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 Candidate Larry Luttrell partying with a model and squinting like Frank Pallone in Atlantic City in February, 2013. facebook photo
If you’re a Monmouth County Democrat thinking about a career in government, working on Larry Luttrell and Joe Grillo’s freeholder campaign could be hazardous to your ambitions.
Luttrell and Grillo told the Asbury Park Press that the fact that Freeholder Director Lillian Burry’s 2011 campaign treasurer, Bill Bucco, was given a raise and a promotion after three years in a county administrative job where he streamlined operations and found $200,000 in revenue due the county that was never collected is “politics at its worst.”
I must have missed their press release condemning Assembly Speaker Vincent Prieto’s new job as a “consultant” with ties to South Jersey Democratic Boss George Norcross, which Preito somehow manages to do while collecting six figures from his three government jobs.
Recently a Mayor’s Luncheon was held in Belmar for the purpose of giving Belmar businesses a forum to meet and discuss tourism and how it benefits businesses at the Jersey Shore. I was happy to attend and join Belmar Mayor Matt Doherty in greeting the local business owners and to share with them what the County Tourism Division does to promote the industry. The luncheon was held at Ollie Klein’s Waterside Café located on River Road in Belmar.
Additionally, we are currently working toward entering into a shared services agreement with Hightstown to utilize the Monmouth County Vehicle Wash facilities. This is yet another approach to help reduce costs and redundancies in the delivery of public services, while adding some additional revenue for the county to help offset our operational costs. Because Hightstown already has a shared services agreement with Roosevelt Borough for trash collection which is hauled to the Monmouth County Reclamation Center, it makes good sense for them to utilize the county vehicle wash facilities as a value added shared services while they are in the area. Howell Township has just been added to our MODIV property tax assessment shared services system. This system has been recognized for innovation and excellence in public service by the Harvard Kennedy School and Moody’s Investor’s Service for its role in streamlining the delivery and implementation of the tax assessment process. Certain municipalities have seen savings of up to 65% through this shared service.
Beck: Federal and State Agencies Haven’t Approved Drying Sites
Governor Chris Christie told his Town Hall gathering in Belmar yesterday afternoon that the dredging of Shark River is being held up because the municipalities along the river and Monmouth County can not agree on a destination for the dredge spoils to be dumped.
The issue has gathered increased public attention in recent months due to a massive fish kill in the river last May. 310 tons of dead fish were removed from the shoreline of the estuary that feeds into the Atlantic through the inlet between Belmar and Avon-by-the-Sea and extents 11 miles through Neptune and Wall Townships.
In answering a question from a man who identified himself as Bob from Wall, Christie said that he supports the dredging, fought for money from FEMA to pay for the dredging and would impose a solution on the county and municipalities if he had the authority to do so. He said he had been briefed on the issue three weeks ago.
Maybe the Governor remembered a briefing from a different dredging project when answering Bob’s question.
Both the Monmouth County and Neptune landfills are willing to take the dredge spoils, according to Senator Jennifer Beck. The river hasn’t been dredged, Beck said in a phone interview last night, because over the last two decades various federal and state agencies have rejected every proposed location for the dredged materials to dry before being moved to their final disposal site.
At the last meeting of the Board of Chosen Freeholders, the Board authorized an award of bid for an asphalt recycler for the Department of Public Works and Engineering. This equipment will allow the Divisions of Bridge and Highway to take waste asphalt from construction projects throughout the year and turn it into high quality hot mix, re-using it for road repairs. This will reduce our disposal and operating costs, along with being environmentally friendly. The cost of the recycled material is 75% less than the cost for new material.
Last year the county spent over $150,000.00 for cold mix, base material and disposal of waste material. As an added benefit, every ton of asphalt the county recycles will benefit Freehold Township in the amount received from the State of New Jersey in their tonnage grant.
Senator Cory Booker is lending his star power and fund raising prowess to the Democratic Freeholder candidates who are looking to unseat Freeholder Director Lillian Burry and Deputy Director Gary Rich in November.
Booker is headlining a July 25 fundraiser for Larry Luttrell and Joe Grillo at the Wall Township home of Gary and Linda Faraci.
TRAFFIC SIGNALS are of great significance in that they help to control the flow of traffic as well as helping to ensure the safety of our residents. Recently, there was a traffic signal activation ceremony held on the corner of Locust Avenue and Parker Roadin the Borough of West Long Branch. This project came about as a result of Mayor Tucci requesting that the County study this intersection to allow better traffic flow from Parker Road onto County Route 15 (Locust Avenue) and to improve safety and access for the Frank Antonides Middle School and the West Long Branch Community Center. Based on the County’s study our in-house County engineers designed this state of the art traffic signal which has dedicated turn lanes, improved crosswalks and push-button control pedestrian signals. The traffic signal uses LED lights that costs less to operate and is eco-friendly.
On May 12, 2014, a massive fish kill began in the Shark River. Over the next 10 days, 310 tons of fish would die and wash ashore. According to the NJ Department of Environmental Protection, the cause of the fish kill was due to a large number of bait fish entering the river to seek refuge from bluefish and bass. The concentration of fish, coupled with warm and shallow waters, depleted the dissolved oxygen levels, resulting in the die-off. Despite that this event appeared to be a naturally occurring phenomenon, the die-off was a wake-up call that we should not take the health of the River for granted. While a number of factors working together may have contributed to the event, there are some people that believe this devastating ecological event could have been avoided with preventative maintenance, or more specifically, the long-overdue dredging of the Shark River.
With summer right around the corner The Monmouth Ocean Development Council is preparing for the 2014 Summer Kickoff to the Jersey Shore. It will be Wednesday, May 21, 2014 on the boardwalk in Asbury outside McLoone’s Supper Club. I will be joining Grace Hanlon, Executive Director of Travel & Tourism State of NJ and Freeholder Joe Vicari of Ocean County as the guest speakers.
Monmouth County 2014 Tourism Season/Arts Partnership are true partners in that they both support businesses large and small in Monmouth County. They play an important role in building and sustaining our economic vibrancy. The Arts and Tourism partnership helps to enhance the quality of life throughout Monmouth County. Monmouth County is home to 2,080 arts related businesses. These businesses employ 5,803 people.
The Monmouth County Board of Chosen Freeholders supports the MOCO Arts and Tourism partnership. We encourage our visitors and residents to visit our museums, theaters and our film, architecture and design companies as well as our beaches, boardwalks, historic sites, parks and attractions.
Visitors to Monmouth County spent $2.2 billion in 2013, up 5% over visitor spending in 2012, with Monmouth County seeing about 5 million visitors a year. There are over 32,000 people employed in tourism related jobs in Monmouth County.