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A message from Director Barbara Jo Crea

Good Afternoon,

It is my honor and pleasure to welcome all of you to the Ocean County Board of Commissioners 2024 organization meeting. Let me first extend best wishes to all of you as we enter a new and promising year.

I want to thank my colleagues on the Board for giving me this opportunity to serve as the 2024 Director of the Board. It is humbling to receive this kind of support. I look forward to a very productive and successful year, working with all of you seated on this dais.

I’d like to congratulate Frank Sadeghi on being sworn in to his first three year term on the Board. I remember the pride I felt when I raised my right hand and took the oath of office just a few years ago. There is nothing like it. I am certain Frank felt the same.

Commissioner Sadeghi brings with him a wealth of experience and knowledge from both the private sector and public office all of which will benefit the residents of Ocean County.

This Board is successful at providing good government because we work together collectively delivering valuable assistance through our programs and services to our taxpayers. Each of us also serves as liaison to various county departments throughout the year.

Since being elected to the Ocean County Board of Commissioners, I couldn’t be more proud of the many accomplishments achieved by the departments I have overseen.

County government or any layer of government for that matter is most beneficial or most crucial when constituents need our help and that help comes in many forms.

Last year I successfully advocated for the establishment of the Homelessness Trust Fund. Not without controversy, it was a topic that had been discussed in the past but didn’t come to fruition. I am so very grateful that after much review and consideration, I was able to get this done.

More than 65,000 people in Ocean County are living in poverty and this includes families and children. Ocean County helps countless numbers of people every day through its established social services programs, and yet more needs to be done.

We established the fund because this Board realized there was a need to help our residents that are struggling. These are single moms and dads, senior citizens, trying to make ends meet, to keep a roof over their heads and food on the table.

This trust fund provides added financial assistance, so we don’t have to rely on just the state and federal programs. The county expects to raise anywhere from $275,000 to $390,000 annually. These funds are not the final answer in helping our citizens, but an important first step. I look forward to the day when we make our first disbursements from the fund directly helping our most vulnerable residents.

Ocean County is also working hard on helping those affected by drug addiction. No one wakes up in the morning and says I want to be a drug addict. Addiction is a terrible disease.

As liaison to the Ocean County Opioid Advisory Council, I have closely worked with our Department of Human Services and other County agencies to make sure the funds distributed from the National Opioid Litigation Resolution against pharmaceutical manufacturers and distributors have the greatest positive impact on our ongoing efforts to address the opioid epidemic.

We are using the money to raise public awareness and to educate, we are working with prevention programs and early intervention, care management and workforce development.

This council is staffed by dedicated workers and volunteers who have set priorities that benefit the men and women in our communities that need it most.

For all of you in this room today that are residents, you know that Ocean County has some of the most beautiful attributes in the state. From the Atlantic Ocean to the east and our farmlands to the west, our beautiful parks to our open space, this Board has made protecting our environment a priority.

As the commissioner who oversees the county’s award winning recycling program run by our Department of Solid Waste Management, I am well aware of the many environmental and financial benefits we provide through the numerous recycling programs and services embraced by both our residents and our municipalities.

It’s rewarding to me to work with such a department that is innovative and forward thinking always improving traditional programs and finding ways to implement new services that will ultimately protect the environment.

This past year, my work with the Ocean County Department of Solid Waste Management and its Director Tony Agliata and his staff, resulted in the creation of a new recycling program to properly and safely dispose of boat flares. I am excited and proud to announce that as a result of this new program, Ocean County is the winner of the 2023 Governors environmental excellence award in the sustainability community category.

I applaud Tony and his staff for being recognized by the state of New Jersey for their outstanding efforts.

Moving forward, as Director of this board my goals are to work with my colleagues on the Board to maintain a stable county tax rate and the county’s AAA bond rating. For the last 7-years, the county property tax rate has decreased. I anticipate it will remain stable in 2024 or continue to decrease.

Also our fiscally conservative approach to budgeting will allow us to maintain our AAA bond rating which gives us the ability to save tax dollars while still improving and maintaining the county infrastructure.

Ocean County is unique in many ways. It is important to me to understand the needs of each community and to be able to provide them with the tools to succeed. It is imperative to me to make certain that through my service on this Board, Ocean County continues to be the best place to live, work, raise a family and retire.

No one works alone. I am fortunate enough to be working with outstanding Commissioners who dedicate their time, energy and experience to benefit the people of Ocean County. Our ability to work together in a professional manner has allowed us to accomplish so very much.

Commissioner Quinn, over the past two years, I have had many questions and you are always there to take time with me and answer my questions thoughtfully. I probably will have many more and I thank you for all your help.

Commissioner Kelly, you and I are from the southern part of Ocean County and we have known each other for many years. You are a good friend and mentor to me and I appreciate your many years on this board and the knowledge and experience you bring to the table.

Commissioner Haines, you have accomplished so much as a public servant, from serving in the state General Assembly, as the Director of the New Jersey Lottery, to being the second woman elected to the Ocean County Board of Commissioners. I’d like to thank you for all you have done and all you do.

Commissioner Sadeghi, I look forward to working with you this year and to see the great things you will accomplish as a member of the Board.

Simply put, I want to thank each of you – your dedication as public officials is second to none.

To repeat what I said earlier we cannot do what we do alone. I would be remiss if I didn’t mention the county workforce that is the backbone of our government.

Ocean County has the best senior staff and Department Directors. I’d like to thank you all for your professionalism and your dedication to Ocean County. Without your hard work and efforts we would not have been able to accomplish so many of our goals, improving the lives of our residents. And to all county workers, I extend my appreciation for the work you do each and every day, for once again I repeat, we cannot do it alone.

Every New Year comes with great opportunities. It’s a new page for all of us. It’s a day to look ahead and embrace all the good that surrounds us – and there is an abundance of it – and to also prepare for all the good we will do. I look forward to working with all of you throughout 2024 making this New Year the best ever.

Again, I thank you all for joining us today.

I wish you and your families a Happy and Healthy New Year!

And, may God Bless all of you and may God Bless America.