SEA BRIGHT — A panel of residents will research the benefits and costs that Sea Bright could face if the beachside borough consolidated with a neighboring town.
The citizens advisory committee has until Dec. 31 to study the issue and come back with a report to the Borough Council. No other town has been identified as a pair with which Sea Bright could either merge or be absorbed. Residents named to the panel said the main objective is simply to get more information on consolidation. “Unless you start investigating, you don’t know if it makes sense, you don’t know if it’s beneficial,” said Marianne McKenzie Morse, one of four residents who will be on the citizens advisory committee. “Given the economy going forward, it’s the responsible thing for all municipalities.” In addition to McKenzie Morse, the Borough Council named residents Heather Bedenko, Martin Arasin and Jennifer Walsh to the committee. Councilman Marc Leckstein and Borough Administrator Joe Verruni will serve as liaisons. Consolidating Sea Bright with another town is an idea that has been around before superstorm Sandy, but those who support the idea became more vocal about it after the storm as the town began hosting meetings for residents to discuss long-term plans for rebuilding. Sea Bright Mayor Dina Long said in an interview last month that she personally doesn’t favor consolidation and was skeptical if it will end in cost savings based on other reviews of shared service proposals Sea Bright has considered in the past. But she also said she wants residents to have a voice in running their town and said she would keep an open mind about the committee’s findings. Gina Genovese, executive director of Courage to Connect New Jersey, applauded Sea Bright for looking into consolidation. Courage to Connect New Jersey formed to be a resource for citizens and elected officials interested in consolidation. Click here to continue reading this article in the Asbury Park Press.