FROM THE OFFICE OF THE MAYOR
Eric F. Wilsusen
Happy, Healthy, Safe and Prosperous New Year to all our residents. Hard to believe that I am finishing up my first year in office! Since I began my term the year speed by and now I am focusing on 2020. The end of the year is a good time to reflect where we have been and where we are going. Considering this was a transition year, I feel my administration was able to accomplish quite a bit, although at times, I feel like the crisis of the day can hijack your agenda and we certainly had a few. The year started with a slit release from Weldon Quarry into Lake Hopatcong, we assisted with a drowning in Henderson Cove, we had a murder in White Rock, another drowning on Lake Hopatcong and of course the harmful algal bloom on Lake Hopatcong.
With any new administration, there will always be changes and we had a few. My first priority was to hire a new business administrator. John Eskilson came on board as an interim and he helped me with our search. Twenty applied, and we were fortunate to find Debra Millikin who has proven to be a wonderful addition and is doing a fantastic job for both our employees and residents. We solicited RFP’s for our Township Attorney and Labor Attorney and after 37 years changed firms. We had some retirements, a few decided to move on and we hired a few new part-time positions which have already proven valuable. For the first time anyone can recall, we held a professional development day, appreciation BBQs with our employees and a SWOT analysis with our department heads. Our long term Capital Strategic Plan is nearly complete and will help guide us through the future. We have expanded our social media presence to help be more transparent and informative, our new webpage will be live as of Jan.13th. The Municipal Management software is up and running in our building, health and clerk’s office. Public works and other departments will implement the management software in 2020, a link will be available for public access by February.
Thank you to my wife Kristine, we re-started the Mayors Wellness Campaign which was very successful in 2019, and we plan on expanding some programs in 2020. As promised during my campaign we formed an Economic Advisory Board. This Board is already researching ways to bring economic development to our community. In 2019 economic development expansion occurred with Kean University, Tri-County Orthopedics, Wawa, Betsy Ross Diner, Chalupa Mexican Restaurant, Jefferson Market, and Pokorney’s U-Store it, Tru-Nature Yoga expanded; all will start construction or open in 2020. We thank them all for their investment in Jefferson Township; please support them! The Township merged the Planning and Zoning Board of Adjustment into a Land Use Board which will save some costs.
For 2020, budgeting is always a challenge; one of the main priorities is road improvements. I will be requesting more funding then in the past but we have a long way to go as many of our roads are in bad shape and there are a lot of them! We will be starting micro paving in many areas in the Spring. We have many ordinances to implement or revise this year, this will be a major undertaking but all will help us to be more efficient or responsive. Our garbage/recycling contract is up at the end of 2020; this will be a major challenge as recycling costs have gone through the roof. All our union contracts are up in 2020, so once again another challenge.
At the end of the year, we updated our fee ordinance which had not been updated in some time, some back to the 1990s! While I am not about raising fees through the roof, they have to be inline as to not pass the cost of these services onto the average taxpayer. We continue to look at the efficiencies of each department and will be getting more aggressive in searching for grant opportunities.