Little Egg Harbor Bond Rating Upgraded to AA

Jan 17, 2017

The Little Egg Harbor Township Committee approved a resolution to sell $4.5 million in general improvement bonds to get a better interest rate on this debt.

Business Administrator and Chief Financial Officer Garrett Loesch said the upshot of the process is that the township’s bond rating has been upgraded to AA by Standard and Poor’s. This indicates the township is operating on sound fiscal policy, Loesch told the committee during the Jan. 12 municipal meeting.

The township also authorized the police department to acquire a free Maxxpro-Plus MRAP military vehicle from government surplus. Loesch said the police chief’s administrative assistant, Tom Bonaforte, has been resolute in finding free equipment for the department. The vehicle has a wide stance and high truck bed that will keep it above flood tide water in case of emergencies.

Lt. Michael Hart said the hardest part of getting the vehicle is having it shipped to the township. “During the height of Storm Sandy, people needed to be rescued from their homes. And the township lost several vehicles (due to saltwater). With this vehicle, we can get in and out during high tide situations.”

The committee introduced an ordinance to create a new community advisory board, as Mayor Ray Gormley had outlined during his installment as mayor on Jan. 1. The new board will not supplant the senior advisory board, but will be a second board that will stand on its own. The advisory board could consist of 24 members and could include members already on the senior advisory board, but would also include members from other areas of the township such as Parkertown and West Tuckerton, explained Gormley.

Under questioning from the public, Township Attorney Jean Cipriani said the advisory committee would not be subject to the Open Public Meetings Act because as an advisory committee only, it takes no official action.

Gormley said that its meetings would be open to the public but there would be no public comment period.

Little Egg Harbor Senior Advisory Board member Art Mooney asked if there would be a secretary and minutes taken so the general public could get an idea of the discussions. Gormley said he thought there would be. He also said anyone wishing to be part of the board could contact him or the township clerk.

Township Engineer Jason Worth said the Streetscape project was wrapping up. It came in $66,000 under budget, so he requested that the state’s Economic Development Authority allow the township to extend the curbs and sidewalks on Radio Road to Country Club Boulevard. That work will begin in March.

From discussions between the township committee and public works department, Worth said the township had chosen Pine Hurst Drive (off Atlantic Boulevard) as a contender for the 2017 NJ Department of Transportation Municipal Aid application.

Oak Lane would be a good candidate for an application for a state “Safe Streets to Transit” grant for sidewalks, because it is a route serviced by New Jersey Transit buses.

Worth said he had also followed up on a park and ride proposal for the Garden State Parkway interchange with Route 539. “The state has completed their ‘snake’ (herpetological environmental impact) study and completed the plans for the turnpike authority and (NJ) Pinelands Commission. We are looking at a spring construction window.”

As for a recent issue concerning the draining of Roberts’ Pond, which upset neighbors, Worth said he had spoken with the NJDEP Bureau of Dam Safety and learned that permits for repairs to the dam should be approved “any day now.” Worth said Bass River Township has taken responsibility to make the repairs after their employee knocked a hole in the earthen dam in December that led to the water draining away.

During the committee comments, Committeeman David Schlick repeatedly asked the attorney for the reason she was replacing Robin LaBue. Both attorneys work for the firm of Gilmore and Monahan in Toms River.

“Was that Gilmore’s decision alone?” Schlick asked.

Cipriani said LaBue was still with the law firm but she was now handling the business for Little Egg Harbor. “My only agenda is to do a good job,” she said.

Schlick remarked that there had been a $2,000 fine brought against the township for failure to provide a timely response to a formal request under the NJ Open Public Records Act.

— Pat Johnson

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