Barnegat Light Budget Increase Kept to a Penny

Plovers Stake Their Claim on a Few Beaches

Barnegat Light — The $3.4 million municipal budget for 2019 in Barnegat Light contains a one-penny increase. That’s an $81.71 increase on the average house in Barnegat Light, average assessment being $788,901. The spending plan with its tax rate of 22.6 cents per $100 of assessed valuation was passed at the May 8 monthly borough council meeting.

Trimming certain line items from last year kept the increase lower than it could have been, council members said at the meeting.

“They had to take out almost $88,000 to keep it within a penny. That’s a lot of cutting, but we couldn’t go much lower than that,” said Councilman Michael Spark, who chairs the council’s finance committee.

“Water and sewer rates will stay the same … we didn’t see a need to raise them,” Spark said.

Assistant Treasurer Ashley Darmon, who assists Borough Chief Financial Officer Kathleen Flanagan, when asked this week where the cuts were made, said they were across the board.

“We looked back on line items from previous years, what we haven’t spent, and cut those – things that were budgeted that we haven’t been using.”

There were no comments from the public during the second reading and public hearing.

Among other discussions, a public safety committee report from Councilman Frank Mikuletzky informed about a new string of so-called robocalls. The caller leaves a message that the person’s Social Security number has been discontinued. Mikuletzky got the call himself on two different phone numbers.

“If you call back, they’ll probably ask you to give them your Social Security number,” he said. “The best thing to do about these things is to not answer them. Or if they leave a message, forget about it.”

If the caller were really the IRS or an official agency, they would send something in writing, he said.

Beach Information About Badges and Birds

Councilwoman Dottie Reynolds said beach badge sales are “almost identical with last year’s.”

She reminded people to buy their badges by the end of the day June 5 in order to get the $30 pre-season rate. After that, the price for a seasonal badge goes up to $40. Badges can be purchased at Borough Hall on East Seventh Street during the “off-season” Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. Lifeguarding starts June 15.

Reynolds also reported that piping plovers are back on several of the borough’s beaches, including near 17th, 21st, and 22nd streets, and on the far north end. One from last year, familiarly named “Larry,” has moved to Loveladies.

The birds’ presence affects the public because people are required to stay away from nesting sites that are marked by temporary fencing. The nesting birds are protected by fencing around their nests in the sand, installed not by the borough, but through state-federal protection programs.

“Please remember to respect (don’t enter) the areas fenced and posted for nesting birds,” said Todd Pover, senior wildlife biologist with the Conserve Wildlife Foundation of New Jersey. “And leave your dog at home; dogs are not allowed on either the borough or state park beaches at this time of year.”

Atlantic coast piping plovers are on the state endangered species list and are listed as threatened on the federal list.

Three pairs of piping plovers nested in Barnegat Light in 2018 (down from five in 2017) and produced five fledglings. Ninety-six pairs nested in New Jersey in 2018, a 9 percent decrease compared to 2017 (105 pairs) and the second consecutive year for a decline in the statewide pair number (115 in 2016). The 2018 population is well below the long-term average (117 pairs) and is the third lowest pair number recorded since federal listing in 1986. The statistics are from Conserve Wildlife Foundation of New Jersey and the New Jersey Division of Fish and Wildlife Endangered and Nongame Species Program.

More information on the newest nests was provided this week by Pover.

“There is a piping plover pair with a nest at the inlet area where the habitat restoration occurred this winter,” he said. “It is the same male that nested at this site last year; we know that from the bands placed on its legs to identify it.

“Piping plovers exhibit strong site fidelity (attachment to a site), so we’d expect this bird to return to the same area if it survived the winter, which it did,” Pover added.

“Obviously, we want birds to return to the site, but we are also hoping to attract new birds and additional pairs with the restoration to help further recovery of the species in New Jersey. So far that hasn’t happened, although it is still early enough in the season that other pairs could nest there. One ‘bachelor’ (single) bird has periodically been seen at the inlet.

“Elsewhere in Barnegat Light there is a nesting pair further down the beach near 17th Street. And a pair that was at the very southern end of the borough moved across the border to Loveladies. Essentially, at this point in the season that is the same number of pairs in the area as last year and mostly the same birds, based on bands.”

— Maria Scandale

Reposted from The Sandpaper