A Tough Year Ahead For Berkeley Township
Financial blowback from Superstorm Sandy will impact budget, officials say
2013 is not going to be pretty.
"This upcoming year we have a real mountain to climb," Township Council President James J. Byrnes said at the Jan. 4 reorganization meeting.
"The whole town is going to have to pay," he said. "We have a tough year ahead. In two years, we are going to be back up. We owe it to the people who put us up here to do the best we can."
"Obviously it's going to be a very challenging year in Berkeley," Mayor Carmen F. Amato Jr. said. "We are still picking up the pieces from Superstorm Sandy."
The township has lost between $300 million to $500 million in ratables since Sandy hammered Berkeley and the Jersey Shore on Oct. 29, Amato has said.
"Our budget is going to be deeply impacted," the mayor said. "Taxes are going to go up as a result of loss of ratables."
The ratable plunge will translate into a loss of $9 million to $10 in tax revenue, including schools, county and the township, Amato has said.
The Township Council in December authorized an emergency appropriate of $6 million to deal with the damage to beaches, infrastructure and clean-up from Sandy.
Amato said Friday night that the township will seek permission from the state to spread the cost over a 10-year period instead of five years, to lessen the tax burden each year.
The actual property damage to beaches, bulkheads, buildings, roads and the infrastructure is estimated at roughly $2.5 million.
But when cleanup costs are factored in - including employees, contractors, equipment, tipping fees at the Ocean County Landfill, gas, and police coverage, the number is much higher.
Township officials have said Berkeley should qualify for a 75 percent reimbursement from the Federal Emergency Management Agency. But Amato is hoping for a 90 percent reimbursement eventually for clean-up costs.
In other business, council members again tapped Ward 1 Councilman James J. Byrnes to serve as council president and Councilwoman-at-Large Judy Noonan as council vice-president.
"They did such a great job last year, we decided to give it back to them," Councilwoman Fran Siddons said.