Harvey Cedars Taxpayers Association

Keeping Harvey Cedars Taxpayers Informed!

August 2013 Trustee Meeting Minutes

DATE: August 31, 2013

Trustees present:
M. Songer, S. Lewis, B.Lewis, J. Imperiale, J. Loudon, S. Ellman, P. Kunz, K. Ries,
B. Danna, J. Cadmus, B. Lehman.
Absent: none

Once opened to the public, participants are required to state name & address. Please line at microphone placed in aisle.
Phil acknowledged Mayor Oldham’s presence and thanked him for attending.

Introduction of Board of Trustees – P. Kunz
Phil Kunz – President
Kathy Ries – Vice President/Media
Jim Loudon – Treasurer (note that Jim is stepping down as treasurer) New co-Secretary w/ Susan Lewis
Saul Ellman – Membership
John Cadmus – New Treasurer
Barbara Lehman
Bryan Lewis

Reinstated Trustees: John Imperiale and Susan Lewis
New Trustees: Michael Songer and Bob Danna
Recognition-Former Trustee Bob Palestri resigned due to family matters.

REPORTS

Welcome New Members / Dues Renewal Date Adjustment – S. Ellman
The Trustees have decided to try out moving the dues to the Calender year. We will still accept them at the Annual Meeting; people paying at the meeting are paid up thru Dec 2014. Saul will send out a renewal letter in Nov/Dec.

Treasurer’s Report – J. Loudon
HCTA’s donations to Community projects.
– Post Sandy Landscaping Replanting at Sunset Park
Fire Company and Dog Day RaceSponsor

Taxes – J. Loudon -Address the increase in taxes.

Local Municipal Tax up 8.5%
The major items mentioned that at the meeting that increased the tax were an increase in employee health insurance costs, increase in pension contributions, emergency expenses related to Sandy and first principal payment for original beach replenishment. Town feels that 90% of Sandy money will come back from FEMA. Town has no control of pension and health insurance which is dictated by State of NJ. Until this year town has only been making interest payments on the replenishment. Attached is a handout explaining expenses and caps.

County Tax up 5.6%
The county had Sandy related expenses and a loss of ratable which increased the taxes for towns, like HC, which had minimal loss of ratable.

Regional School Tax up 46.9%
The large increase in Harvey Cedar’s regional school tax is due to an archaic formula the NJ Department of Education uses to proportion the taxable valuation (based on ratable) in each participating municipality. They proportion the taxable valuation each community is responsible for based upon the percentage of students in the regional school district vs the elementary school. In HC’s case this year we have 10 students in the elementary district and 15 in the regional district, so 60% of our taxable valuation goes to the regional district. Since the regional school budget, or portion paid by the LBI municipalities, is much higher than the elementary district slight increases in percentage of students in the regional district can dramatically increase the tax HC property owners pay to the regional district. Last year HC had 9 of 22 total students in the regional district about 41% compared to 60% this year. *NOTE The point was made that this is the overall method of distributing the tax burden between LBI and Stafford Twp that is the biggest problem-one that the HCTA will address in the coming year.

Beach Re-Cap – PHIL-Immediately following Sandy HC received 25,000 cubic yards of sand for critical areas. Complete beach rebuilding began in late May placing 1.5 million yards of sand on HC beaches. Today beach entrances and fencing installation continues. Dune grass planting will begin in the coming cooler months.

BLVD Safety – PHIL-On August 7th we had approximately 35 people travel by bus and another 20 or so met us at the Ocean County Freeholders meeting in Toms River. Freeholder Kelly still insists that the 3 lane change will not happen without the approval of Mayors Mancini and Larson. Kelly has suggested that the Borough acquire land along the BLVD in order to install sidewalks. Mancini’s concern is that first responders will not be able to quickly get through HC. He suggests adding more traffic lights and lowering the speed limit. This would not improve the pedestrian travel along the BLVD. We continue to pursue the 3 lane change because of the improved safety and the fact that it does not require acquiring any additional width.

Trustee Mike Songer has been diligently investigating other approaches to move the County forward. Mike provided an overview of the HCTA plans moving forward.

Update on what the HCTA has accomplished this past year- S. Lewis

1. Initiated and compiled Superstorm Sandy Daily Updates first month after the storm.

2. Organized “Community Cleanup Days/Workday Wednesday” to assist Borough after the storm. We had over 200 community members pitch in to assist cleaning up our town: whether walking behind the garbage truck to pick up/load debris, bringing their own trucks and families to work, sorting trash, collecting and turning in family photos that were found during pickup…

3. Started and monitored ‘Community Lost and Found’ Items page- related to Sandy on our website.

4. Sponsored/ Organized HTCA initiated Town-Wide Annual Yard Sale on Memorial Day Weekend.

5. Landscape Restoration at Sunset Park: Contracted/ helped design/ funded landscape restoration after Sandy. Jim Loudon: point person on this.

6. 3in HC: Spearheaded continued BLVD Safety push- Organized Bus to Freeholder Mtg/ Sandpaper Ads/interfaced with Borough/Legal exploration. Trustees Kunz, Songer, Imperiale, Lewis, Ellman, Loudon and Reis leads on this.

7. Advocate/Attend Meetings on HC Budget and continue to push for lower County and School Taxes.

8. Dog Day Race Sponsor, Promote Town Events/Activities (High Point fundraising Dinners/ Art Shows)

9. Represents Harvey Cedars at the JCT- Trustee Lehman is President of this organization. The HCTA feels we need to field another Representative for this group to represent HC due to the demands of Trustee Lehman’s role.

JCT Update/Schools – B. Lehman. $7.6 Million offered for Ship Bottom school property that also qualified for a $2M FEMA grant. LBIBOE voted this down.

Barbara encouraged HC homeowners to split their voter registration and help defeat practices, which are not in the best interest of the LBI taxpayers. She also encouraged people to write letters to the President of the LBIBOE and the Sandpaper. Links to addresses are found on the HCTA website at Harveycedarstax.org.

Annual Town-wide Yard Sale – K. Ries. The HCTA thought hard about conducting the HCTA Annual Yard Sale this year because of the storm. “ We decide to proceed in an attempt to promote ‘ Business as Usual’ in HC. Although the HCTA had half the average participants in this year’s yard sale, 1/3 of those participants were first time sellers and we truly feel our numbers will increase next year. In addition, the Trustees voted to make Annual Yard Sale Participation a benefit of membership. Participants must still register to be on the ‘ Treasure Map’, but no fee will be assessed if the seller is an HCTA member.

NEW BUSINESS

Ideas/discussion from the floor:
M. Quigley- Can the HCTS or Boro provide back racks at the beach entrances? 68th St in particular. Great Idea- we will look into this with the Boro, but there may be an issue regarding the location of the bike rack on 68th St since there is a house at the end of the street and the bike rack my be on private property which will not fly.

C. Stoner- dropping speed limit on BLVD is not such a bad idea to slow traffic through Boro and get people thinking.

Ed ?- Can we add more pedestrian crossing sings? Good idea. We will ask the Boro to request them from the Co.

J. Reddington- Will 2 lanes down to one lane cause backups? No because of the center turn lane and a graduated merge. Computer model added to highest traffic count with no big traffic jam.

B. Greber- HCBP needs more defibrillators-how about the HCTA contributing? Besides the lane configuration, how about spending some money on road-shoulder stencils, e.g., “Walk Against Traffic” “Bike With Traffic”? County will provide stencils if Public Works will do job. Mayor Oldham will look into, however, the County doesn’t want to “Identify the road shoulders as shoulders” said Mayor Oldham.

B. Kaplon- what about staggering life guard working hours: 10 to 5, and 11:30-6:30. There are not as many people on the beach at 10am as there are at 6:30pm.

L. Lagrano- An extra 29 seconds to get thru town is not terrible when we’re talking about safety. From May 15 to Oct 15 is when it is busiest on LBI, otherwise it is not an issue. Let’s educate the first responders.

E. Oxfeld- Stop the ice cream truck noise pollution! How about bells only and stop the recorded music- Can the Boro do something about this?

?- Can we start an Adopt-a-dune program to help plant dune grass and remove trash?

The Army Corp will be around to plant due grass when the weather cools. HCTA will look into this.

P. Max (?)- People need to register to vote here. HC pays a lot of taxes to Southern Regional. How much is it per student and how many students do we have enrolled? You can register to vote in Ocean Co if you live in NJ and own in HC. The HCTA has a link to voter registration and information on our website at Harveycedarstax.org. We pay over 200k per student per year to attend Southern Regional. We send 10 students to the elementary school and 15 students to the high school. NOTE: Being able to vote here may not help this issue, the only way to secede from the regional district is thru referendum. But, each municipality in the region must vote for withdrawal of any particular town and Stafford would never agree to any town on LBI leaving the regional district.

D. Meyers- the Pine trees are not natural to the island. Cut them down.

R.Moss- Post signs that direct pedestrians and bikers to walk according to laws, e.g., against traffic and bikers to ride with traffic.. Can we do T-shirts that people can wear show how you are to walk/bike on the BLVD? the HCTA is on it. We’ve registered as a (what is it Phil?) and will be applying for grant funding.

S. Koslowski- speaking of FEMA money- when HC gets it back, will we all get a tax break?

MEETING CLOSE

Formally Close Meeting – Phil Kunz (motion)
Kathy Ries- (second)
All – (yea)

Introduce Mayor for remarks and Moderated Q & A session- Phil Kunz

Jon Oldham Remarks: The Boro employees, neighbors and the HCTA all worked very well together to clean up after Sandy.

FEMA – money HC spent that should come back to HC- $500k on clean up. $300K was for dozers to move sand off the roads and put back at the beach. We expect to get 90% of it back and when we do it will go into the surplus fund so we do not have to raise future taxes. We continually did assessments: Did we have enough sand to protect homes and not be wasteful with our resources.

Adopt a dune is a good idea. We have to be careful that we are not on people’s property.

Harvey Cedars payments for easements- 100% reimbursement for a total 2 million cost, but we still have 500k sitting out there not paid back to us yet and we might have to pay the interest on that. Out of 11 cases, 9 have settled- 220k being the highest payment- these settlements were approved by the Army Corp and the State of NJ. A comment from the floor suggested that the Boro/Oldham should put the information on the current status of easement payments out to the public as it is very confusing where this stands.

BLVD Safety- Why aren’t the HC police warning or ticketing biker and pedestrian violators? The HCPD prefers to use positive reinforcement, especially with kids – e.g., riding with helmets, riding on the correct side of the street, etc. WE can only lower the speed limit a % of what it is now.

BL businesses truly believe people will not go up there and shop with the lane change. We all need to re-educate them. Tell them you are from Harvey Cedars and will continue to shop there is the land change goes thru.

False fire alarms- Boro considering billing other towns for this. We would be remiss if we did not consider it as we are all volunteer. But we would have some leeway as well, so we will look at it.

Harvey Cedars tax increase was significant. We send so few students. 20% of ratable money goes to the budget and that’s why our share of taxes went up. (It’s estimated LBI sends approx. 10% of the total number of students to the high school (258/2554) and we pay approx 79% of the total tax. HC cost / pupil = $211.8k.
We are talking to Attorney Vito Gagliardi- He did the North Haledon and Cape May cases- to fight the taxation formula. We are watching the Cape May case and this is a conversation at the Mayor level with other towns on the island. NOTE: FYI, looks like RiverDell school district is closest to a settlement. Also, handled by Gagliardi. An Admin Law Judge ruled in favor of Oradell. Recommended changing method of proportioning tax payment to 80% based on enrollment and 20% based on ratables phased in over 2 yrs. Final hurdle – decision by State Commissioner of Ed for or against. No timetable.

L. Bogart: Thanks to the HCTA for the awesome updates during the storm and to the town and employees and first responders for all their efforts.

Comments

Tell us what you're thinking...