OCEANPORT LEADERS: WHAT’S THE PROBLEM?

oport-boro-hallOceanport officials defend their town’s handling of Sea Bright’s caseload. (Photo by Dustin Racioppi; click to enlarge)

By DUSTIN RACIOPPI

The court service agreement between Oceanport and Sea Bright is working just fine, say Oceanport officials, who took issue with negative comments made last week by Sea Bright Councilman Read Murphy.

Murphy said the pact, under which Oceanport handles Sea Bright’s municipal court cases, hasn’t worked out financially, and in terms of logistics is a nightmare.

But Oceanport councilmen Joe Irace and William Johnson say they hadn’t heard any feedback like that in Oceanport — and still haven’t. They read  about it on redbankgreen, and say they were “dumbfounded” by Murphy’s characterization.

Murphy, who is related to an Oceanport police officer, couldn’t be reached for comment Wednesday.

“Dumbfounded is the word, because that is not what we’ve heard,” said Irace, who is Oceanport’s council president. “I’ve asked people, are there any issues? They say no.”

The councilmen also are a bit miffed that Murphy’s concerns — or anybody else’s — haven’t been shared with them.

“If there’s an issue in Sea Bright, we expect to hear from them,” Irace said.

Oceanport took over Sea Bright’s case load in March, a move Irace says was a gesture to help its neighbor, which had been looking to cut costs and was working on finding a new home for its court. Sea Bright pays Oceanport $70,000 a year for the work.

“We kind of think it was something, if you look back on it, they had nowhere to go. We don’t make any money on this. It’s a wash to us,” Irace said. “There’s really not anything than being a good neighbor.”

Irace does admit, though, that taking Sea Bright’s initial case load was a bit of a jam. There was a backlog of cases, he said, and it did place more pressure than expected on the borough’s system. Other than that, though, the response from employees and local officials has been a thumbs up, he said.

Johnson said he doesn’t want this to become a political football that’s punted back and forth between the boroughs. They’d just like to know of any problems, he said, so they can be addressed.

“We have no problem with him (Murphy),” Johnson said. “On our end, (the shared service) is fine.”