As a courtesy to our SHPOA Members, we’re bringing you a summary of each Stone Harbor Work Session and Council Meeting on January 18, 2022. Intended as summaries, these intentionally don’t have a lot of details and are not a substitute for the official Borough minutes.

Work Session

Budget review
CFO Jim Craft presented items related to the development of the 2022 budget.

Revenues
Some of the revenue categories that declined in 2020 due to COVID, rebounded in 2021. They include beach fees, parking meters, tennis courts, and fees & permits. Thus, the Borough has increased the expected revenue for these items in 2022.

The beach tag revenue includes an increase of $300,000 due to the fee increase for the tags. The CFO confirmed that Avalon did not match Stone Harbor’s increase and that reciprocity is already approved for 2022. The anticipated increase in revenue is based on the prior year’s sales after a rate increase.

The Borough will receive more American Rescue Plan Act funding in 2022 ($42,390.76 was received in 2021) which will offset revenues impacted by COVID and reimburse the Borough’s surplus fund.

The interest rate for the checking, savings, and money market accounts declined in early 2021, so there will be a slight decline in expected revenue.

Beach concession revenue increased in 2021 compared to the budget.

The CFO is still reviewing Uniform Fire Code Official revenues.

Capital projects and purchases
Total capital projects are $3.3 million, of which $763,000 was funded in prior years. Projects funded in 2022 are expected to cost $1.5 million; these include $300,000 each for reserves allocated for bay dredging and beach replenishment. Other capital projects include the 97th Street Playground Replacement and Beach ADA Ramps and Pavilion Replacement. The remainder of the $3.3 million will be funded with a bond. The average annual increase in debt service for the life of the bond will be $88,200 and the impact on the tax rate is 0.02 cents based on current budget projections.

So far, no need for a tax rate increase for capital projects: The CFO concluded that there is no reason to increase the tax rate.

Public Safety
Fire Department report – In December 2021, there were 22 fire calls and 25 EMS calls. The yearend totals for 2021 are 481 fire calls, an increase of 123 from the prior year and 696 EMS calls, an increase of 150 from the prior year.
Police Department report – The November 2021 statistics include 44 motor vehicle stops, 1 accident, 10 open windows, 3 open incidents, and no arrests. For staffing, one officer is currently in the police academy and the department is taking applications. Chief Thomas Schutta also presented a proposed ordinance change to increase staffing to meet increased demands on the department and officers. Asked of the cost, the chief said he did not know. The ordinance would increase the department from 17 full-time officers to 18 full-time officers and promote an officer to sergeant. The chief’s presentation included statistics on the increase in incidents, special events, patrols, and police reform rules that have stretched the department’s existing resources. (The ordinance was not up for a vote at this meeting.)
Beach patrol report– Beach Patrol Captain Sandy Bosaco reports that the applications for 2022 lifeguards are online and the department will send the information to guards from previous years. Vendors say it will take longer to fill orders so they should order in spring. The headquarters construction is proceeding.
Recreation and Tourism
Recreation Director Tina Prickett – The Borough will continue free adult classes, will relaunch “crafternoons” in the spring, and will host a Valentine’s Day youth cooking class. The bid requests for summer programming will be released in February.
Tourism Director Jenny Olson – The department is updating the special event application, including changing the fee structure to charge less in the off-season and more in summer to encourage organizers to host events outside of the busy summer season.
Natural Resources
Beach Replenishment – Dr. Stewart Farrell, director of the Coastal Research Center at Stockton University, discussed the history of federal support for moving sand from Hereford Inlet to the Stone Harbor beaches, including the Coastal Barrier Resources Act and funding. The National Audubon Society has filed to prevent Stone Harbor from using the sand in the interest of protecting the bird habitat at South Point. Dr. Farrell noted that beach replenishment is required to keep the sandy area at South Point above water. Senator Cory Booker is working with the Department of Interior to get the appropriate permissions needed and sent a note last week that conversations are ongoing.
The committee will recommend that the Borough hires Doug Gaffney, of Mott MacDonald, as a consultant for this project.
[For press coverage on this topic in the Cape May County Herald, please click on Stone Harbor Seeks Place in ’22 Federal Beach Replenishment]

Other items: Approval for the Professional Services Agreement for Triad Advisory Services for property purchased by the borough was tabled.

Council Meeting

The Reeds dock encroachment: The property owner has received approval from the zoning board to replace an eight-slip marina that was destroyed during Hurricane Sandy. They sought Council approval because the plan extends about six feet beyond the property line into the Shelter Haven Basin (the original design did as well). The marina will be for transient boaters (not seasonal). Council approved the project and will decide if a lease or license agreement is needed.

Dock Hearing for Channel Marine (10553 Third Ave.): Owners are seeking to convert their dock to a U-shaped dock system that will extend slightly further from land. Council approved the plan unanimously.

Public comment: SHPOA Sustainability Committee Chair Geoff Woolery requested that the Borough work with the organization to host a public meeting about the two pending South Jersey offshore wind projects. He noted that the public comment period for Ocean Wind 1 is expected in May 2022 and Ocean 1 could impact Ocean Wind 2, which would be off Seven Mile Island. Council supported the idea to provide input on the consideration raised regarding the proposed meeting logistics.
[For press coverage on this topic in the Cape May County Herald, please click on SHPOA Calls for Ocean Wind Information Session]

Other business: Council approved the salary ranges for borough staff, the appointment of an SLEO officer for February to September 2022, and reimbursements for two construction-related companies for unused permits.

It also appointed liaisons to local organizations. Council President Reese Moore will work with SHPOA. Council Member Jen Gensemer will work with the Chamber of Commerce and Council Member Robin Casper will work with the Stone Harbor Museum.

For documents referenced in this meeting, please click: https://stoneharbornj.org/wp-content/uploads/2022/01/January-18-2022-Work-Session.pdf

To review a recording of the meeting, please click:
or https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GRwu8P1pajQ