Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Little to become Freeholder Director at Jan 4 reorg meeting

A press release from the Ocean County Freeholders:
Freeholders to Organize Jan. 4

TOMS RIVER - With just days to go before Ocean County ushers in the New Year, Ocean County Freeholder Gerry P. Little is preparing to become Director of the Ocean County Board of Chosen Freeholders for 2012.

"I am looking forward to being Director of the Board in 2012," said Little, who served as the 2011 Deputy Director. "I am sure it will be a challenging new year but as a Board we work in concert always putting the citizens of the County first."

Little is expected to be appointed to the post during the Board's 2012 organization meeting scheduled for 3:30 p.m., Jan. 4 in Room 119 of the Ocean County Administration Building, here. Freeholder John C. Bartlett Jr. is expected to be named Deputy Director during the meeting.

"Our main concern for 2012 will be developing a county budget that continues to allow our residents the ability to afford to live here," Little said. "We want to continue to deliver core and vital services but it must be cost effective.

"Every year, this freeholder board pledges there will be no surprises in the County budget and the new year will be no different," Little said.

Freeholder Little said that with the sound fiscal policies the Board has in place, the county will enter 2012 with a AAA bond rating – the highest possible.

"With the diligence of Freeholder John Bartlett, who serves as liaison to the county's Department of Finance, we have been able to maintain this bond rating while we have seen state and federal ratings begin to drop," Little said. "This rating helps us secure the best interest rates possible so we can save money for the taxpayer and can advance important projects that affect the quality of life here in Ocean County."

Little, who has been on the Board of Freeholders since 2003 works closely with key county government departments that provide a host of programs ranging from services for veterans, to the Ocean County Planning Department.

"In the New Year, the Ocean County Veterans Service Bureau will expand into the southern part of the county providing services from the Ocean County Southern Service Center in Manahawkin," Little said. "Our veterans deserve the best services possible and access to our programs is key to providing them with the assistance they deserve."

Little noted that the Board of Freeholders also recently renewed its contract with Vetwork, a Lacey Township-based nonprofit group that assists local veterans.

"For 25 years Vetwork has been there for veterans in need," Little said. "We are very pleased to continue this collaboration on behalf of Ocean County's 68,000 veterans."

Freeholder Little said that as liaison to the Ocean County Board of Social Services, the Ocean County Department of Human Services, and the Ocean County Board of Health, he will continue to make every effort to help the most vulnerable and needy in Ocean County.

"These are difficult economic times and we certainly are understanding of that," Little said. "These agencies and their dedicated staffs make every effort to provide for those citizens who are in need."

Little added he will work closely with his colleagues on the Board of Freeholders to make certain environmental issues and concerns continue to be addressed.

"Our Engineering Department, under the direction of Freeholder John Kelly along with our Planning Department are continuing their work in preserving and protecting Barnegat Bay," Little said. "We are closely working with the state to implement Gov. Christie's 10 point plan to protect the bay, which truly is an environmental jewel enjoyed by all citizens of New Jersey."

Little noted that Ocean County's open space program, administered by the Planning Department will continue into the New Year preserving environmentally sensitive lands which also helps to protect the waterways and overall environment in Ocean County.

The county, since establishing the Ocean County Natural Lands Trust Fund in 1997, has helped save 12,642 acres of environmentally sensitive lands. And, almost 3,300 acres of farmland has been preserved in Ocean County, Little said.

"Of the 408,000 acres of land in Ocean County, more than 60 percent, including lands preserved by municipalities, is protected as open space," Little said. "The total number of acres preserved in Ocean County so far is 222,691. This land will forever remain open space."

Freeholder Little noted that the county will continue to provide environmental benefits through its award winning recycling program under the leadership of Freeholder James F. Lacey.

"Freeholder Lacey with the Department of Solid Waste has worked tirelessly to make certain this is the most convenient recycling program possible for our residents," Little said. "It certainly has paid off not only with benefits to the environment but economically through the recycling revenue sharing program."

Freeholder Little said he looks forward to working closely with Freeholder Joseph Vicari, who served as the 2011 Director, in providing services and programs for Ocean County's seniors.

"With more than 160,000 seniors calling Ocean County home, we have pledged to make certain that home delivered meals will continue, nutrition sites will remain open and our services will continue to provide our seniors with a quality of life second to none," Little said.

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