West Long Branch Council, fireworks, taxes, fishing derby

By Walter J. O’Neill, Jr

West Long Branch – Borough resident Mark Engel asked the mayor and council during the virtual meeting on Tuesday night if the fireworks were still scheduled for  July 4th. Mayor Janet Tucci stated that at this time they have not canceled the show as they have a contract with a provider. She added that they will be having heavy discussions soon and will advise when a final decision is reached.

Governor Murphy had signed an executive order allowing municipalities the option to extend the grace period for second quarter tax payments from May 1,  to June 1, 2020. West Long Branch however, after careful consideration decided not to offer that relief to residents. Tucci stated that as of the meeting 90 percent of second quarter taxes were collected.

Councilman Stephen Bray reported that Monmouth County advised the borough that there is $183 million in stimulus money that will be provided to local municipalities to assist them with COVID-19 expenses. The money is part of the $2 trillion the U.S. Government has provided in the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act. Bray said that the borough should move quickly to secure the funding because the money will disappear quickly as other communities will be applying for assistance.

For the fire and emergency services report, Councilman Steven Cioffi, reported that May 17-23 was National Emergency Medical Week, and he wanted to thank all the volunteers, past and present, who have provided first aid to the residents since 1931.

With a rash of car burglaries in West Long Branch and surrounding towns, Councilman Chris Neyhart strongly suggested that residents keep their cars locked. He also stated that the fishing derby will be postponed until October 17. The derby is part of a program called “Hooked on Fishing-Not on Drugs” run by the New Jersey Division of Fish and Wildlife.

It was also reported that trees that in need of removal have been taken down around borough hall and that the COVID glass protection is currently being installed in the borough offices. They are also getting a quote to install protection in the library. “We are part of the Monmouth County Library system, but the borough is responsible for the building,” Tucci said.  No date has been announced to the opening of the library.

Ordinance Number 0-20-7 to exceed the municipal budget appropriation limits and to establish a CAP bank was passed unanimously. Ordinance Number 0-20-8, a house clean proposal to tighten up the positions and duties of the borough administrator and borough clerk, was also passed without objection.

Vincent LaPore called in and asked the mayor and council if they are taking any action or have any plans on how to handle the residents of Deal, which according to him has the sixth highest amount of COVID-19 cases per-capita in the state. Cioffi started off answering the question saying they are not picking anyone out and many of those residents own their homes. “Every town is effected and more test mean more positive results,” said Cioffi.

Tucci stated that on Tuesday the borough had 59 positive cases and as of Wednesday that number increased to 61. “Our residents are vigilant, they wear masks and social distance,” said Tucci.

Stephanie Dollinger, Borough Administrator, told LaPore that West Long Branch receives guidance on how to handle the infection from the county, health departments and the state. There is no individual plan or protocol on dealing with neighboring communities.

Anthony Fontana then asked the governing body if they could look into the purchase of additional LED stop signs. Tucci stated that in Ocean they have one at Larchwood and Park Avenue and she thinks it a great idea, and they will explore it.