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Council Approves Creation of Disaster Recovery Ombudsman Position

Ordinance creating position wins full support of present council members

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. 

notasellout February 12, 2013 at 11:02 AM
It would be in the Towns' best interest to finally hire someone who at least knows what day it is instead of once again hiring a friend or relative of a politician who needs a job. I, for one, am very tired of the across the board incompetence constantly on display in this town when it comes to anything this governing body does. If anything, this storm and its aftermath have shown the exact depth of incompetence the Council has and a complete lack of leadership skills this mayor and his departmental appointees have. Its time to break up this monopoly of stupidity in Toms River and kick the real trash to the curb so that AshBritt can make one final round of gargabe pick up and earn their bloated fee.
Fedup February 12, 2013 at 12:47 PM
I can guarantee you the salary of the Ombudsman will be $40,000, it will be a no-show job and once the Ombudsman is hired it will become clear who needed a job.
Chief Wahoo February 12, 2013 at 01:06 PM
Well lets hope Toms River has a disaster every year then. Would hate for any public employee to lose their job.
molly February 12, 2013 at 02:03 PM
This person should have a dedicated web site where questions can be fielded and information posted.
Mr. ? February 12, 2013 at 02:18 PM
One person (part time) to handle what a mayor, administration, and seven council members can /could not handle. Hmm! Yup! And hiring sometime in March? That's 3 to 4 weeks from now! Expediting the process, with hiring notice to be placed in the OC GOP Gazete good ole boys club news section.
George February 12, 2013 at 03:30 PM
Guaranteed to be a Repub. Club member and/or campaign contributor or relative/neighbor of mayor/council members! "No experience necessary."
Sydney February 12, 2013 at 04:11 PM
40K for a part time job? Who's lucky relative is getting that one?
Irina February 12, 2013 at 04:12 PM
Who did George Gilmore tell these mo-mo's to hire? I want the freaken job.....I'll show all these imcompetants what a housewife can do with a budget. How to tighten the belt. How to actually get things done. But of course I'll never get the job....I don't know Georgie Gilmore.
Mike L February 12, 2013 at 06:14 PM
Since the above stated individuals couldn't handel the job that they are already being paid for, the $40,000.00 paid for a maximum 19 1/2 hour job should be taken from their salaries. Someone also mentioned that this info and questions should be done online to give everyone the opportunity to get answers without driving to someplace to meet with this individual and wait outside his office on wheels for hours. This was a great idea, it saves time and gas. Computers not being used in the township complex after hours could be used to accept questions and answers given back within 24 hours.
grace February 12, 2013 at 07:09 PM
its not maria maruca?
CanWeTalk? February 12, 2013 at 07:29 PM
Boy, did you say a MOUTHFUL....WRITE TO THE POWERS THAT BE! Lettem know that!
Dudley February 12, 2013 at 08:14 PM
Lots of peanut gallery motions on here. How many showed up last night to voice any concerns? No doubt it will be a friend of the R club, who has any doubt about that?
Michael Capo February 12, 2013 at 08:29 PM
Im not sure but I think its the Mayor's butcher's wife's cousin's nephew.
Ken February 12, 2013 at 09:15 PM
Well someone's relative is going to get a nice job. Less than 20 hours a week and at a salary a lot of people wish they were getting paid for their full time job.
Senior Citizen February 12, 2013 at 10:12 PM
Maria Maruca? Still waiting for her to file a class action suit against Certified Revaluation
Mr. ? February 12, 2013 at 10:46 PM
Do the math! At a work year of say 50 weeks, but term is projected to be six months at 40 k, so that would be like 80k a year at 20 hours a week = $80 an hour. Wow! So glad our TR government has so much money! What?...where is my money?
Barbara February 12, 2013 at 11:24 PM
It's nepotism time.....let's all do the nepotism dance
Chief Wahoo February 12, 2013 at 11:39 PM
hire Kellys daughter........I hear she is very flexible
Laci February 13, 2013 at 12:06 AM
Well the position isn't posted as of now on the townships website. Guess you find a qualified ombudsman at the country club and his/her application is penned on a cocktail napkin.
charlotte February 13, 2013 at 01:38 AM
It would be logical to use existing personnel and hire someone to make the existing system more interactive (on the internet). Many questions could be answered with more expediency through the internet as everyone has similar questions. We really don't need another person that is overwhelmed with questions in person. We also do not have time to visit - remember we are trying to live in an evacuated state, remediate our property, go to work, take our children to school, fill out our reams of paperwork for FEMA and insurance, scheduling visits for FEMA and insurance, filling out permits for this that and the other thing. Yep - visiting your new Obudsman does not seem helpful to me right now.
charlotte February 13, 2013 at 01:47 AM
Was this ongoing?
Njswagg February 13, 2013 at 07:58 AM
It is truly sickening to see how this twnship is run. Its all about the political side of everything. All they do is hire their golfing/drinking buddies. Their are to many chiefs and not enough indians.
Michael Capo February 13, 2013 at 12:52 PM
If you wait for Maruca to do anything to help her constituents you will grow moss on your bottom. Im still waiting for an answer to an EMAIL i sent her several weeks ago.
Michael Capo February 13, 2013 at 12:54 PM
I would like to see this town go through a zero base budgeting process for the next fiscal year. I have a suspicion that the resulting savings would be astonishing (if they did it honestly).
Mike L February 13, 2013 at 02:36 PM
Michael C, it would be nice even if they worked with what they had, oh! that right, a very large percentage are actually paper shuffelers, ever go down town and thru the building and see how much talking and coffee clotches are going on during "work" hours. Yes, there are some that do work and they are carrying the do nothings. As far as you saying, zero base budgeting, well last years budget was held down by the CAP. But a week later the "good old boys" put thru a 20 million bond to cover what they needed and didn't get in the budget process. Just another way they said @$#@% to the Tax Payers, because when the bonds mature, who do think is going to pay for it? Toms River has no future with the good old boys.
Mike L February 13, 2013 at 02:39 PM
Dudley, read Charlote's statement. Not all as fortunate as you. When did they ever have a meeting that was in line for the Tax Payers of this Township.
Larry February 13, 2013 at 05:21 PM
And they keep winning by massive margins every year. So it looks like the majority of voters have no problem with this stuff.
Don Lombardi February 18, 2013 at 07:31 PM
The Council and Mayor should seek a multi-talented person (male or female) who will accept the Ombudsman position ... without compensation, for a one-year term. The official will have an office in the T.R. municipal complex, and one office assistant. They will need direct-line phones, computers with special email addresses, and be open for business on the same hours as other municipal emloyees. I would also recommend that these individuals be recently retired public servants, preferably on public pension systems and with current health insurance benefits. That being the case, they should be more agreeable to VOLUNTEERING.

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