Above Image: Atlantic City Boardwalk by PressofAtlanticCity.com. Atlantic City build the world’s first Boardwalk in 1854 so visitors could look at the ocean and feel fresh sea breezes without tracking sand into hotels and railroad cars. However, visitors can no longer enjoy such ocean views or breezes. Both have been blocked by artificial piles of sand mandated by federal and state government since the late 1990s.
Last Tuesday, NJ Governor Phil Murphy came to Atlantic City to sign a bill to spend $100 million to repair and replaced Boardwalks in selected New Jersey beach towns. That money comes from $1.9 trillion borrowed by the U.S. Government in March of 2021 for “COVID-19 Stimulus” (American Rescue Plan). That Plan was approved by Democrats through a “budget reconciliation” process that did not require Republican support. The measure was approved 219 t0 209 in the House. The Senate was evenly split between Republicans and Democrats until Democratic Vice-President Kamala Harris cast the tie-breaking vote to approve the measure.
The Federal government has total debts of $32 trillion, not counting unfunded social security, Medicare, and pension obligations. It has yearly income of roughly $4.6 trillion from taxes and other revenue. That Federal government debt is roughly 7 times more than its yearly income. It is like a family earning $60,000 per year having $420,000 in credit card debt, not counting its home mortgage.
When President Biden took office in 2021, the federal debt was $27 trillion. When Republican President Trump took office in 2017, the federal debt was $20 trillion. When Democratic President Obama took office in 2009, the federal debt was $11 trillion. When Republican President Bush took office in 2001, the federal debt was $6 trillion.
Governor Murphy and Atlantic City Mayor Marty Small announced that most of the $100 million will be used to repair and reconstruct the Boardwalks in Atlantic City and Wildwood. Local officials say that many Boardwalks, like Atlantic City’s and Wildwood’s, are in need of tens of millions of dollars of renovation and repair — especially to their structural supports.
This is because most towns in New Jersey, unlike every condominium association in Florida, do not have reserve funds or systematic replacement programs.
Boardwalks are made of wood. They need to be replaced every 15 to 20 years. Until the 1960’s, New Jersey shore communities routinely replaced sections of their Boardwalks every few years so they never needed complete replacement. They also maintained reserve funds to pay for this. Today, many shore towns simply let their boardwalks fall apart until they need complete replacement. Then they use expensive bonds for big Wall Street loans, or beg for state or federal bailouts to pay for it.
Many towns in New Jersey have this problem. They let their streets, roads, and bridges become unsafe or almost unusable before taking “emergency” action to replace them. Many school districts wait for roofs to leak, and heating, and air conditioning systems to completely fail before issuing bonds for big loans to replace them. The most irresponsible towns and school districts often get the biggest state and federal bailouts because they often also have the best political influence and connections.
Many condo apartment buildings have this same problem. Directors of condominium association boards often want to be popular and save money on their own units by keeping monthly condo fees low. They often do this by waiting too long before replacing old roofs, elevators, heating and air conditioning or doing outside painting and brick work. This often causes big “special assessments” or dangerous conditions.
Florida made a law years ago to deal with this problem. It requires all condominium associations to set up “reserves accounts” with enough money to pay for these repairs and replacements when they are needed. Every officer and board member is required to sign a written oath that they have read and understood this law, and that he or she can be held personally liable and charged with a crime for not complying. Should New Jersey have a law like this for all county and local government and public school officials?
Finally, it is worth mentioning that towns and local governments in New Jersey often delay making needed repairs because the costs are so high. Much if this is because since 2003, all government agencies in New Jersey are forced to comply with “project labor agreements”. That means they must pay wages and follow rules and procedures on every work site that make repairs and construction on public projects far more expensive that identical work for privately owned projects. The “prevailing” wages and work rules are not prevailing anywhere other than on union construction sites.
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