A disaster recovery ombudsman position created by the Toms River Township Council is hoped to help residents as they rebuild from Superstorm Sandy.
"I'm pleased that we passed the ombudsman position today," said Council President George Wittmann after the ordinance establishing the position was unanimously approved Monday night. Only Councilman Al Manforti was absent and did not vote.
"I think that will help us with our residents as they have questions," Wittmann said.
The appointee will serve as the public's liaison to state, federal and local government agencies as rebuilding continues, according to the ordinance creating the position, which was first introduced by the Township Council last month.
The ombudsman — someone with the necessary construction and recovery experience, the council has said — is expected to work four weekdays, mostly after normal business hours and on Saturdays to make it easier for residents to have their questions addressed. As a part-time position, the ombudsman will work no more than 19-and-a-half hours each week.
"This one person is not going to answer every question but what they will do is get answers to questions they can't answer themselves. So they'll help to coordinate and wade through the documentation needed to help rebuild your home," Wittmann said.
Business Administrator Paul Shives has said that compensation for the position likely will end up in the $30-40,000 range. The township is expected to fill the position sometime in March.
The ombudsman "has to be flexible," Shives said when the ordinance creating the position was introduced in late-January. "A lot of the time we see the ombudsman coming to you."
At some point the ombudsman may have office hours in Ortley, either in a trailer or at a township annex planned for the A&P complex, Shives said last month. According to the council, the shopping center is anticipated to open sometime in March.
The position will be terminated once administrators feel it is no longer necessary, according to the ordinance.
In another effort to help Sandy-stricken residents, the township hired a part-time temporary records assistant in December to help the clerk's office field requests for documents.