Berkeley Doesn’t Plan On Tax Increase In 2019

Berkeley police promoted two of their patrolmen to the rank of sergeant. (Photo by Patricia A. Miller)

BERKELEY – Unless there are any catastrophic expenses, the township’s municipal tax rate will not rise in 2019, Mayor Carmen F. Amato Jr. said at the latest Township Council meeting.

Amato made the remarks during an overview of Berkeley’s finances in both 2018 and 2019 at the Dec. 17 Township Committee meeting, the last meeting of the year.

“Barring any natural disasters…we are planning on not increasing municipal taxes in 2019,” Amato said.

2018 was a “good year overall” for Berkeley, he said

Standard and Poor’s has upgraded the township’s bond rating to AA minus. This financial services company rates municipalities based on how fiscally sound they are. A good bond rating means low interest rates when borrowing money.

The township’s ratable base is $5.11 billion, which is close to what it was six years ago, before Superstorm Sandy devastated the waterfront sections of Berkeley, Amato said.

The township has the second lowest tax rate in Ocean County. Only Manchester Township is lower, he said.

For the first time in years, the Cedar Creek Golf Course is now in the black, Amato said. Earlier this year, the township decided to retain ownership of the course, but to privatize the operations.

The Township Council voted in May of 2017 to privatize Cedar Creek and give Farmingdale-based Atlantic Golf a five-year lease with a five-year option to operate the course off Forest Hills Parkway. The move came after a continual decline in revenues.

The township spent almost $5 million on Cedar Creek over the past decade, and could not raise enough revenue to keep it going, Amato has said.

Atlantic Golf paid the township $125,000 for the first year’s base rent. The rent will escalate for the first five years of the contract. Atlantic must also pay the township 15 percent of its gross income over $600,000, he has said.

In other business, the township promoted two police officers from the rank of patrolman to sergeant, before a crowd of their fellow officers. Berkeley has had a number of officers retire, Amato said.

Officers Timothy R. Pizzella and Robert H. Flanagan took the oath of office in front of their families.

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Patricia A. Miller began her career in 1984 as a reporter at the Asbury Park Press. She covered a variety of towns in Ocean County and wrote an award-winning column, "Ocean Diary," each week. She later spent seven years at Greater Media Newspapers and served as managing editor of the Edison/Metuchen Sentinel, the Woodbridge Sentinel and the Brick Township Bulletin during that time. Pat spent the last 8 years as a local Patch editor. Pat has won a number of awards during her time as a journalist, including the New Jersey Press Association, the New Jersey Society of Professional Journalists and the North Jersey Press Club.