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The List: Top New Jersey Municipalities with Highest Per-Capita Budgets

Monday, April 11, 2016   (0 Comments)
Share | 4/11/2016

The problem of public overspending at the municipal level is illustrated with devastating clarity by the extremely high cost of Atlantic City’s government, according to Gov. Chris Christie and Senate President Stephen Sweeney (D- Gloucester). As the governor and the senator have campaigned hard for a state takeover of the financially beleaguered casino resort, they have argued that the city’s large budget despite a relatively small population shows that the mayor and the council are unable or unwilling to make desperately needed cuts. “Atlantic City has 38,000 people and a budget of $262 million,” Sweeney said in a TV interview. Christie, meanwhile, said, “Atlantic City costs over $6,600 a person to run the government. In Newark, the state’s largest city, it is $2,800 a person to run the government.” Mayor don Guardian responded that the comparisons are unfair because of the large number of nonresidents who require city services. Some 51,000 workers come into Atlantic City daily, working shifts around the clock at casinos and other businesses, and at least 200,000 visitors are in town every Friday, Saturday, and Sunday, he said. On one hand, Atlantic City does have one of the highest per-capita budgets in the state, ranking 18th out of 565. It spent $6,631 per resident in 2014, not including the school budget. It stands out even more because the other high-spending municipalities are small boroughs and towns. The next-highest-spending city of comparable size is Linden, with 40,000 residents and much smaller per-capita budget of only $2,417. Statewide, the average per-capita municipal budget was $1,466. Atlantic City is very different from towns like Avalon or Sea Isle City, but its special conditions still led the researchers to count it as part of the resort class. Other special circumstances can also contribute to higher per-capita spending. The authors of the Bloustein report, Raphael J. Caprio and Marc Pfeiffer, noted that the wealthiest suburbs and poorest cities have the highest cost of local government services, eflecting the willingness of affluent taxpayers to pay for a higher level of services, and the greater need of poorer populations for more police protection and social services that are paid for primarily with state aid. The list below draws from a raking of all municipalities (they do not include school budgets).

1.      Teterboro, Bergen County

Per-capita budget: $73,426. Population: 67

2.      Pine Valley, Camden County

Per-capita budget: $38,841. Population:12

3.      Mantoloking, Ocean County

Per-Capita budget: $29,285. Population 296

4.      Travistock, Camden County

Per-capita budget: $27,647. Population 5

5.      Avalon, Cape May County

Per-capita budget: $19,127. Population: 1,334

6.      Stone Harbor, Cape May County

Per-capita budget: $16,588. Population: 866

7.      Deal, Monmouth County

Per-capita budget: $16,348. Population: 75

8.      Harvey Cedars, Ocean County

Per-capita budget: $12,725. Population: 337

9.      Sea Isle City, Cape May County

Per-capita budget: $10,360. Population: 2,114

10.  Beach Haven, Ocean City

Per-capita budget: $9,594. Population: 1,170

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