We’re close enough to the Big Party that we’ll mention the borough’s 100 th birthday twice in this message, along with a March and April wrap-up including important budget, planning, and spring cleaning news.
First, Little Silver officially turned 100 on March 19, with a celebratory toast, visits by county and state officials, and a packed open house at the Parker Homestead, portions of which pre-date the birth of Little Silver by almost 300 years.
Back in 1923, we were in the midst of prohibition, Calvin Coolidge was sworn in as president, Edward Edwards governed the state, and the Little Silver Borough Council met for the first time. The topics of concern: whether to have a police chief (no, for the time being); how much to put aside in the budget for groceries for the poor ($21.00 per month); and how much to pay the clerk ($300 a year).
We’ve come a long way, baby, but our sense of community is stronger than ever. Here’s to another 100 years, and a great party on June 24.
Looking back, March saw the return of the Fire Department’s St. Patrick’s Day party (a huge success), our annual Easter Egg Hunt (4,000 eggs, 1,000 more than last year!), and the great Environmental Day, giving us a chance to clean out our attics and learn a bit about caring for our planet. Thanks to the LSFD and all our volunteer services, the Environmental Commission, and the police department’s PBA and Recreation Committee for putting those community events together.
Around town, our public works department has been filling potholes, trimming hedges, removing dead trees and branches, and generally sprucing up after a long winter. Give Superintendent Jimmy Gannon’s hard-working team a shout out when you see them.
And if you’d like to help them out? Please, please pick up after your dog, especially on public property. Our public works folks, not to mention our kids and others, shouldn’t have to dance around your pup’s piles. Thanks in advance.
In borough business, it’s been a very difficult year financially, with multiple annual expenditures skyrocketing: liability insurance is up, health benefits have increased 28 percent, pension contributions are up six percent largely as a result of state inefficiencies; the cost of trash and recycling pickup has increased 87 percent, utilities have gone up 15 percent, and supply chain and tree removal costs have driven an 11 percent increase in public works costs.
Nevertheless, the Borough Council has introduced a budget that holds overall spending inside the spending CAP relatively flat, with a total spending increase of approximately $79,000, most of which was due to mandatory expenses. The increase in this area would have been far greater if the State had not provided CAP relief to local governments to deal with the unprecedented increases in garbage and recycling, health benefits, pensions, and fuel costs. The increase to the budget for these outside-the-cap items amounts to about $415,000. The budget also addresses ongoing capital needs for the borough.
The municipal purposes levy increase is 4.98%, or $404,997.87, and is in compliance with the two-percent tax levy cap. Despite having to deal with more than $759,000 in cost increases in areas the Borough has very little control over, we were able to leverage prior budgetary cost savings, efficiencies, and attrition to offset almost half the increase to reduce the impact to our residents as much as possible.
So, with the overall projected increase in property valuation, the municipal local purposes tax rate will again decrease this year from 0.422 in 2022 to approximately 0.405 in 2023, meaning that the average property valued at $790,000 will see a tax decrease of $134.30, assuming the value remained unchanged. If its value increases at the average rate the Borough is projected to increase for 2023, the owner of an average-priced property valued at $790,000 in Little Silver would pay about $164 more this year in municipal local purposes taxes.
Please remember that your municipal local purposes tax rate is just about 22.4% of your yearly tax bill, and the municipal open space tax rate is just over 0.5% for a municipal total of about 23%. The Little Silver Board of Education, Red Bank Regional Board of Education, and Monmouth County account for the remainder of your tax bill. As of this date, none of these taxing entities have passed their budgets, so the overall tax rate is not yet known.
A public hearing on the municipal budget only is scheduled for April 24, 2023. Thanks to our CFO, Craig Marshall, administrator Kevin Burke, and the Borough Council’s outstanding budget committee for helping us navigate these difficult fiscal times.
In the world of planning, a Dunkin Donuts – without a drive-through - has been proposed for the now-closed Santander bank adjacent to the Dance Plus business location and the large train station parking lot, across Sycamore Avenue from Builders’ General.
The current brick building would remain, and parking would be in the same location behind the building. Full plans are available in the planning office in Borough Hall, and a public hearing on the proposal is scheduled for April 13, 2023 at 7 pm.
We also understand that the holder of the liquor license plans to file a different, scaled-back proposal for a restaurant with a bar at the former shoe store adjacent to the large train station parking lot on Oceanport Avenue.
A much larger proposal was withdrawn several years ago when the applicant was unable to come to an agreement with NJ Transit on the use of the train station parking lot. This time, according to principal Matt Kelly, the proposal is not likely to need such an agreement, because it would fit within the current small building on the property and accommodate about sixty seats.
The emphasis would be on dining, as opposed to the bar. No outdoor dining or music would be proposed.
No formal application has been filed; when that occurs, a public hearing will be held before the Planning and Zoning Board.
Next, at the risk of being redundant, here is a repeat of last April’s newsletter, which remains relevant: please lock your cars. Please – even if you’re just running into a store for a couple minutes. The entire area continues to put out that message.
The reason is twofold: 1) to prevent the theft of your vehicle; and 2) to avoid a reputation as a town where cars are easily stolen, thus becoming a target.
Our police chief, Paul Halpin, reports that attempted thefts have decreased lately, so perhaps the message is out. However, car theft remains in the news as a serious problem around the state. The thieves are smart and tech-savvy, and can tell if a fob is left in a car, making theft a simple, quick matter. Please lock up.
Lastly, a couple springtime reminders.
First, the Parker Homestead has reopened after renovation of the second floor of this historic property, and will host regular tours, hold events for students from grade school to grad school, and resume its lecture series by distinguished professors and historians.
Check this newsletter and the Homestead’s facebook page and website for times and details.
And please visit our wifi-equipped local Library, which has become a community gathering place, study location for students, the host of educational, artistic and informative presentations, and so much more. Say hi to Anita and her team, get a library card, and find out what you’ve been missing. The patio’s awful nice on a sunny spring day.
And I said I’d mention it twice, so I will: please calendar June 24 and come join us on the fields behind Borough Hall to celebrate the 100 th birthday party of our special little town.
On behalf of the Governing Body, we hope you enjoy the spring; walk our trails, stop by our parks, visit the shore, and enjoy all our area has to offer. If you have questions or comments, please call borough hall at (732) 842-2400, or contact me at home at (732) 576-8595, or by email at email@example.com .