Ocean County Press Release

WHILE THE COUNTY deals with the Coronavirus crisis, the Ocean County Board of Chosen Freeholders is continuing to put plans in place that will maintain essential services and protect both the public and government staff.

Included in the plans are changes to the operation of the Ocean County Clerk's Office. Ocean County Clerk Scott Colabella said he's ready to continue to serve the public during the ongoing shutdown of county buildings due to the declared state of emergency.

While all non-essential public access to county buildings went into effect Tuesday morning, staff is still in place to answer phones at all offices, including the County Clerk's.

"Most of our work can be accomplished online or over the phone," Colabella said. "We are well-situated to handle this emergency."

Passport application forms are available on the Clerk's website www.clerk.co.ocean.nj.us.
"Please call any of the following phone numbers for more information and assistance on filling out the forms," he said.

Phones will be manned at the County Clerk's main office in Toms River, (732) 929-2018; at the Northern Service Center in Lakewood Township, (732) 370-8850 and the Southern Center in Stafford Township (609) 597-1500.

With Governor Phil Murphy's Tuesday order to close all indoor malls in the state, services are no longer be available at the County Connection in the Ocean County Mall.

With the ongoing travel restrictions, Colabella said he doesn't expect to receive a great number of passport applications during the public shutdown.

The website also has extensive information and all of the necessary forms online for trade name registration.

"Once again, if anyone has any questions all they have to do is reach out to us by phone," he said.
Likewise, document recordings, such as deeds and mortgages, can be handled through the website.

"More than 40 percent of the documents we record every year are delivered to us electronically," Colabella said. "I would encourage more people to sign up online with E Record, which is available at www.njcountyrecording.com or thru a link on our website. For additional information call (732) 929-4764." To reach the recording office direct, call (732) 929-2110.

"If you need a certified copy of your deed or other recorded documents you can request that by calling the deed room at 732-929-2053 or email the County Clerk with any questions about our services at scolabella@co.ocean.nj.us," he said.

Other services that are at least partially available online include notary public applications at njportal.com/DOR/Notary.

Colabella said one of the few services that will be unavailable during the public closure is the issuance of veterans ID cards.

"Unfortunately we will not be able to issue veterans ID cards because we are required to take the individual's photo in our offices," he said.

While the state has not yet decided on any changes to the upcoming June 2 primary, Colabella said his office will continue to issue petitions until the March 30 deadline for anyone wishing to run for county office in the June primary. Independents wishing to run for county office in the November election also need to complete a petition.

Completed petitions need to be dropped off in person to a staff member at the Clerk's Office.

"Please call our election office at 732 929-2153 and our staff can mail a candidates' petition packet, which once completed can be delivered to the Courthouse," he said. "But please call upon delivery so a staff member can review the petition."

Most other documents, with the important exception of passport applications, can be left 24 hours a day at the drop box outside the Ocean County Courthouse, 118 Washington Street, Toms River or at a second drop box just inside the courthouse foyer during regular business hours.

"We do ask that anyone who leaves something in the drop box please include their telephone number or email so we can contact them," Colabella said.

Freeholder Deputy Director Gary Quinn, liaison to the County Clerk's Office, said the all-important drop box will be expanded to include the Ocean County Board of Taxation.

Quinn said a second drop box will be placed in the County Courthouse foyer so property owners can drop off tax appeals.

Quinn requested that anyone dropping off a tax appeal to clearly mark their envelope "Tax Board."
Quinn thanked Colabella and his staff for having so many services available to the public despite the ongoing Coronavirus emergency.

"You can also access our Property Alert Service on our website in addition to accessing numerous lists of elected officials, election dates, links to federal, state and municipal offices as well as search for property records and election results from prior years," he said.

Quinn, on behalf of the entire Board of Freeholders, apologized for any inconvenience closing the buildings has caused the public, but the drastic action was necessary.

"We must do everything we can to contain this virus and protect our staff and the public," Quinn said.

"We will do everything we possibly can to assist the public during this pandemic and we look forward to opening our doors and serving the public in person again as soon as possible."

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