At last night’s city council meeting, I tabled the administration’s draft municipal budget for 2022. The draft budget does not include any increase in the municipal tax rate. Including this budget, we have come to zero for three of the last four years.
I want to thank my senior executives and the entire City team for working on behalf of all taxpayers to deliver this responsible budget, while maintaining all of the services that Ocean City residents have come to expect and continuing our aggressive capital improvement program.
The Mayor’s proposed budget is available online for everyone to see at www.ocnj.us/finance and my city state address is included below. This is the first step in the budget process. Finance Director Frank Donato will give a presentation on budgeted revenues and appropriations at the March 24 city council meeting. At subsequent meetings, the city council will formally “present” the budget, then work through potential revisions until a final public hearing and vote.
Hope you all have a great weekend and a happy St. Patrick’s Day Thursday, and please come out and support our local traders at the Market Madness Day Sale from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday at Ocean City Music Pier. The event will take place rain or shine, and there is plenty of free parking on the boardwalk grounds near the pier.
Mayor Jay A. Gillian
City State Address
Mayor Jay A. Gillian
March 10, 2022
I am here to report tonight that the state of the city is stronger than it has ever been.
We continue to make improvements to every part of the city. We add new services and preserve the traditions we love. We have an experienced and dedicated municipal team that makes it all possible. Ocean City remains a great place to live, work and play. Investments in Ocean City are stronger than ever.
In a moment, CFO Frank Donato will distribute a draft budget that does not include any increase in our tax rate. Zero.
Each year, I challenge the city team to do more with less as we continue to undertake more projects to improve our infrastructure and our way of life. I would like to thank them for their commitment to all taxpayers.
With everything going on in the world, I think it’s important to get to zero this year. We must always consider how inflation and other global issues might affect Ocean City. But I would like to put that aside for a moment and send our thoughts and prayers to the people of Ukraine. They deserve all our support.
Ocean City continues to benefit from a growing tax base – we saw $174 million in new rates this year. After record years for beach beacons and parking revenue, our fund balance is at another record high of $10.4 million. These are some of the factors that help us maintain our capital improvements without increasing the tax rate.
Built-in increases to health care benefits, wages and pensions represent a $2.5 million challenge to overcome. Even after adding five officers in 2021, our number of full-time staff has shrunk by three to 269. All departments have made significant cuts to their budgets.
I’m proud that we were able to accomplish so much this year, and we have plans in place to keep the momentum going in 2022.
Here’s a quick look at some of the things we’ve done.
We continued to execute our comprehensive flood mitigation plans.
- Plans are complete for a proposed West 17th Street pumping station and work will begin this spring.
- We have awarded a contract to design further flood mitigation improvements for Merion Park.
- We tackled flooding on the beach block at Fifth Street.
- We have rebuilt partitions in several places.
- We secured a $3 million grant for the elevation of 52 units in the Ocean Aire condominiums on West Avenue at 43rd Street.
- We have advanced a flood mitigation project along Waterway Road.
At the same time, we have paved many kilometers of roads and alleys in each district.
The city was able to acquire an entire city block to convert from a car dealership into open space.
Our maintenance dredging program continues along the entire length of our bay.
We replaced Boardwalk decking from 18th Street to 20th Street.
We have completed a major renovation of the Civic Center.
The toilets of the town hall have been enlarged, renovated and made accessible to people with disabilities.
The Music Pier HVAC system has been replaced.
The pickleball courts have been redone and the fences extended. A championship ground is named after Don Hepner.
The final restoration of the Lifeboat Station has been completed.
Fencing and other improvements are underway on the Little League grounds at 35th Street.
Ocean City Municipal Airport Improvements took advantage of more than $1 million in grants to install artificial turf areas for safety, wildlife, and erosion control.
We have brought back our popular raptor program for the reduction of gulls on the boardwalk
Summer flag-raising ceremony moved to Ocean City Music Pier with new flagpole dedicated to veterans Joe Caserta, Bill Cruice and JR Robinson
We sponsored a free outdoor patriotic concert by the Ocean City Pops for the 4th of July.
We worked with the school district to provide a venue for the high school prom and homecoming dance and a middle school dance.
We have provided surf chairs and expanded beach mats to improve accessibility to our beaches.
At a time when COVID vaccination appointments were very difficult to obtain, a city team was able to arrange them for more than 400 seniors in Ocean City.
Our Community Services team hosted virtual events like our annual Martin Luther King Ceremony ahead of the safe return of live events like 4th of July, Night in Venice, Fall Block Party and even a new Dog Day on the Boardwalk .
Our police department worked with local parents to organize a bike rally to build positive relationships with young residents and encourage safe cycling.
Our tax office now accepts credit cards for payment of taxes.
Renovations to the community center courtyard provide outdoor reading space for children and exercise space for adults.
We updated our capital plan at the end of last summer and we know our priorities for 2022. We will present a 2023-2027 capital plan before the end of the year. It will remain on this cycle – with capital plans defined prior to the preparation of the municipal budget each year.
State guidelines will allow us to use the remaining COVID relief money (approximately $4.9 million) beginning in 2021 for flood mitigation and cybersecurity projects.
In addition to West 17th Street and Merion Park, we will be able to use $3.7 million to begin work along sections of the Haven Avenue corridor between 9th Street and 28th Street.
The remaining $1.2 million is on tonight’s agenda to fund cybersecurity and upgrade computer networks. Like the rest of the world, Ocean City has become dependent on technology to run its day-to-day business. Unfortunately, attacks on public and private computer networks are not uncommon these days, and they can be devastating. The state is encouraging cities to use this relief money to protect against cyberattacks.
We are actively seeking grants and funding for the infrastructure bill, from road projects to electric vehicle charging stations. In fact, just this week, we spoke with a Special Assistant to the President at the White House regarding potential funds for several capital projects the city has underway.
Tonight’s agenda includes a resolution to approve a Community Energy Plan grant application for electric vehicle charging stations. Other initiatives for the coming year include an expansion of grant-funded social service programs, including a rental and mortgage assistance program, a pantry for food and essentials, and new counseling and mental health services. Our budget includes funds to complete a pilot program for a summer jitney service.
As always, everything we do is with the taxpayer in mind. Including this budget, we have come to zero for three of the last four years.
Thank you all. We are fully prepared for another productive year for America’s largest family resort. We will ensure that our city is clean, safe and family friendly.
We share a common mission to ensure that future generations can enjoy the city we all know and love.