A staggering 10 percent of all admissions for substance abuse treatment in New Jersey came from Ocean County residents last year, according to newly released data (link to full report, county admissions table on page 4). Atlantic County residents made up 6 percent of all statewide admissions (the fifth most admissions last year behind Ocean, Camden, Essex and Monmouth counties).
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Three quarters of the inmates in Atlantic County’s jail are addicted to opioids and the jail is the first in the state to test out a one-year program offering methadone to inmates, reports Joe Hernandez for NewsWorks. The Atlantic/Cape May, Ocean and Burlington court systems in South Jersey run so-called Drug Courts, which help divert some people with abuse disorders to recovery services and away from the criminal justice system, but not everyone is eligible and many still end up in county jails.
Assemblyman Vince Mazzeo hopes there will be new discussion about combining Atlantic County Utilities Authority (ACUA) with the Atlantic City water authority, according to a letter he sent on Wednesday. “The time is now to ensure that Atlantic City’s prestigious water company stays in public hands,” wrote Mazzeo in the letter addressed to the two top executives at the authorities and lawyer Jeff Chiesa, who is charged with overseeing the state takeover of Atlantic City. The ACUA and the Atlantic City Municipal Utilities Authority (ACMUA) last year held talks about working together to help the city water authority generate more income, which would help bolster the city’s own financial position. “I’m writing today in the hopes that this letter will help renew the conversation in an effort to bring together two well-run utilities authorities for the sake of the public good,” Mazzeo wrote. The fate of Atlantic City’s water authority has been uncertain since the precarious position of the city’s finances put pressure on officials to sell or lease it.
The number of prescriptions for opioid painkillers written in some South Jersey counties increased between 2015 and 2010, bucking the national trend of a decline in opioid prescription rates, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found. Cumberland and Cape May counties saw an increase in opioid prescription rates over that period, while the prescription rate in Atlantic, Camden, Salem, Gloucester and Burlington counties remained stable, but much higher than the prescription rate in North Jersey, the CDC found. The report, part of a nation-wide review of opioid prescription rates published last week, showed that South Jersey has some of the highest opioid prescription rates in the nation. The CDC report found some socio-economic characteristics were associated with a higher rate of opioid prescription: “a larger percentage of non-Hispanic whites; higher rates of uninsured and Medicaid enrollment, lower educational attainment; higher rates of unemployment; micropolitan status; more dentists and physicians per capita; a higher prevalence of diagnosed diabetes, arthritis, and disability; and higher suicide rates. Together, these factors explain approximately 32% of the variation in the amount of opioids prescribed at the county-level.”
Atlantic County is looking for a law firm to challenge a law that shrunk Atlantic City casinos’ tax payments and increased the property tax burden on homeowners and businesses. The county wants a law firm to “challenge the constitutionality of the Casino Property Tax Stabilization Act,” according to the request for proposals published on Thursday. The lawyers could be asked to seek an injunction “against the further implementation of the act.” Sealed bids are due on May 23 and any successful bidder would be awarded a 12-month contract. The law was agreed almost a year ago but did not come into effect until New Jersey’s Department of Community Affairs declared Atlantic City in need of “stabilization” in November.
The west side of Lake Lenape Park in the Pinelands of Atlantic County is about to get a major refit, with Atlantic County and the Atlantic County Improvement Authority coming together to build a bathhouse and extend the number of camping sites along the water’s edge. The nearly 2,000 acre park is in the pinelands, which means there are additional hurdles to build or develop the area. The only bathroom at the site is at the boathouse at the southern end to the park and visitors to the 18-site campground in the northern section of the park rely on port-a-potties. Still, the $17-a-night sites are in demand throughout the April-November season, and the county’s parks department has been looking to extend camping options for some time. In fact, a plan to extend sewer, water and electricity lines out to the campsite area in the north of the park was part of plans formed two decades ago, said Glen Mawby, director of facilities management for the county.
The infrastructure company that was awarded a contract to design the first building at the Stockton Aviation Research and Technology Park already wants to be paid more. Infrastructure company AECOM was last month granted an additional $41,234.00 for an amended contract worth $738,390.00, according to the minutes of the Atlantic County Improvement Authority’s August meeting. The extra money is needed because when AECOM submitted its original bid, the scope of the project was not yet finalized, according to the minutes. “Therefore, certain assumptions were made, and while some of these assumptions were correct, some were inaccurate,” the minutes state. Among the changes are an allowance to design a “Thunder Room” (a kind of top-notch conference room, apparently) and a roof-top deck.
Atlantic County is seeking bids to replace epoxy resin surfacing for the floors and walls of the county’s Animal Shelter in Pleasantville. A bid bond and surety are required. The purchasing contact is Theresa Kennedy, 609-343-2248. The opening date is 9/23/2016.
Remember when Atlantic City needed to borrow $73 million from the state to pay its bills? Well, the Queen of Resorts got her money, but it came with a few strings attached. One involves Atlantic City’s Municipal Utilities Authority, which provides water to more than 8,000 residents, businesses and vacation-home owners.
The small print of the loan creates a Catch-22 situation for the city and the water authority. The loan says Atlantic City’s Council must agree by September 15 to an ordinance that would hand over the water authority, in the event the city is unable to pay back the loan. But the loan also says that if City Council can’t agree on that ordinance before September 15, it could wind up handing over the water authority’s assets anyway, since it would be violating its borrowing terms. And some people worry that if the city agrees to the ordinance, it will give the state a chance to seize the water authority assets anyway, even if the city follows the terms of the agreement.