By Thomas A. Arnone
Just in time for summer, Monmouth County is rethinking how it goes about enticing visitors to the county’s unique vacation destinations.
Ads on radio and daily newspapers outside our county are a must. But in addition to the traditional means of advertising, the Monmouth County Department of Public Information and Tourism is using of social media to connect with potential visitors.
By Memorial Day, county Tourism representatives armed with smartphones will be using Facebook, Twitter, Flickr and Pinterest to drive information about the county’s wonderful destinations and generate feedback from people about where they have been and what they liked.
This summer we will have a mobile Web page for tourism to help visitors learn about Monmouth County using their mobile phones.
Whether it’s a two-week stay, a getaway weekend or just a day trip, visitors will be able to get the information they need.
And, if your visitors arrive by train, they will have access to the Shore EZ Ride Shuttle that will take them to the beaches and downtown shopping centers and restaurants in Bradley Beach, Ocean Grove, Asbury Park and new this year, Long Branch. Residents can use it, too.
Look for the Shore EZ Ride shuttle service to begin on May 25. Cost is $1 per ride.
In other news, the Monmouth County Office of Shared Services has announced additional partnerships with several Monmouth County municipalities to perform municipal dispatch services. This will directly result in tremendous savings at the local level while increasing revenues to the county to help offset the cost. These partnerships help keep taxes low.
The recent additions to the dispatch program include Spring Lake, Deal, Avon by the Sea, Neptune City and Neptune Township. Spring Lake, for example, expects to save about $200,000 a year through this shared services arrangement. The revenue from all four towns will deliver more than $650,000 in new recurring revenues to county government. That is in addition to over $2.1 million in recurring annual revenues reported for 2011 from dispatch-shared services.
Shared services continue to deliver the revenues required to offset reductions in county ratables. This allows the county and the municipalities to hold the line on taxes. Due to the continued success of the program we are able to provide the county with an annual recurring revenue stream that will continue to grow with the expansion of shared services activity. Shared services are truly a win-win situation that directly benefits the county, the municipality, and most importantly, the taxpayers of Monmouth County.
The county was able to expand its capabilities to provide dispatch services through the new Shore Area Communications Center (SAAC) in Neptune. With the support of the Monmouth County Board of Chosen Freeholders and Monmouth County Sheriff Shaun Golden, the county was able to open the SACC, which allows the county to take on more municipalities immediately and results in more immediate savings to the local taxpayer.
Other shared services save money, too. The county Department of Public Works and Engineering will provide street sweeping and catch basin cleaning services in Roosevelt, and the county’s Fleet Services Division will soon be performing vehicle repairs and preventative maintenance, along with towing services, for the Belmar Police Department.
Finally, the county’s Workforce Investment Board (WIB) has placed four people with local businesses using the On the Job training portion of the State Energy Sector Partnership and Training grant. This grant, from the U.S. Department of Labor, provides $190 million to state Workforce Investment Boards in all 50 states and targets energy efficiency and renewable energy industries.
Thomas A. Arnone is deputy director of the Monmouth County Board of Chosen Freeholders.