Tom GilbertReThink Energy NJ Dear Editor: The new governor of New Jersey has a mandate to speed up our state’s shift to clean, renewable, homegrown energy like wind and solar. New Jerseyans have spoken. Nearly 90 percent of our registered voters feel renewable energy is important to New Jersey’s overall health. That was one of many encouraging findings from a recent Fairleigh Dickinson University PublicMin poll, which also found that nearly 75 percent are willing to pay $5 to $10 more per month on their utility bills for energy generated from solar and wind. About four of five (78 percent) New Jerseyans support 80 percent of the state’s energy coming from renewable sources by 2050. 77 percent believe our state should invest more in developing clean energy sources rather than fossil fuels and pipelines (22 percent), with three in five (64 percent) saying New Jersey is moving too slowly in this area. Three-fourths (73 percent) favor developing offshore wind energy off the New Jersey coast. 67 percent of voters believe that renewables are a better way to create jobs, and that the jobs associated with pipelines are not worth the risk to our environment and health.These are strong numbers. All elected officials would love to have these approval ratings. But important steps remain for clean energy supporters to translate this mandate into action.It is not enough for voters to want clean energy – we must actively engage in the political process to make our voices heard. If you are concerned about climate change and care about clean energy, what’s going on in Washington DC is dismaying. But New Jersey can forge its own path on these issues as states lead the way to a clean energy future.The new governor and legislature must hear that New Jerseyans want, and expect, this change. It’s important to continue speaking against the multiple unneeded fossil fuel pipelines proposed for our state – like PennEast – that will increase harmful carbon emissions, and to continue speaking for clean and efficient energy. Moving to clean energy is a win for our environment and our economy. We can protect our air and water while creating thousands of good jobs through offshore wind, solar and energy efficiency. Voters must speak up and take action to make sure our elected leaders hear this message loud and clear.
A pasta dinner fundraiser will be held in the Ocean City High School cafeteria on Feb. 5. The school board approved the budget resolution in a unanimous vote after a public hearing Wednesday (April 29) in which there was no public comment.__________Sign up for OCNJ Daily’s free newsletter and breaking news alerts__________For operating expenses, the new budget asks for exactly same amount of money from local taxpayers — $21,965,332 — that it did in the 2014-15 budget. But debt service decreases by about $125,000, largely due to a mandatory refund of $333,599 in unspent capital funds to taxpayers.The overall budget for 2015-16 is $41,025,294, down from last year’s $43,074,421. The decrease is primarily a function of less spending on capital projects.Last year was a “big number” for capital outlay, according to interim Business Administrator Mark Ritter, based on paying the balance of a major HVAC project at Ocean City High School and the bulk of a major renovation at Ocean City Primary School.Parts of those projects factored into tuition calculations for sending district towns, and Ocean City will collect $12,701,622 in tuition, compared to last year’s $10,970,021.Salaries and benefits account for about $31.8 million (more than 75 percent) of the overall $41 million budget, and that figure remains flat compared to last year, with planned retirements offsetting contractual increases, according to Ritter.School Choice Aid remains flat at about $2.7 million. There will be no expansion of the program that allows out-of-district students to attend Ocean City schools with the state paying the tuition.Ritter had said earlier this spring that he believes very strongly that School Choice aid from the state will decrease over time, if not disappear altogether. At the same time the capital projects that factored into increased sending district tuition will fall away.“It’s going to be a problem down the road,” Ritter said. “It’s nothing we’re doing right or wrong. It’s just the way the calculation works.”Some highlights of the new budget offered by the district:Technology updates district-wide with new computers at the high school. The school hopes to be a testing center when the SAT college preparatory test goes digital in 2017. The school would need 250 computers.Purchase of a 54-passenger bus to be used for co-curricular activities, field trips, special events and athletic events.New high school courses in video game programming, sports medicine and AP environmental science.Repainting of the Ocean City High School golden dome.Banking of the 2 percent cap for potential use in future budgets. Ocean City High SchoolThe Ocean City Board of Education on Wednesday gave final approval to a 2015-16 school budget that asks local taxpayers for $125,000 less than it did last year.At the same time, the total value of taxable real estate increased this year (the city’s ratable base climbed to about $11.3 billion), so Ocean City’s school tax rate will fall by one-third of a penny under the new budget.The owner of a $500,000 home will pay about $16.54 less in school taxes next year.School taxes typically make up roughly 25 percent of an Ocean City property owner’s overall tax bill.About 50 percent goes to municipal taxes, and City Council on April 23 approved a city budget that raises the tax levy by 3.31 percent (read more about the Ocean City municipal budget). The owner of a $500,000 home will pay an extra $43.25 in municipal taxes next year. The rest of a tax bill is made up of county taxes and a small library tax.
THE Rising Sun Turf Club’s planned eight-race Race of Champions meeting which was scheduled for tomorrow at the club’s facility, West Coast Berbice, has been cancelled.According to the club’s race organiser Nasrudeen Mohamed, the event has been cancelled because of the very poor entry of horses as well as the poor weather that has affected the conditions of the track.Mohamed said he will now focus on the Guyana Cup Rematch which is billed for December 31 and which is expected to attract Guyana’s best racing animals as well as those from neighbouring countries.Among the horses expected to be part of this exciting meet are: Princess She’s Not, Storm Bird, Just Call Me Boss and the undefeated champion Vera’s Finally. Just Call Me Boss returned to winning ways two Sundays ago at the Port Mourant meet.Storm Bird won with more than 10 lengths in at the same meet two Sundays ago, winning the 1200m race for horses classified H1 and Lower.