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Mayor Says Stafford Will Have a 'Rough' 2013 After Sandy

Tax appeals, infrastructure repairs and decrease in municipal utilities usage revenue will have to be overcome.

Calling it a case of “the good, the bad and the ugly,” Stafford Mayor John Spodofora said 2013 will be a rough one for the township at last Thursday’s meeting.

“The good was the people,” he said. "We were very blessed with employees, who worked tirelessly and then came back to volunteer more of their time; neighbors helping neighbors clean up and gut their homes or work in the shelters and relief center and volunteers that came from all over the country to help after Sandy."

The bad, he said, "were the few people who - no matter what we did - felt it was not enough, but they were few and far between."

But it was the ugly - the damage caused by the storm - that is going to make 2013 a “rough year,” said Spodofora.

The current tax base is certain to drop with an estimated 4500 homes and business having their current assessments adjusted due to the damage they suffered, said Spodofora.

The township is making blanket reassessments in some areas, but individual property owners are encouraged to file appeals with the tax assessor’s office, he said.

Forms and instructions are available at the assessor’s office, but the deadline to file an appeal is Jan. 10, said Business Administrator James Moran.

A reduction in revenue is not an option at this point as the township suffered severe infrastructure damage to roads, bayfront areas, the Beach Haven West Community Center and the water and sewer system among other areas, said the mayor.

That tax revenue will probably need to be made up with rate increases on the rest of the taxpayers, the mayor said after the meeting. “Until the township can bounce back, and I am sure it will, there needs to be some type of increase to keep us going,” he said.

In addition, the township could still be responsible for nearly $7M of clean up costs, he added. County officials and Gov. Christie’s office are appealing to FEMA to cover the entire clean-up, but at this point they are only committed to 75% of the cost.

The FEMA-subsidized clean up will ending shortly, said Moran. “All debris needs to be out to the curb by Jan. 3 for the last pass of the clean up,” he said. After that, property owners will be responsible for the cost of removal.

Water and sewer rates are also likely to rise as the user base is decreasing with damaged properties disconnecting from the system by “cutting and capping” their lines at the meter, said Spodofora.

At the same time, the township’s utility has to replace the pumping stations on Cedar Bonnet Island and Mallard Island/Mud City that were destroyed by Sandy. Currently, crews are using pump out trucks to provide septic services for those residents, added Moran.  

“We have bonded $885,000 for the project and will need to wait for FEMA to reimburse us 75% of the cost,” said Moran, who also heads the municipal water and sewer authority.

Spodofora said he is certain that Stafford will come back stronger and better going forward. "Beach Haven West and other areas will be rebuilt and our infrastucture will be restored," he said.

Sal Sorce January 03, 2013 at 12:34 AM
What's up john colli ... did I hit a nerve??? Are you a member of the several unions it the town??? You suggestion is defined in most union mined members. I successfully battled the AFL-CIO for two years and won .... ultimately after leaving the huge Fortune 500 company they settled their affairs by closing down a very successful division with over 8,000 products (ultimately sold to a European company ... put many folks out of work ... Having a successful career since 1956, I worked hard in the private sector ... never had to rely on the handouts. Having made the decision to have my permanent home Stafford, battled with the town and Kara Homes for about 2-years. Decided to get deeply involved with township matters that have heavily impacted "most residents" or at least those who do not have a lush county or public sector job ... when are folks going to wake up and get into what's costing taxes to rise every year ... if you calculate what my home in Stafford has cost me the taxes come to over $100,000 for the ten years ... taxes are always headed up with the excuses and questionable management of this township ... does anyone question the tax abatement provided Walters Group of entities???? Or do you believe in the "payment in lieu of taxes" reasoning ... time for a few OPRA requests ...
Sal Sorce January 03, 2013 at 12:35 AM
Where's the 2013 Township Calendar???
Sal Sorce January 03, 2013 at 05:15 PM
Should our new government body decide to hang all the blame on the Super Storm Sandy, they will be able to fool the average citizen. 2013 should be a year of putting this new team on record. A- All formal council meetings - agendas should be available 1- full week prior to the actual evening-date-time. 2- all Council meetings should be formal business meetings, all butt kissing session should be on a separate day-time. 3- each member of the council should avoid kissing up to the public on their great volunteer work ... unless it impacts our costs of living in Stafford 4- limit the time the administrator has to cover critical points, of if so publish a formal presentation document- PDF available on our website. 5- All Stafford Council meetings should be monthly business meetings with factual data reports compiled in summary points. 6- Budget reports and performance reports on costs that are against the Budgets ... eliminate the term "OTHER" for any such expenses by department ... in the private sector with the $50 Million budget responsibilities, I had to present both in written and oral form to top group leaders ... 7- CFO should be a key part of this flow of information ... simple stuff and in a PDF format ... 8- A summary report in PDF form, I have a model that is a perfect form available ... let me know if there is interest. NO Charge
john colli January 03, 2013 at 06:56 PM
sal , we do not need you to represent us,thanks but no thanks , you babble. fyi unions built this nation not all are bad. they to have fallen into govt loophole spending. get rid of the unions and we will regress to the life in china with high suicides ,cheap wages ,people living in work dorms and have to install nets around the factory windows because of everybody jumping out. and as for the taxes , you can move to barnegat right up the road from your house and enjoy their taxes with no return what soever on your money. you have a choice nobody is keeping you hostage. and furthermore i do not have a union job.
Sal Sorce January 04, 2013 at 03:35 PM
John Colli. Many salaries in the township including pensions, sick day payouts, comp days, healthcare benefits. Seniors who were led to believe this was an area and township to live out their retirement years found out quickly that the township run by a solid Ocean County GOP connection. I became a Conservative Republican in 1969 when it was quite obvious it was possible to work in the Pharmaceutical business WITHOUT any union (except for loading dock teamsters). It was a love of a job that lasted 18-years, prepared me to earn enough to never rely on a UNION to drive my job or performance. John Colli, I do not need you to tell me what I should do in representing facts that should be at least a basic task ... to keep the elected officials on their toes. Read about other towns Toms River battle over Ritacco criminal actions over so many years ... reorganization and new legal representation "baffoons" was used by a resident when first session was conducted ... HMMMMMMMM looking forward to doing my best to inform the residents of Stafford ... Is the 2013 Calendar out yet????

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