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Monday, July 15, 2024

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Shared Services Opportunities Explained to Board; Vehicle Purchase for COVID-19 Testing OK’d

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By Al Campbell

CREST HAVEN – Two “co-czars,” appointed in 2018 by Gov. Phil Murphy to extol benefits of shared services to local and county governments, spoke about the subject to Cape May County freeholders Nov. 10 at the caucus meeting.  

Part of their message was to alert officials of the 2021 funding cycle for the state’s shared services effort at the grassroots level. Areas that might benefit from such shared services include school districts, municipal courts, and heavy vehicle maintenance. 

Both are former mayors who receive $1 annually for their services. Jordan Platt, a Democrat of Summit, and Nicolas Platt, a Republican, of Harding Township, were joined by Eileen Brennen with the state Department of Community Affairs, Local Government Services. 

They detailed several grant programs that could aid municipalities seeking to link services, thus saving tax dollars.  

In Cape May County, there are 19 school districts (two are county-run), as well as 16 municipalities.  

Freeholder Director Gerald Thornton cited the county’s central dispatch, currently serving several municipalities with public safety dispatching and the vocational-technical and Special Services school districts that are examples of shared services on a county level.  

Brennen cited Dennis Township municipal government and the local school district that received $50,000 to share capital equipment and North Wildwood that got an award to perform a shore community regional emergency medical services study. 

Brennen cited an ongoing consolidation study in Salem County that has 12 school districts with 11 superintendents. If all were to merge into a single district, the saving in salaries is estimated at $1.5 million annually.  

Such issues of school districts merging touch upon the concept of home rule and have been studied for many years by the citizens’ group Cape Issues, as published here in the past. The decision starts at the local level when taxpayers urge their elected officials to pursue savings. 

COVID-19 Testing Vehicle OK’d 

The county Health Department was authorized to buy a “recreational vehicle,” not to exceed $95,000, that would be used as a mobile COVID-19 testing site for “vulnerable populations,” including the homeless, low-income, elderly, and those unable to travel. 

The purchase will use grant funds from the CARES Act. The enabling resolution notes the vehicle can be used to deliver vaccines to the above populations when one becomes available. 

Accord on Airport Tenants’ Rent Reached 

An agreement was approved by freeholders that will settle an ongoing matter of rent paid by tenants at the Cape May County Airport in Erma.  

Through the Memorandum of Agreement, Lower Township will receive real estate tax from third-party tenants of the Delaware River and Bay Authority, which operates the airport and industrial park. 

Under-Bridge Parking Prohibited 

Freeholders passed another resolution that prohibits the parking of vehicles or storing of equipment and/or material under the footprint of county bridges unless permission is granted in writing. 

More for Woodbine Roundabout 

An extra $135,088 was approved to South State Inc., for the Woodbine-Ocean View Road (CR 550) and Dennisville-Petersburg Road (CR 610) roundabout.  

The funds pay for 300 feet of paving in each direction, installation of water service to the interior of the circle, and substitution of Endura blend decorative epoxy paver treatment in place of stamped concrete, and installation of thermoplastic rumble strips for traffic calming.  

In other matters,the board: 

  • Paid $67,110 to WSP USA for “out of scope” revision of railing replacement engineering work on Middle Thorofare Bridge.  

  • Approved $26,644 to Greenman-Pedersen Inc. for engineering services in connection with Middle Thorofare Bridge fender replacement. 

  • Approved payment of $108,928 for 41 security cameras at County Commons (site of the former Kmart in Rio Grande) from ADT Commercial. 

  • Approved a contract extension to Dec. 31, 2020, with Michael Donohue, retired Superior Court judge, who has been acting county administrator since May 19. A non-fair and open professional services agreement was also approved with the law firm Blaney, Karavan, and Weinberg where he practices. A new administrator is expected to be named next year. 

  • Accepted grant of $27,014 from the state Department of State Historical Commission to aid history organizations. 

  • Accepted a $65,946 state grant for arts and cultural projects. 

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