27 Aug

Ocean County Press Release: $5 million on the recent refunding of bonds totaling about $77.4 million

TOMS RIVER – A stable financial outlook and a reaffirmation of the highest credit rating possible is helping Ocean County save almost $5 million.

“With our bond rating reaffirmed at AAA, and because of conservative financial planning by this Board of Freeholders we will save about $5 million on the recent refunding of bonds totaling about $77.4 million,” said Freeholder Director John C. Bartlett Jr., who serves as liaison to the county’s Finance Department. “The ongoing efforts of this Board of Freeholders to budget conservatively while providing the funds for our core services has resulted in us maintaining this credit rating resulting in this savings.”

Ocean County first received a AAA bond rating in 2010 with the rating agencies increasing it to a AAA with a stable outlook last year.

“That’s the best rating you can get,” Bartlett said. “This is our financial report card. We have a solid financial plan in this County, we follow it and this bond rating validates it.”

Ocean County recently refunded or refinanced $77,460,000 in bonds in order to reduce the interest rate and payment by the County.

“By selling these bonds on the market floor, we saw a percentage of savings of 5.1 percent on interest costs,” Bartlett said. “That yields a $4.7 million savings.”
Bartlett noted that refunding bonds is similar to an individual refinancing a mortgage.

“You refinance at a lower rate to save money,” Bartlett said. “That is what we do at the County but it’s on money we have borrowed for large, capital projects.”

Included in the $77.4 million was funding for upgrades to the county radio communications system, construction of the Ocean County Vocational Technical Schools Marine Academy of Technology and Environmental Science, reconstruction of Brick Boulevard, the new terminal at the Ocean County Airport, Jakes Branch County Park, Beachwood and a host of engineering projects throughout the County.

“These bonds were issued in 2005, 2006, 2007 and 2008,” Bartlett said. “The refunding does not extend the life of the bonds.

“These projects are the bricks and mortar projects, they will be used for a very long time,” Bartlett said.

Bond rating houses Moody’s Investors Service and Fitch Ratings have both given Ocean County a AAA bond rating. Bond ratings range from Baa, the lowest, to AAA, the highest possible.

In 2014 Ocean County’s bond rating reached the highest rating possible – AAA stable outlook – with the revision from a negative outlook in 2013 by Moody’s Investor Services.


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07 Oct

Press Release: Sheriff Mastronardy Now Among the Ranks of NSI Graduates

OCEAN COUNTY Sheriff Michael G. Mastronardy recently completed his participation in the 106th session of the National Sheriff’s Institute held in Aurora, Colorado.

“This was a great opportunity to network with other sheriffs from across the country,” said Mastronardy, who was sworn in as Ocean County Sheriff in January. “You learn a lot from other people who are facing similar challenges.

“Everyone brings something to the table,” he said. “Everyone has experiences to share.”

Mastronardy joined with 25 other sheriffs from across the country exploring the role of the local sheriff in providing effective leadership for the public good in such areas as public safety, criminal justice system policy, community relations, and organization effectiveness and efficiency.

“Sheriff Mastronardy has taken a proactive approach in heading up the Ocean County Sheriff’s Department,” said Ocean County Freeholder John P. Kelly, Director of Law and Public Safety. “He shows great leadership skills and he is empowering the officers and staff to do the best possible job for Ocean County’s residents.”

The National Sheriff’s Institute is a no cost program co-sponsored by the National Institute of Corrections and the National Sheriff’s Association.

“Sheriff Mastronardy is a leader with vision for the Ocean County Sheriff’s Office,” said Fred G. Wilson, NSA Director of Operations. “It is an honor to have Sheriff Mastronardy join the more than 2,500 graduates of the NSI since 1973.”

The NSA is a non-profit professional association located in Alexandria, Va. It represents nearly 3,100 elected sheriffs across the nation and has more than 20,000 members including law enforcement professionals, state and federal government employees, concerned citizens and students. 

Since 1940 the NSA has served as an information clearinghouse for law enforcement professionals.

“Information is one of the most powerful tools we have in order to do the best job possible,” said Ocean County Freeholder Director Joseph H. Vicari. “Our Sheriff is in charge of public safety, from the courts to emergency management and a host of other areas. Staying up to date by participating in programs like the National Sheriff’s Institute will provide benefits to all our residents.”

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07 Oct

Press Release: County Constructs First New Runway in State in 30 Years

BERKELEY TOWNSHIP – Ocean County officials today joined with representatives from the FAA, the state and local organizations in marking the completion of the Crosswind Runway at the Ocean County Airport, here.

“This is the first runway constructed in New Jersey since 1983,” said Ocean County Freeholder Director Joseph H. Vicari, who serves as liaison to the airport. “This runway provides a safer landing alternative for smaller aircraft during adverse wind and weather conditions.

“It is a project that we have worked on for many years and I am happy to be here today to highlight its completion and to extend my appreciation to the great partnerships that came together to make this happen,” Vicari said.

A Crosswind Runway had been planned at the airpark since it opened in 1968. With the help of substantial Federal Aviation Administration grants, and funding from the state, the County was able to construct the new runway providing for a safer airport. 

“The safety of the pilots using the airpark is of the utmost importance to the County,” Vicari said. “The airpark is used for more than just private planes. It serves an important role when it comes to public safety, and housing aircraft that are used by public safety agencies.”

While the Crosswind runway is about 3,400 feet, far shorter than the existing 6,000-foot runway, it was not an easy project to do and Ocean County faced many obstacles. 

“Ocean County Airport is located in the Pinelands Preservation Area, which has some of the strictest environmental standards anywhere,” Vicari noted. “After seven years, we worked out an agreement with the New Jersey Pinelands Commission that allowed us to move forward.”

While the regulatory process was challenging, Ocean County recognized the need to protect this unique area of New Jersey and incorporated many environmental features into the project.

“We kept our commitment to the Pinelands Commission and we believe that the environmental measures we have put into place will permanently enhance the habitat of the surrounding area,” Vicari said.

The Harrisburg Office of the Federal Aviation Administration worked with the County during the ups and downs of the regulatory process and when the Pinelands agreement was executed, the FAA immediately secured the funding necessary to start construction.

“That was a feat unto itself due to the declining federal budget,” Vicari said.

Of the $8.2 million dollar price tag, the FAA secured 90 percent of the funding for it. The New Jersey Department of Transportation was able to offset some of the local match that Ocean County was required to provide.

“We also cannot forget the assistance provided to us by the New York FAA when we started this whole process,” Vicari said. “We appreciate the help they gave us in moving through the environmental assessment process and not giving up on us.

“A big thank you also goes to our consultants and sub-consultants who worked on this project to ensure it would be approved and funding would be received,” Vicari said. “And, to our pilots, thank you for your patience. I know the wait was frustrating and there were doubts from time to time that this project would ever come to reality. But we got here and we are very proud to have worked with you.” 

Vicari noted the airport plays an important role in public safety and the new runway will help enhance that.

As an example, Vicari noted that several years ago, the New Jersey Forest Fire Service pulled out of the airport, due to the lack of a crosswind runway.

“Once the runway was nearing completion, we contacted the Fire Service and quickly negotiated their return to the airport,” Vicari said.

“Some of you may remember that a few months ago a major forest fire broke out that threatened several neighborhoods just a few miles from here. The fire grew quickly due to strong winds and the Fire Service responded immediately,” Vicari said. “Personnel from the Fire Service attended a Freeholder meeting afterwards and credited the use of the crosswind runway with helping the fire service in its efforts to save many homes from destruction.”

In addition to the new runway, in recent years, county, state and federal funds have helped pay to widen the existing runway, extend the taxiway, install a stormwater control system, construct new hangars, install a new system of signs and lights and rehabilitate the taxiways and apron.

“This airpark is an important element of the county’s transportation program,” Vicari said. “It’s essential the facilities be kept current and at up-to-date standards.”

The airpark is located on 420 acres in Berkeley Township about five miles west of Toms River. A precision approach facility, it features a 6,000 foot runway and accommodates various aircraft, including private airplanes, small corporate jets, the state Forest Fire Service planes, the Civil Air Patrol and Emergency Services aircraft.



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19 Jun

Ocean County receives $34M in aid for Sandy victims

Halfway through the year, Ocean County’s budget will surpass $400 million, with millions of dollars added to help superstorm Sandy victims.

The county Board of Freeholders on Wednesday introduced an amendment that would increase the proposed 2014 budget an additional $35.6 million, bringing it to $435.6 million, the result of last-minute revenue from the state and federal governments, most of which is earmarked for victims of superstorm Sandy.

The spending plan, first introduced in March, finally is expected to be adopted Wednesday.

County Comptroller Julie N. Tarrant said $33.8 million represents federal disaster aid to county residents in the form of the Sandy Homeowner/Renter Assistance Program, also known as SHRAP.

Financial assistance is available to help individuals and families with expenses for housing, current or past due utility payments and for the replacement of essential items such as furniture and appliances. To be eli­gible, the expense must be a direct result of the disaster, according to the state Department of Human Services.

The program is limited to six months of assistance per household. In order to be eligible for the program, an individual or family must have financial distress directly related to housing, which is a direct result of the Oct. 29, 2012, disaster. They also must be a U.S. citizen or legal resident; currently not receiving Work First New Jersey benefits or eligible for Supplemental Security Income emergency assistance and a blood relative of an affected household, all according to the state department.

The remaining $1.8 million in the budget amendment is earmarked for the Ocean County Sheriff’s Department and constitutes revenue generated by the state Superior Court in Toms River owed that law enforcement agency, Tarrant said.

The five-member, all-Republican freeholder board will meet in a special public session at 3:15 p.m. Wednesday to adopt the amendment and the budget in the first floor meeting room of the Ocean County Administration Building at 101 Hooper Ave. in Toms River.

“This amendment today has no effect on the county tax rate or what we raise in taxation or on future county budgets,” said Freeholder John C. Bartlett Jr., who is director of finance on the board.

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17 Jun

Ocean County GOP’s new webpage

Welcome to the Ocean County GOP’s new webpage.

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