By Monmouth County Freeholder Director Tom Arnone
Spring is finally here! It’s great to see the trees and flowers begin to bloom and show signs that warmer weather is on its way. I hope everyone has been able to enjoy time outside and hopefully visit some Grown in Monmouth properties!
I’d like to thank everyone who participated in Earth Day events throughout the County, including beach sweeps and property cleanups. I had the chance to visit with volunteers who were cleaning up the area surrounding Shark River.
On another environmental note, I joined several other elected officials last week in supporting bipartisan legislation that bans offshore drilling along the coast of New Jersey. Freeholder Pat Impreveduto and I joined Ocean County Freeholder Joseph Vicari, Congressman Chris Smith and Congressman Frank Joseph Pallone, among others, during Governor Murphy’s bill signing on this matter in Point Pleasant Beach on April 20th.
My fellow Freeholders and I already voiced our own opinion against offshore drilling in our own resolution a few months ago. This law is crucial, as Monmouth County accounts for 27 miles of the 127-mile New Jersey coastal shoreline. I’m glad a law is now in place to prevent such infrastructure off our coast.
While I agreed with this piece of legislation out of Trenton, I do have some concerns with another bill that our lawmakers have been considering during the last few weeks.
There is currently a proposal that would require counties to rename the “Board of Chosen Freeholders” to “Board of County Commissioners.” This legislation would also require counties to update materials to reflect this title change.
As I have already publicly stated, I can tell you that no matter what our title is, my colleagues and I will continue to focus our efforts on cutting costs and maintaining a high quality of life for our residents. However, if this legislation is signed into law, it would only amount to one more unfunded mandate out of Trenton that would place undue financial burden on counties. The sole reason I am not in favor of this legislation is the fact that counties would be forced to incur the costs of changing the official name on literature and signage.
Again, as I have stated in the recent weeks, it is my hope that our state representatives refocus their efforts and energy on finding ways to reduce the cost of living in one of the most heavily taxed states in the nation.
On a lighter note, I am proud to be a board member for the Ashley Lauren Foundation. For those unfamiliar with this foundation, its mission is to assist children with cancer. I attended the foundation’s annual gala last week and I was so happy to see such a great turnout for such a worthy cause. I’d like to thank Monica Vermeulen, the foundation’s founder, and the rest of the board for their tireless efforts around the year.
Lastly, I am happy to report we had another successful Made in Monmouth event this year. Hundreds of local small businesses were able to sell their products to the thousands of attendees who made their way through the OceanFirst Bank Center at Monmouth University earlier this month. I am proud to have helped launch this initiative that supports small businesses when I joined the Freeholder board and I am happy to see it grow every year. I must thank all of the staff and county personnel who helped coordinate this event.
As always, it’s a pleasure to serve as Freeholder Director.