TOMS RIVER – Mayor Maurice “Mo” Hill’s plans to release a quarterly newsletter received council approval at the governing body’s most recent meeting.
The first edition of the 8-12 page “Toms River Current” should hit resident mailboxes at the end of the month or the beginning of October.
“The cost for printing the newsletters is under $19,000,” said Art Gallagher, the mayor’s spokesperson. “We plan to send it to every residential address in Toms River and anticipate that postage will be approximately $7,000.”
A number of municipalities throughout the state already use newsletters to keep their communities appraised of upcoming events, resources, and work done by their administrations.
Gallagher said that while he is heading up the project, several people are participating in both putting together content and production of the end product.
“The plan is to share factual information about good things happening in town,” Gallagher said. “We want to highlight what we’ve accomplished and show some of the great things going on in areas like the recreation department. There are also things like the new skate park and dog park we want to showcase and give schedules for events at the Senior Center.”
When the resolution came before the governing body for approval, Councilman Justin Lamb asked for its removal from the consent agenda for discussion. A consent agenda is a list of routine matters that can be voted on without discussion.
Council President Kevin Geoghegan said the total award allocated for the newsletter is $37,930, although it is open-ended. The amount is expected to cover two quarterly editions, which Geoghegan stressed were not intended as political pieces.
Lamb asked why the pricing was left open-ended and questioned the timing of the first release. Pricing differentials appear related to the cost of mailing and the final publication size.
“It (the newsletter) is to bring what the town is doing, as a lot of people seem to be uninformed even though the information’s on the website and various other media platforms,” replied Geoghegan. “It’s intended to be truthful, factual, and if you have something you want to contribute, you can.”
By way of example, Geoghegan said he’d like the newsletter to include something about the importance of numbers on houses and streetlights.
Lamb said other jurisdictions solicit businesses to advertise and asked why taxpayers had to bear the cost of the newsletter. The Ward 1 councilman pressed further, stating Hill already sends out a letter with tax bills.
“That’s once a year,” Hill pointed out. “This will provide more updated information to the public.”
Gallagher confirmed after the council meeting that the township intends to consider the concept of advertisers supplementing the cost of the publication.
Council Vice President Matthew Lotano said the governing body received criticism regarding a lack of communication at last year’s reorganization meeting. He felt the proposed newsletter would be an asset for that reason.
Lamb voted against appropriating funds for the quarterly newsletter, while Councilman Daniel Rodrick abstained. Rodrick said he saw the newsletter’s value, mainly because residents no longer receive print media at home. However, Rodrick expressed concerns that the timing seemed close to Hill’s election.
Hill is not on the ballot for the 2022 election.
“I want to support this, “said Rodrick. “But I am conflicted as I would like to see some sort of plan that there would be fairness ensured and that other members of the governing body would have an opportunity to communicate to the public as well.”
The contract for printing and mailing services awarded to Urner Barry only covers 2022 editions of the newsletter with anticipated release dates in September and November.