A shared services agreement under which Lavallette assumed responsibilities for building inspection and code enforcement services in Seaside Park is unlikely to continue into 2019.
Seaside Park officials said Borough Attorney Steven Zabarsky recently gave Lavallette a legal notice required to end the partnership, which began in 2017. Seaside Park is hoping to reconstruct its own building department in time for the first of the year in 2019.
The borough has already posted advertisements for jobs opportunities in the new apartment, said Seaside Park Borough Administrator Sandra Rice. Mayor Robert W. Matthies said Rice and Zabarsky would be meeting with their Lavallette counterparts next week to work out the details of the split. Talks have already begun.
“I met with the current rental inspectors who are Lavallette employees right now,” said Rice, explaining that letters to the owners of rental properties about inspections and fees would go out on time.
“We reviewed the letters, the timeline for the letters, and they will go out on time,” Rice said. “They [the checks] will be made out to the Borough of Seaside Park.”
Seaside Park worked out the deal with Lavallette in 2017. Under the current agreement, Lavallette assumes all of the revenue generated through inspections, but provides its services for free. The agreement, signed last year, was for four years, however a clause allows either town to back out with 90 days’ notice. The deal was struck after Seaside Park lost about $75,000 in its building department in 2016.
The relationship has been criticized by both residents and officials in Seaside Park at times, including an ongoing dispute over $100 fines that were assessed to the owners of rental properties whose annual home inspections occurred after March. Seaside Park officials were openly perturbed by the practice and have since asked Lavallette to stop enforcing the regulation so strictly. Lavallette has done so, but questions remain as to whether the rental property owners will ever receive a refund.
Prior to Superstorm Sandy, code enforcement was handled in-house, but Berkeley Township provided inspection services. Berkeley ended the agreement after officials there said they were inundated with requests from their own residents after the storm. Seaside Park operated its own full department between the aftermath of Sandy and the Lavallette partnership.