Egg Harbor Residents Question Village Board Spending Priorities

Despite a 2.5 percent increase in its tax levy and a 2017 annual budget 13.5 percent higher than the 2016 budget – $824,551 vs. $688,705 – Village of Egg Harbor residents who filled all the seats in the meeting room had nothing to say about the budget when the Board of Trustees passed it at the Nov. 7 board meeting.

Instead residents were there to voice concerns about what one unidentified man described as the village’s “wild spending programs.” This resident felt the village was pouring too much money into projects to benefit retail businesses and tourists. “The residents always take a backseat,” he said.

One woman identified only as “Barbara” complained that the library project has become a “behemoth” and that a reported annual $100,000 to staff and maintain the new library is a financial burden unlike any other library/community building in the county.

She and several other people complained about a lack of communication and transparency from the village, which is puzzling when you consider that public meetings regarding village plans for downtown enhancements and a new library/community center have been going on for years now.

Trustee John Heller asked the board why the village is considering so many projects without the money to do them all. He also pointed out that the Egg Harbor Enhancement project was listed as starting after Labor Day 2017, when in reality it probably won’t happen for another four or five years due to a lack of funds to pay for the multi-million dollar project

Village Administrator Ryan Heise said it is up to the board to decide what the funding priorities are for the village. The board decided the library/community center is the top priority, followed by beach improvements and having WPS bury utility lines along County G to stop the frequent power outages for village residents caused by downed lines. The line burial would take place in conjunction with work the county is planning for County G. That means Enhance Egg Harbor is on hold for now.

Trustee Bob Dickson reported that the Library Ad Hoc Committee looked at ways to reduce the cost of the new library/community center, and got it down to approximately $5.1 million. He said the Kress family, which has already donated generously to the project, has promised to come forward with another $2 million if the village provides another $1 million, for a total of $2 million. Dickson said the village has already spent $500,000 on the project, which went out for bid three weeks ago.

The board also approved a new ordinance allowing village businesses one outside display rack or table.

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