With the holidays upon us, please keep in mind The Made in Monmouth Holiday Shopping Guide is ready. It is available on the county’s website by going to www.visitmonmouth.com. The Monmouth County Board of Chosen Freeholders encourages people to shop local for their holiday gifts. Additionally, as liaison to the Department of Economic Development, I am very proud to announce that Made in Monmouth is expanding. There will be two mini-Made in Monmouth events for the holiday season. The first one is scheduled for December 13th at the Manalapan Community Center on Route 33. This event is being hosted by the Board of Chosen Freeholders, Manalapan Township mayor and committee and the Manalapan Economic Development Committee. The second mini-Made in Monmouth is being hosted by the Freeholders and Cream Ridge Winery. It will be held December 20th at the winery in Cream Ridge. Both of these events give our small businesses the opportunity to expand their customer base and give more shoppers the opportunity to support local business.
Vin Gopal. Underneath that boyish smile and pleasant demeanor is a nasty, dirty, ruthless political operative. The Monmouth Democratic Chairman showed his true colors in 2013 with his defamatory allegations against Sean DiSomma in the Red Bank Council race. Give him several hundred thousand dollars, which the NJ Democrats did this year, and he tries to destroy the good names of distinguished public servants simply because they hold offices he wants. Monmouth Republicans, particularly some in the legislative delegation, who are friendly with Gopal should reconsider their judgement about him. It no longer can be said that Vin is a wolf in sheeps clothing. He’s a wolf.
The NJ Democratic State Committee, Essex County Clerk Chris Durkin, Senator Cory Booker, Assemblyman Joe Cryan, various labor unions and anyone else who gave Gopal money. They got nothing for it.
The Asbury Park Press. Neptune Nudniks is no longer an appropriate moniker for them. They are not stupid or incompetent as “nudnik” implies. They are dishonest and lazy. Their coverage of the Monmouth County Freeholders race was spoon fed or edited by Gopal and his candidates Larry Luttrell and Giuseppe “Joe” Grillo. Gopal, Luttrell and Grillo used APP to counter MMM’s coverage of the race, which we find hilarious and complimentary. It didn’t work because APP no longer has influence in Monmouth County.
Their election night coverage was a disaster. While APP was reporting on software problems at the Monmouth County Clerk’s Office, MMM was reporting election results.
The Monmouth County Clerk’s Office. The Monmouth County Election Results website is the New Jersey equivalent of HeathCare.gov.
UPDATE: August, 27, Curley pulls nursing home sale resolution
Freeholder John Curley called this morning to say that he has pulled his resolution to sell the Monmouth County owned nursing homes from this week’s agenda. County CFO Craig Marshall is on vacation. Curley wants Marshall available to address all of the financial concerns regarding the proposed sale. Curley expects to reintroduce the resolution in September.
Reductions in Medicaid payments for long term care under the Affordable Care Act have led to increasing deficits at Monmouth County’s two government owned nursing homes.
The John L. Montgomery Care Center in Freehold and the Geraldine L. Thompson Care Center in Wall are owned and operated by Monmouth County’s government. Property tax payers have been subsidizing the long term care of the elderly, disabled and infirm residing in these facilities for decades. From 2007 through 2013 the cumulative deficit funded by Monmouth property tax payers was about $40 million. Despite cost cutting measures and union givebacks, the combined deficit this year is on track to exceed $13 million plus the cost of repairs and capital improvements required to keep the facilities in compliance with state and federal regulations, due to cutbacks in the amount that Medicaid pays for patient care under ObamaCare. 98% of the patients at Montgomery and Thompson are insured by Medicaid.
Freeholder John Curley has been pushing his colleagues on the all Republican Board of Chosen Freeholders to sell the nursing homes for years. Every time the issue gets traction or public attention, patients in wheelchairs and staff members of the nursing facilities show up at Freeholder meetings and plead with the Freeholders not to sell the facilities. The patients’ stories are heart wrenching. The declarations of love for their patients by the staff members are moving.
Monmouth County Freeholder Director Lillian G. Burry
Amidst a summer awash in bad news, there is a very good news story I’m pleased to share regarding the redevelopment of Fort Monmouth; a topic I am asked about frequently. Since the fort was closed by the U.S. Army in 2005, I have been a member of both public-private agencies, led by the state, that first planned, and is now executing plans to transform the fort into a hub of recreation, commerce, technology, innovation, education, residential and retail use. Tangible results emerged last year and continue to increase this year. More are on the near horizon, bringing jobs, ratables and opportunities for the public to enjoy new open spaces and recreational options within the borders of Eatontown, Oceanport and Tinton Falls.
As the county’s representative, first on the Fort Monmouth Economic Redevelopment Planning Authority (FMERPA) and currently on the Fort Monmouth Economic Revitalization Authority (FMERA), I identified certain facilities and spaces for county use early on. Last year, the Monmouth County Department of Public Works and Engineering took over, refurbished and is now utilizing the fort’s former motor pool, bringing critical services including snow and storm damage removal closer to that region. The county Park System now runs the former teen center and pool, a beautiful facility. Programs initiated there last year have been well-attended and growing. This year, we opened the pool for classes. The reception and attendance have been outstanding. We hope to increase programs at the pool next summer. That’s just the beginning…
Asbury Park – An overflow crowd of Asbury Park residents attended the Monmouth County Board of Chosen Freeholders meeting in the city last evening to rally the county’s governing body to save the north end beachfront property known as Bradley Cove.
iStar Financial, the city’s master developer, owns the development rights to the site and has a proposal to build 15 town homes on the property. The Asbury Park Council passed a resolution earlier this month to apply for Green Acres funding to preserve the property.
The freeholders were sympathetic to the public outcry to prevent the development, but made it clear that the ball is in Asbury Park’s court. Prior Asbury Park administrations sold the development rights to the property and approved a tax abatement to support the development. Community members are now trying to undue that deal, and seem be hoping that Freeholder Board has the power to make that happen.
When I ran for Freeholder in 2011, I ran on the promise that I would spend every day in office working for the taxpayers of Monmouth County. Three years later, Monmouth County’s Board of Chosen Freeholders has just delivered its fourth straight budget with no change to the property tax levy. Four straight years.
This wasn’t simply chance and luck had nothing to do with it. I fought hard and committed to making tough cuts in order to meet our commitment to Monmouth County taxpayers—to provide the high level of services our residents are accustomed to while employing the utmost fiscal prudence.
In 2010, the Monmouth County budget peaked at $493,400,000. Since then, this Freeholder Board has reduced the budget to the tune of $12.5 million in total savings over the last four years. And this is to say nothing of the $60+ million in spending that was cut over the same time period as a result of the budget work that happens all year long behind the scenes.
It’s not without its challenges. The budget process requires a delicate balance. After all, a low budget and no tax increase mean nothing if taxpayers then suffer due to declining and diminished services. The County still has to provide the services that our residents need – that’s its mandate. But it’s the mandate of the Board of Chosen Freeholders to make sure we’re providing that top-notch service in the most efficient and effective way possible.
For the fourth straight year, the Monmouth County Board of Chosen Freeholders adopted a county budget with no tax increase.
At their meeting April 10 meeting the Freeholder Board, comprised of 5 Republicans, adopted $480.9 million budget, a $100,000 spending reduction from last year’s budget. The amount raised through property taxes is $302,475,000, the same amount raised every year since 2010.
“It is a challenge every year to try to cut spending without impacting the level of services our taxpayers have come to expect,” said Freeholder Lillian G. Burry. “This process is not something that is done in haste. This budget reflects the months of work that has gotten us to a flat tax rate for the fourth year in a row.”
“This year, an internal budget subcommittee met with each department to look for duplicative services and identify areas for consolidation and savings,” said Freeholder Deputy Director Gary J. Rich, Sr., liaison to the Finance Department. “This process has yielded savings in the areas of information technology, finance, human resources, building maintenance and legal services.”
Monmouth County relies less on taxes than most other New Jersey counties. As a percentage of the overall budget, Monmouth County’s taxes comprise 62 percent of the total budget, historically behind Union, Hudson and Essex counties.
“The department heads deserve a lot of credit for their hard work in paring down the budget,” said Rich. “This is the fifth year in which we asked for concessions from the departments and, as a result, this is the fourth year in which the tax levy has remained the same.”
The Monmouth County “Made in Monmouth” Expo is rapidly approaching. It is an annual event showcasing products exclusively produced in Monmouth County. “Made in Monmouth” is a free event for both vendors and visitors; its purpose is to encourage people to shop local. To date 142 vendors are confirmed registered. The products sold at this event, made right here in the county are creative and nothing less than amazing. I am also happy to report that we are partnering with the Food Bank of Monmouth and Ocean counties this year to conduct a food drive at the event. We are asking our vendors as well as people that are attending to bring a donation of canned or dried food for the Food Bank. The third annual “Made in Monmouth” is Saturday, April 12, 2014 at the MAC Building at Monmouth University in West Long Branch. For more information, please call 732-431-7470.
On March 27, 2014, Verizon recognized the student team from Biotechnology High School, Freehold, one of Monmouth County’s premier high schools, for their achievement of Best in State, Best in Region and National Best Educational Application Concept status in the 2013 Verizon Application Challenge. It was an honor for me to be present at the recent ceremony as the student team received this recognition. The Board of Chosen Freeholders is extremely proud of the students at Biotechnology H.S. on this accomplishment and commends their efforts in achieving such high accolades.
On behalf of The Board of Chosen Freeholders and as liaison to the Department of Shared Services, I recently hosted and participated in a meeting at the Monmouth County Connection in Neptune to assist Middletown in their exploration of creating an animal shelter to service Monmouth County municipalities. Many municipalities are facing serious capacity and public health issues in this area as well as heavy annual increases in service costs which are greatly reducing their ability to meet other service needs in the community. Middletown contacted the county to assist in bringing together as many towns as possible to discuss this issue, engage the towns for their ideas and input and strategize on how to address these common issues together. The meeting went extremely well and the towns that attended were very appreciative of both Middletown’s and the County’s efforts. There was very high interest in moving forward and approximately 30 towns expressed interest in our initial outreach.