Council sets special session to discuss sharing services

Borough may pursue agreements with Rumson to cut costs

Staff Writer


Staff Writer

The time has come for Sea Bright to consider consolidating some of its services with neighboring towns, Councilman William J. "Jack" Keeler suggested.

Keeler, who’s heading up long-range planning for the Borough Council, cited the police department as a possible target for consolidation.

While stressing that "I’m not advocating one position or another," he noted at the council’s Nov. 18 meeting that Sea Bright, with 1,800 residents, has an 11-man police department, while Rumson, with 7,200 residents, has a 17-man police force.

Sea Bright is paying more, on a per-capita basis, for its department, he pointed out. Based on the staffing in Rumson, he continued, Sea Bright should have only four, five or six police officers.

"Of course, we can’t operate a police department around the clock with four, five or six officers," he said.

Keeler urged that the council set aside part of a regular meeting to call a special workshop to consider its long-range objectives before budget time.

Mayor Gregory W. Harquail and the other council members quickly agreed this would be best and asked Deputy Borough Clerk Allyson Cinquegrana to consult with everyone to find a satisfactory date.

It was finally decided to hold the workshop Dec. 10 at 6 p.m. in the council chambers.

Keeler, who’s been trying to draft a request for proposals (RFP) so a professional can plan for the best use of municipally-owned properties, said if the council could agree that the beachfront and adjacent Peninsula House parking lot would be for recreation, writing the RFP would be easy.

"But if we go out with one that is more or less open," he cautioned, "I think we are going to have problems… with ideas all over the place."

"If it’s open, what comes back may be vague," he said.

Keeler said one of the questions the council has to resolve is whether Sea Bright is going to remain a fully inde­pendent municipality, with its own po­lice department and court, without merged services.

"We are at the point where we have to make a sizable investment in our facilities," he said, noting the munici­pal court is housed in a trailer behind borough hall, which is overcrowded, and the police need more space.

"Everything has a price tag," he said. "We have to ask if we want to keep everything in-house."

Councilman William Gelfound, addressing the issue of police, said the number on the force in Sea Bright isn’t based just on population but on many restaurants and other businesses.

But at the same time, what the bor­ough is being charged for garages at 15 South St., owned by Jesse A. Howland & Sons, Inc., Kingston, because public works vehicles should be part of the discussion on needed facilities.

The council voted 4-0 with one ab­stention to approve an agreement with Howland that calls for the payment of $15,186 per year — $1,265.50 a month —to rent the space.

The abstention, by Councilman Andrew Mencinsky, complained it was a lot of money, and he didn’t feel strongly enough to vote for it. He didn’t vote against it because there was no other choice.

Harquail said later he thought it was a fair price and noted the owner was replacing the roof which he esti­mated at $20,000.

Mencinsky said interest rates on borrowing are at a historic low right now.

In other action, the council autho­rized the purchase of a Kenwood police base station off the state contract from A. R. Communications, 91 Main St., Eatontown, for $20,291.90, including a microphone and installation.

Councilwoman Maria Fernandes reported the borough will receive $150,000 in state transportation funds for the 2004 fiscal year to make im­provements to New, Surf, Beach and Front streets. She thanked Borough Engineer Dave Hoder for his help in writing the successful grant applica­tion.

Councilwoman Dina Long reported that police had a high volume of calls in the month of October 2003 — twice as many as October 2002.