Garage Sale Weekend

It’s garage sale weekend in Long Branch and surrounding towns. Check out the list.

258 Albert Place (off Norwood), Multi-Family, Sat. & Sun., 10-?

494 Atlantic Avenue, Long Branch

100 Brighton Ave. Arena Restaurant, Sat & Sun

421 Brighton Avenue  Sat. & Sun., 9:00am ~ 3:00pm

65 Cedar Ave.  multi-family yard sale, Sat. & Sun., 9 a.m.-5 p.m. Fundraiser for Home Free Animal Rescue.

8 Clarence Ave. 10 AM to 3 PM Sat. and Sun. weather permitting

279 Cleveland Ave., Sat. and Sun., starts 10 a.m.

105 Columbia Ave, North Long Branch, Sat, 8-1

351 Hollywood Ave – Multi-family yard sale – Sat & Sun, 9am-3pm

187 Kingsley St., Sat. & Sun.

187 Liberty St. Sun. 9-5

236 Liberty St., Sat.& Sunday, 10am-6pm

279 Long Branch Ave., Sat. & Sun., 9-?.

368 MacAuthor Ave. Sat & Sun 8-4

456 Ocean Ave. N., Sat. May 21, 8am-3pm

72 Oakhill Ave., Sat. & Sun., 8-4.

192 Overlook Ave. Sat. and Sun., 9-4

633 Overton Place, Sat. and Sun., 9-4. Moving sale.

762 Queens Ave (in parking lot), Sat. & Sun.

Family yard sale, off Rockwell (between Joline and Broadway), 10-6

464 Second Ave. Rear — Sat., May 21, 9-5

116 South 7th Ave., Sat. & Sun., 10-5.

50 Sternberger Ave, Unit 1 (off Cedar), Fri, Sat & Sun 9-?

48 West Hillsdale Ave., Sat.

476 West Street, N. Long Branch, Sat. & Sun., 9-3

205 Westwood Ave. – May 21 & 22, 9-1

491 West St., Sat. & Sun., 8-4

6 Elmwood Ave, West Long Branch, Sat & Sun, 9-4

The above houses called The Link News and asked to be included in the garage sale listings. The Link News runs all yard sale notices for FREE, any time of the year. Call 732-222-4300 or e-mail

Attorney: Abatements good for city’s bottom line

By Neil Schulman
Long Branch — The City Council voted 4-1 on Tuesday to approve a tax abatement for FEM South Beach Urban Renewal, which plans to construct 47 luxury condos in Beachfront South.
Despite the word “abatement,” Redevelopment Attorney Robert Beckelman said that Long Branch will receive more money this way than it would through traditional taxes.

This is the first major project for the Beachfront South area since the rules for redeveloping the district were changed several years ago, eliminating the use of eminent domain. As an incentive for being the first developer in such an area, abatements are common, Beckelman said. The developer has also agreed to make improvements to Ocean Boulevard, and is willing to give part of its property to the city if Long Branch decides to expend that section of Bath Avenue.

For condos, this PILOT, Payment In Lieu Of Taxes, will be based on the “carrying fees,” for the building, expected mortgage rates and association fees. For the first two years, the PILOT will be 10 percent of that, rising to 15% over the course of a decade.

Beckelman said that the city actually makes money on this, for two reasons. The first is that currently, the land is vacant, and the city is only collecting $25,000 a year in property taxes. The first year PILOT revenue is estimated at $425,000.

The other reason is because Long Branch gets to use 95 percent of this pilot for municipal tax purposes. (As noted in the related article, only 41 cents of every dollar from property taxes goes to the city.)

Beckelman said that the city expects to collect $5.5 million over the course of the pilot program. Their calculations show they would only get to keep $3.4 million if the condo paid property taxes traditionally.

Council President Kathleen Billings said she had asked for the presentation because people often assume a tax abatement means the city will get no taxes.

Council voted 4-1 to accept the program, with Councilman John Pallone voting against it. Billings said that she has reservations about the concept of abatements, but believed she had to support it anyway.

“When I became a council person, I was given a fiscal responsibility,” she said, and giving Long Branch an extra $2.1 million in revenue is part of that responsibility.
With this PILOT agreement now in place, work on FEM is expected to start later this year.

City introduces 2016 budget

By Neil Schulman
Long Branch — The average tax bill for a Long Branch resident will go up about $160 this year, including all municipal, school, county and other taxes in the bill. But because the assessed values of properties changed so much, the effect on each homeowner is hard to predict.

At the May 10 City Council meeting, officials introduced the 2016 Municipal Budget, calling fo $55.7 million in spending. Of that amount, $37.2 million will come from municipal taxes, with the rest coming from state and federal aid, grants, and other sources of revenue such as meters and fines. Last year’s $54.7 million budget collected $35.8 million through municipal taxes.

But that’s only the municipal portion of the money the city must collect through taxes. The Long Branch School system will need $38.5 million in taxes, the county $11.9 million, and money must also be collected for the library and the county’s open space fund. (About 42 percent of property taxes in the city go to the school system, and 41 percent to the municipality.)
That means the total taxes to be collected are $89.7 million, up from $86.4 million last year.

“The taxes on the average assessed home here is only increasing about $162.98, overall,” said CFO Michael Martin. It’s effectively a 2.9¢ increase per $100 of assessed value.
But how your home compares to the average may have changed from last year. In 2015, the average Long Branch residence was assessed at $364,000. This year, due to the new assessment program in Monmouth County, the average one is assessed at $413,000.

But not all assessments increased at the same rate. Homes in one neighborhood, for example, might have become more desirable, and started selling for much more, leading theirs to increase more.

A rule of thumb is that a third of properties wind up paying less in taxes after an assessment, and a third wind up paying more. Long Branch officials at the meeting said those proportions might not be exact in this case for homeowners, because it also depends on whether businesses are being assessed more or not.

The largest expense in the city’s budget is salaries, $24.4 million, making up a little more than two-fifths of the budget. Other expenses (such as equipment and supplies) make up $22.7 million, about two-fifths. The remaining budget goes to debt service ($5.6 million), a reserve for uncollected taxes ($2.0 million) capital expenses and deferred charges.

Oport hears proposal for fort property

By Neil Schulman
Oceanport — While the borough has little power to make it a reality, Oceanport officials like the proposed plan to create a continuing care retirement community, hotel and retail in part of the former Fort Monmouth.

Tim Lurie of DW Smith describes the plan and building designs envisioned for the 27+ acres.

At the May 5 Borough Council meeting, officials from New Century made an informal presentation showing their plans for the 28 acres of waterfront property.

FMERA, the Fort Monmouth Economic Revitalization Authority, has control over what is developed for the fort, and hasn’t even issued requests for proposals for this particular area. Oceanport has only one seat on the FMERA board, but officials from New Century said they wanted to make this presentation to gauge interest.

Jim Kahoe, project advisor, said the largest part of the proposal was 300-400 units, for a combination of independent living and assisted living. Because the program is set up for people getting on in years who may need assistance with their life, it would not bring any school children to Oceanport,

There would also be a 120-room hotel with a restaurant next to the facility. That’s to help out of town family members visit relatives, though the hotel will be open to anyone.

A boardwalk would be put up by the waterfront. The would also be a few retail stores in the area.

Kahoe said the project would create 150 temporary construction jobs for two years. The care facility will create 300 jobs, and the hotel an additional 70.

He also said that New Century is not looking for a PILOT, payment in lieu of taxes, which several projects at the Fort have sought. It will be financing the project in other ways.
Council members sounded pleased with the concept.

Councilwoman Patty Cooper, who said she had recently had to help her mother move into an assisted living facility, liked the payment system proposed, where residents pay a monthly rate, and 10-20 percent of the facility would use Medicare.

“That’s very important. Some of the places were having $500,000 bonds (required) to move in,” Cooper said.
Others said they appreciated the idea of a hotel, and the concept of making it easy to visit loved ones.

School rescinds assistant’s position after administrator resigns

By Walter J. O’Neill, Jr
Monmouth Beach – On Tuesday, May 17, the Board of Education voted to rescind the employment of Carly Trocchia as the shared assistant business administrator.
“The appointment was made here during the April board meeting. So she was to be a Monmouth Beach employee, but the salary was to be a shared expense,” said Michael Ettore, Superintendent of Schools for Monmouth Beach.

LINK News photo - Superintendent Michael Ettore (center) and members of the Board of Education discuss matters concerning the business administrator.

Trocchia had worked at Monmouth Beach for one week before things started to unfold. “It has nothing to do with her personally, she is a very nice young lady. But our board took a hard look at if this was something they needed at this time,” Ettore told The Link.

Requesting the hiring of Trocchia was Dennis W. Kotch, who at the time was the Business Administrator and School Board Secretary for Shore Regional High School.
Kotch resigned from his position last week.

Part of his duties was serving as the business administrator for Monmouth Beach Schools under a shared agreement with Shore Regional. Kotch was paid $25,000 from Monmouth Beach to act in that role. He was the business administrator for West Long Branch and Oceanport as well, also on a shared agreement contract.

During that April meeting in Monmouth Beach the request to hire Trocchia was not on the agenda, but Kotch asked the board to appoint her anyway. According to Ettore, the standard procedure is that all matters voted on are listed on the agenda.

“It’s important to know that we here in Monmouth Beach did not hire Dennis Kotch, he was an employee of Shore Regional, who we had a contract with to provide the business administrator service,” said  Ettore. He added that they still have that agreement in place until the end of June 2016.

Kotch told the Monmouth Beach board that the cost of the salary for Trocchia would not be the entire $69,000. “Kotch told us that other districts would supplement the salary,” said Ettore.

And that’s when things started to unfold.

According to sources who wish to remain nameless, Kotch had asked Thomas Farrell, Superintendent of Schools for Shore Regional, Oceanport and West Long Branch about hiring Trocchia, but Farrell rejected the idea.

Farrell refused to comment on the matter, saying it is personnel.

However, Farrell did say that he and the board at Shore Regional had accepted the resignation of Kotch.

An investigation is being conducted in regard to the hiring of Trocchia and other practices by Kotch.

“We have already started digging into our budget to verify that we don’t have any significant discrepancies of any kind and as of right now I have no reason to believe we do,” said Ettore. He also added that he and Farrell did have discussions after Trocchia was hired, but he is not willing to speak about the details.

Trocchia was a graduate of Shore Regional High School and just recently graduate Florida State University. She had worked for Kotch as an intern at Shore Regional during her junior year in college.

Farrell serves as superintendent in Oceanport, West Long Branch and Shore Regional. It appears that the Trocchia employment issue was never brought to those respective boards.

Greater Long Branch Chamber of Commerce welcomes spring

The Greater Long Branch Chamber of Commerce held a “Welcome to Spring” May networking event, Thursday at the Bungalow Hotel in Pier Village. It was a perfect night to welcome new members, sample cheese and wine, and even take a tour of their hotel rooms if you were so inclined. The event was organized byNancy Kleiberg, Executive Director and Lisa George.

Adopt a Pet for the Week of May 19-25

Here are some of the cats, dogs, and birds in our area looking for forever homes

Brookdale Graduates 2,041

LINCROFT, NJ (May 13, 2016) – More than 2,000 students graduated from Brookdale Community College on May 13 during the college’s 46th annual commencement ceremony on the Lincroft campus.

A total of 2,041 students from 18 different countries earned associate degrees from the college, with diplomas handed out during two ceremonies held in the Robert J. Collins Arena. The class of 2016 included 193 distinguished scholars and 34 students with a perfect 4.0 grade point average.

“Graduates, congratulations on a successful academic journey,” said Brookdale President Dr. Maureen Murphy. “We have many distinguished guests who are here to honor you today… I cannot tell you how much we value your hard work and all of your achievements as Brookdale students.”

A total of 1,094 students earned associate in arts degrees; 492 earned associate in applied science degrees; 417 earned associate in science degrees; six earned associate in fine arts degrees; and 31 earned academic credit certificates.

Honorary degrees were also awarded to commencement speakers Norma Hardy and Bernard Weinstein.

Hardy, of Neptune, serves as assistant police chief with the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey Police Department (PAPD), where she is the highest-ranking female officer in department history. In her first assignment with the PAPD in 1993, Hardy was awarded a medal for valor for her heroic rescue efforts following the Feb. 26 terror attack on the World Trade Center.

Today she also serves as chief of New Jersey aviation with the PAPD, where she oversees Newark International and Teterboro airports. She has received numerous awards in her career, including Officer of the Year from the International Association of Women Police.

“All things are possible if you work hard and believe in yourself. You can make anything happen,” Hardy told the graduates. “Be brave but not reckless, be proud yet humble, and as you walk your path, reach out your hand and bring someone along with you. Be a beacon in your community and an inspiration to your family.”

Weinstein, of Freehold, is a semi-retired attorney and a veteran of World War II. He has been practicing law in Monmouth County since 1964 while working as a vocal advocate for fellow veterans as a member of multiple veterans organizations.

He is a current member of the Brookdale Student Veterans Club and an ardent supporter of lifelong education, taking 68 courses at the college over the last 27 years.

College officials also presented Distinguished Alumni awards to Brookdale Emily Chapman and Selma Morris.

Chapman, an Ocean Township native and alumna of the Culinary Education Center in Asbury Park, won $50,000 and defeated celebrity chef Robert Irvine on the Food Network program “Chopped: Impossible” in 2015. Currently working as a sous chef in New York City, Chapman is undefeated in three separate appearances on the program.

Chapman discussed her own college experience, in which she enrolled in a four-year university with a full academic scholarship but later withdrew due to a significant personal hardship. In the end, however, Chapman said her challenges ultimately led her to the career of her dreams and a life she never imagined.

“Life gives you struggles sometimes,” Chapman said. “But enrolling in the Culinary Education Center was the best opportunity I could have been given… For those of you who have struggled, and for those of you who will, embrace it as an opportunity to conquer a challenge and better yourself. The future is as bright as you make it. And as I can tell you, nothing is impossible.”

Morris, a Long Branch native, is a former senior investigator for the Monmouth County Correctional Institution and currently serves as executive assistant to the Monmouth County sheriff.

She has served as a member of multiple community groups and advocacy organizations, including the National Association of Negro and Professional Women’s Club and the Monmouth County Cotillion Committee. A U.S. Army veteran, Morris has also helped coordinate law enforcement career fairs at Brookdale and received a Community Service Award from the NAACP of Greater Long Branch.

Seven graduates were also recognized for their outstanding academic achievements: Nekesha Adams; Alexander Karn; Melanie Katz; Anthony Pompili; Rebecca Stattner; Julianna Masco; and Jeffrey Villapiano.

Monmouth County Mobile Connection coming to city

Long Branch — Monmouth County Clerk Christine Hanlon, Surrogate Rosemarie Peters and Sheriff Shaun Golden are teaming up to deliver county services and programs directly into the community. The “Mobile County Connection” will be coming to the City of Long Branch on Monday, May 23. The event will take place at the Long Branch Free Public Library, 328 Broadway, from 11 a.m.-2 p.m.

“We are proud to be unveiling such an important outreach program,” said Hanlon. “It is the first of its kind in Monmouth County and features mobile government services in an effort to connect people with government in their communities.”

The Mobile County Connection is housed in a large mobile command center and was rolled out for the first time last summer. The vehicle is stocked with a wide selection of printed information about the programs and services available to them in county government. Staff will be on site to assist the public.

Sheriff Shaun Golden states that “the Mobile County Connection enhances our continuing efforts to serve the public’s needs in a timely and convenient fashion.” Rosemarie Peters, Monmouth County Surrogate, says “ Having access to county government services on wheels allows us to better serve the public and we look forward to meeting the residents who will utilize these services.”

From the County Clerk’s Office, election and voter information will be available, and assistance will be provided for those wishing to apply for or renew a passport, take passport photos or obtain a veterans’ or County ID.

The Sheriff’s Office will offer Youth and Ident-Adult identification cards and instruction on the proper installation of child safety seats and safe cargo guidelines.

The Monmouth County’s Surrogate’s Office will provide information on probate and wills, and guardianship and adoption services.

Passport services require that specific identification be provided. Free notary services will be available during the event and during regular library business hours. Please call the library for more information.

Shore Business Administrator resigns

By Walter J. O’Neill, Jr
West Long Branch — Thomas Farrell, Superintendent of Shore Regional High School, West Long Branch and Oceanport Public Schools, says Business Administrator Dennis W. Kotch has tendered his resignation. That announcement was made on Friday, May 13, at 2:00 p.m.

“This is a confidential personnel matter. Accordingly, I can make no further statement at this time,” Farrell said.

Kotch, a CPA, was hired in September 2007 as the School Business Administrator and School Board Secretary for the high school. According to his bio, he was the assistant BA for the Hazlet Township School Board before his employment with Shore.

Since then, Kotch was also hired as the BA for Oceanport, Monmouth Beach and the West Long Branch Public Schools under a shared service agreement.

On May 13, at 10:00 a.m. an employee of the central office at Shore Regional stated that the business administrator is on administrative leave and Susan O’Halloran has taken over his responsibilities. O’Halloran was unavailable for comments when called.

Michael Ettore is the Superintendent for the Monmouth Beach School District. “We were informed last week that Dennis Kotch would no longer be the business administrator,” said Ettore. He said Monmouth Beach has a shared agreement with Shore Regional for a number of different services. “Shore Regional has stated that they will continue to provide us with our contracted services including the business office.”

Lexi Tucci, attorney for Shore Regional High School Board of Education, was also contacted as was the New Jersey Attorney General’s Office, to no avail.

Oceanport Mayor Jay Coffey, who held the position of Board of Education President for the Oceanport Schools last year, said that the borough was not involved in this particular incident. “Last year during our negotiations with the teachers every line item was examined and Dennis had to verify every dollar,” said Coffey.

As a school business administrator or the chief financial officer of a district, Kotch was responsible for budget planning, financial accounting and reporting, insurance, purchasing, payroll, health benefits, investments, facilities, construction, maintenance, personnel administration, transportation, food service, technology and security.

Following is a list of the next BOE meetings for districts that Kotch acted as the BA:

Dennis W. Kotch, former business administrator for Shore Regional, West Long Branch, Oceanport and Monmouth Beach School Districts.

Monmouth Beach will hold its meeting on Tuesday, May 17, at 7:30 p.m.
West Long Branch will hold its monthly meeting on May 24, at 7:00 p.m.
Oceanport will hold its monthly meeting on May 25, at 7:00 p.m.
Shore Regional will hold its monthly meeting on Thursday, May 26, at 7:00 p.m.