EGG HARBOR CITY — First, city property owners faced a 6-cent increase in their property-tax rate. Then, they faced a 2½-cent increase.
Now, they face no increase.
City Council passed a budget with no tax increase at its June 25 virtual meeting. The change was due to the sale of a city-owned property on Boston Avenue for $85,000. Of that amount, $65,000 was used to balance the budget. The sale was announced at a special budget meeting June 17.
Clifford Mays Jr. was the lone councilman to vote against the budget.
Resident Aimee Cramer raised concerns about the budget process during the public comment section of the meeting.
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“There was a special meeting scheduled for June 23, but it was moved to June 17,” she said. “Why did that happen?”
“I believe that Councilman Ricci said he was unavailable on June 23,” City Clerk Meg Steeb said.
Cramer then listed three council members who did not attend the June 17 meeting. “Most importantly, the auditor was not there,” Cramer said.
“We still had a quorum though,” Councilman Scott Trythall said.
“I would think that the auditor’s attendance is more important though than having one council member there to announce the Hail Mary pass that you are all grabbing,” Cramer said, referring to the Boston Avenue property sale.
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“The auditor has been in constant contact with the mayor and council to make sure the budget is appropriate,” City Solicitor Angela Costigan said.
“It didn’t make sense to reschedule one meeting for one councilman who couldn’t attend when three members and the auditor missed the rescheduled one,” Cramer said. “The entire situation stinks so much. You decided to let Joe (Ricci) make this announcement that we are going to have a flat budget. It doesn’t matter who else can be there as long as Joe can because he is the one running for mayor.”
Ricci, a Republican, is running for mayor against incumbent Democrat Lisa Jiampetti.
Cramer then detailed why council’s action could lead to increased taxes next year.
“There will be less revenue from the court and lake revenue and no dividends from the joint insurance fund,” she said.
“I’m glad it wasn’t me making this decision because I wouldn’t be able to sleep at night.”
“We tried to pass a budget with no increase to offset the suffering our residents are currently going through,” Trythall said.
“I hope it works out, but there is no way in hell I agree with it,” Cramer said.