By Monmouth County Freeholder Thomas A. Arnone
I know there is much speculation recently on the integrity of the Assessment Demonstration Project and I want everyone to know that we hear you and we will support your inquiries. Earlier this year, I along with my fellow members of the Board of Chosen Freeholders asked Matt Clark, Monmouth County’s Tax Administrator, to hold a meeting for all the municipalities to explain the details of the Assessment Demonstration Project. It was our understanding that attendees left feeling more comfortable with what they heard and understood the benefits of the program. As a result of the close working relationships we have throughout the County, numerous Mayors have contacted the Freeholders with concerns over the uncertainty of this program and the recent negative media coverage surrounding it. While we all did our best to alleviate those concerns, we also understand the difficult position it puts most of them in. After the events the past few weeks, without making judgements on the program, its administrator or county tax board members, we believe it may be best to put this program on hold until all questions are answered and the Mayors can explain the long term tax benefit to the residents of Monmouth County . It is our hope that the timeline of January 1 will remain intact while these issues are vetted, as it gives the municipalities the ability to budget for the following year’s tax appeals. It is our hope that you continue to stay informed and aware of the tax assessment program through your municipality or at the County level.
Last week we held an epic press conference announcing the details of the Shark River Dredging project and brought together many of the key stakeholders from the project’s origination as well as those officials that brought the project to realization today, including Tom Catley, former Mayor of Neptune Township, Senator Jennifer Beck, NJ Department of Environmental Protection (NJ DEP) Commissioner Bob Martin and Nicole Minutoli, Director of Multimodal Services for New Jersey Department of Transportation (NJ DOT), Belmar Mayor Matt Doherty, Neptune City Mayor Robert Brown, Wall Township Mayor George Newberry, Avon-By-The-Sea Mayor Bob Mahon, and Committeeman Randy Bishop. I also want to thank Genevieve Clifton, Manager of NJDOT, Office of Maritime Resources for her commitment and understanding of the importance of this beautiful waterway and its importance to the quality of life in southern Monmouth County. This project would not be where is today if not for the efforts of Genevieve and her staff.
Eighteen years ago, I was a councilman in Neptune City when I first advocated for keeping the Shark River a viable waterway. A coalition of State, County and local leaders have effectively advocated for the project and also committed funding toward the dredging that is expected to begin before the end of 2015. The financial commitments breakdown as follows: Monmouth County $1.1 million; Neptune City $100,000; Neptune Township $450,000; Wall Township $315,000; Belmar amount pending approval of town council.
NJDOT identified viable solutions that included using innovative technologies to remove approximately 102,000 cubic yards of sediment comprised of sand and silt. The sediment will be hydraulically dredged and piped via a secure welded pipeline to the selected dewatering locations. The dewatered material will then be trucked to the Monmouth County Reclamation Center for beneficial use.
I commend my fellow members of the Monmouth County Board of Chosen Freeholders and county administration for their support on this project, financially and for finding a use for the dredge spoils at the County’s Reclamation Center. The County has long continued to work cooperatively with these local officials, as well as state and government agencies to move this dredging project forward. The impact of this project is huge, for the environment, the shorelines, commercial fishing, recreational activities. This project is a win for the entire Jersey Shore region, not just those on the shark river. I look forward to hopefully seeing the project begin later this fall.
As always, thank you for your continued support.