Moving daily operation to private firm will save $572,000 annually

FREEHOLD, NJ – In a move that will save county taxpayers more than $572,000 annually, the Monmouth County Board of Chosen Freeholders voted unanimously last night to privatize the daily operation of four county-owned drawbridges.

The county hired Drawbridge Services Inc., Pompano Beach, FL, which submitted a winning bid of $1,485,108. Currently, it costs the county $2,057,778 to operate the four bridges, including salaries, overtime, fringe benefits and maintenance materials.

“As stewards of county tax dollars, it is incumbent upon the freeholders to make sure tax monies are being spent in the most efficient manner,” said Freeholder Deputy Director John P. Curley, liaison to the Department of Public Works and Engineering, which oversees bridge operations. “Some county services are better handled by the private sector, and this happens to be one of them.”

As a result, 28 Monmouth County bridge tenders will receive layoff notices. However, Drawbridge Services Inc. has a contractual obligation to interview all laid-off county employees. It is expected that some of the employees will fill existing county vacancies or choose to retire.

“Our employees come first and foremost,” Curley said. “We know they have financial obligations and that has made this a difficult decision. It is the Board’s desire that any current bridge tender not hired by Drawbridge Inc. be given the opportunity to interview for vacancies in all county departments.”

County-owned bridges affected by the move are the Glimmer Glass Bridge in Manasquan, the Oceanic Bridge connecting Rumson and Middletown, the Sea Bright-Rumson Bridge and the Shark River Bridge (Ocean Avenue) connecting Avon and Belmar.

Hiring a private firm to operate the bridges will save $572,270 per year. The privatization of movable bridges is consistent with  the national trend. With this contract, Monmouth County will be the first agency in New Jersey, local or state, to privatize this service.

The total personnel assigned to operate the bridges now include four chief bridge operators, 19 bridge operators and five bridge attendants.