This week we are finally experiencing some warmer temperatures and the sun has returned to us! Let’s hope the weather continues to improve as we head towards our “unofficial” start to summer, Memorial Day Weekend.
We’ve been pretty busy at the County the past several weeks. I am extremely pleased to say that despite all the rain we have had, the paving portion of the Ocean Avenue project is finished, with striping and some handicap accessible ramps yet to be completed. We are well paced to finish this project before the start of the Memorial Day weekend. Great job by our Public Works and Engineering staff in overseeing the logistics of the project, as well as the contractor, Stavola Contracting Company based in Tinton Falls.
It’s officially spring and here in Monmouth County the signs of the changing season are all around us. Flowers are blooming, the baseball, soccer and lacrosse fields are bustling with excitement, and the big yard clean ups have begun in all our neighborhoods.
Here in Monmouth County, our calendar is filled with activities for all ages. As we enter our spring tourism season, I hope our residents and visitors will take advantage of all the events our beautiful county has to offer. The winter is over and it is time for everyone to get outside and to enjoy the abundant events in the beautiful parks located here in our County, from the beautiful shores to the woodland trails in western most part of Monmouth. With the weather warming up, many events will begin to take place in the great outdoors. At Historic Allaire Village, the Early Spring Flea Market at Historic Allaire Village takes place from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. on April 9 and the Spring Festival is on April 16 from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Freeholder Director Tom Arnone and Deputy Director Serena DiMaso at the Asbury Park St. Pat’s Parade
The past two weekends have been filled with fun festivities throughout the county and the list of activities throughout the rest of March includes parades, plays and performances. March is the month to celebrate the end of winter by getting outside and with two holidays happening this month, there are plenty of great events to choose from.
There’s nothing like a parade to usher in the month and the St. Patrick’s Day celebration in Belmar on Sunday, March 6 was the perfect place to do it. Those of you who were in attendance may have seen me, along with my colleagues, on our 2016 float – it was a great way to participate in the parade – we had the best view! I also had a great time at the Asbury Park St. Patrick’s Day Parade on Sunday, March 13 walking with Freeholder Serena DiMaso, along with Mayor Moor and members of the Council and look forward to keeping the festive spirit alive in the Highlands by walking in their parade on March 19. March 20 marks the first day of spring, so take the kids outside (if weather permits) and join the Monmouth County Park System for a nature walk at 10 a.m. at the Manasquan Reservoir to look for signs of the new season. Log onto www.visitmonmouth.comfor a full list of activities throughout the County.
By Freeholder Director Arnone, Thomas.Arnone@co.monmouuth.nj.us
Monmouth County Freeholder Director Tom Arnone
Mother Nature may be playing tricks on us with the weather again – she’s bringing in extremely low temperatures, then teasing us with spring like weather in the 60s this past weekend. But there is no trickery here at the County, I made a promise last month that I would provide our residents with a much needed tax break, and I am holding true to the that statement, along with my fellow freeholders by proposing an overall tax cut of $4.5 million. This is the first time, I believe, that freeholders have ever decreased taxes to the county residents.
We propose collecting $302.5 million from property taxes, down from $307 million just last year. At the end of 2015, Monmouth County completed the sale of its two care centers which eliminated the yearly operating losses that the facilities have incurred for several years. The public auction of the two facilities generated $32.4 million in revenue; approximately $18 million more than was projected.
Happy New Year Everyone. I am extremely pleased to have been selected as Freeholder Director for 2016. It is an honor once again to represent the board in this capacity. Last week at our annual county re-organization meeting I had an opportunity to briefly review my department’s accomplishments; ones that I believe have provided significant income to our county as well as savings to the taxpayers.
First I would like to thank my family for their support along the way as well as my, fellow Freeholders for their continued dedication to our county. In addition, I would like to wish all our Mayors best of luck as we begin the New Year.
Believe it or not, the holidays are upon us. We’ve been extremely fortunate as the weather has been mild thus far, allowing many of us to continue to enjoy the outdoor activities we love to do throughout our beautiful county – from the beaches and parks, to local tree and menorah lightings, to shopping in our beautiful downtowns and local shopping centers.
I can’t stress enough how important it is to shop local, I encourage all of you to do some this holiday season when buying gifts for your loved ones. I was happy to join our Lieutenant Governor, Kim Guadagno, on Small Business Saturday (the Saturday after Thanksgiving), along with my fellow Freeholder, Serena DiMaso, on a tour of several local businesses in the Red Bank region. We were pleased to see these businesses thriving on that start to the holiday shopping season, as well as the crowds we saw on the bustling sidewalks throughout the downtown.
It’s a proven fact that independent and locally-owned businesses recirculate more revenue locally. The spending done by a local business to operate (including inventory, utilities, equipment and salary to employees) directly impacts the economy within our own community. In addition, the indirect impact happens as employees and business owners spend their income within our local economy, recirculating dollars through their earned money.
What an incredible fall season we have experienced thus far. The weather has been extremely kind, allowing us to enjoy the amazing landscapes Monmouth County has to offer. I hope that you attended some of the fall events and festivals held in our beautiful county parks and at our beaches, and also those coordinated in your hometowns. The leaves have changed and that means after leaf collection is completed, the county will begin to prep for the upcoming winter season. We are already collecting salt and materials to safeguard our over 1000 miles of roadways when the inclement weather presents itself. The county will be ready as always.
In the meantime, you may have noticed our red trucks mobilized throughout the county as the Public Works and Engineering staff have been busy the past few months, working hard to enhance the infrastructure and efficiency of our roadways, bridge and culvert structures, traffic signals and natural resources.
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.
After a very long period time and with many notable road blocks and obstacles, I, along with a great team of my colleagues, including Senator Jennifer Beck (R-11), and Neptune Committeeman Randy Bishop, am so happy to announce that the New Jersey Department of Transportation’s (NJDOT’s) Office of Maritime Resources has awarded the bid to complete the Shark River dredging project. The project’s contract was awarded to Mobile Pumping & Dredging Co., of Chester, PA.
This huge step forward is a result of years of work coordinating with the many agencies that have authority over this project. After being involved in this project for more than fifteen years as Mayor of Neptune City and now as a member of the Board of Chosen Freeholders, I am personally very happy to see this project finally begin. I have worked with other officials throughout the years whom were also very passionate about this project, including Tom Catley, former Mayor of Neptune Township, as well as other past mayors of the surrounding towns and those in office today. 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.
This is a large project, with approximately 106,000 cubic yards of material to be dredged. With cooperation from the Monmouth County Reclamation Center, which is able to accept and reuse the dredged material, and the Monmouth County Board of Chosen Freeholders providing funding, we have made this project a reality. Not one part of the Shark River project was easy or simple, but we found a way to accomplish this.
I can’t believe I am saying this, but summer has slipped away before our eyes. While the calendar does not officially declare autumn until September 23, the unofficial end of the season is Labor Day, when our beaches officially close, lifeguard towers are put away and the school doors open. As most of us locals know, some of the best beach and park days are still ahead of us, as September and October provide us with the perfect weather to continue to enjoy these gems we are lucky enough to call home.
The 2015 summer tourism season went extremely well, as we were blessed with great weather – modest temperatures and very little rain; in addition both the Memorial Day and Labor Day holidays provided us with an extra two weeks of the season.
I am extremely happy to hear that most beach towns are providing initial reports that badge sales were up over last year, with some reporting the 2015 season as a record year. Asbury Park has already reported that beach badge sales were up 21% over last year and Belmar has already exceeded their final total number from 2014. Spring Lake officials have reported that beaches have been crowded all season and the shops on 3rd Avenue are doing record business. Long Branch not only reported record crowds at Ocean Fest, but has continued to experience a packed beach and boardwalk all summer, with all Pier Village shops and restaurants doing very well.