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Mantoloking storm damage ups tax rate, lower bills

Fears of a massive tax hike brought on by Superstorm Sandy might not come to pass in the hardest-hit Jersey shore town (Mantoloking).

Mantoloking introduced a budget Monday that calls for a 14.6 percent increase in the municipal tax rate. But because the storm lowered property values in the devastated town — and an influx of storm recovery aid — most tax bills will actually be lower this year.

“That’s the good news — taxes in 2013 will be lower,” said Councilman Steve Gillingham. “But because these are non-recurring revenues, it may be hard in subsequent years to provide the same level of services.”

The budget calls for $5.6 million in spending, up from just over $4 million last year.

But the average tax bill will actually be 23 percent less than last year because property values have fallen by about a third due to storm damage.

Every one of Mantoloking’s 521 homes was either damaged or destroyed by Sandy.

A big part of the decrease is due to $2.3 million in anticipated aid to help Mantoloking recover from the storm. This includes a community disaster loan from the Federal Emergency Management Agency, Sandy grant reimbursements, and a FEMA beach grant.

Mantoloking is also using $200,000 in surplus funds for this year’s budget.

At least five extra employee jobs that were necessary due to the storm should be paid for by FEMA, officials said.

The borough’s assessed property valuation has fallen by nearly 33 percent due to storm damage. A home that was assessed at $3 million last year paid $5,450 in municipal taxes. That same house this year is assessed at just over $2 million and would pay $4,186 in municipal taxes.

Mantoloking now has just over $1 billion worth of property, down more than $532,000 from last year.

Article by Wayne Parry (Associated Press)

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