FROM THE OFFICE OF THE MAYOR
Eric F. Wilsusen
It is that time of year, budget time. My Administration has been working hard the past few months with the Township Council on the 2023 Municipal Budget to cut costs and reduce the budget in any way we can to reduce our tax burden. Unfortunately, we struggle each year due to the lack of significant new ratables due to the 2004 Highlands Act. Over 80% of our Township borders are within the Highlands preservation area, severely restricting our ability to develop and grow to bring in new ratables. We actually saw a decrease in population from 2010 to 2020, which has had a tremendous impact on our school system’s state funding. As we all feel the pain of higher gas and oil prices and inflation this past year, your municipal government is not exempt. It appears 2023 will be a challenging year for us all once again. We are continuing with our aggressive road improvement program. We have been fortunate to bid early on many projects and have seen significant savings over the last four years. NJ Natural Gas is expected to complete the paving of West Shawnee Trail. The Township will finish the remaining roads in Lake Shawnee, a leftover from last year, as we needed to complete a major drainage project on West Shawnee Trail. We received a NJDOT grant for the paving of Minnisink Road, which will be completed in 2023. Once the budget is adopted, we will be sure to publish a list of other Township roads to be paved and cape sealed.
Unfortunately, I have no update on the potential sewer project for the Lake Hopatcong section of the Township. As mentioned previously, $90 million was authorized by Congress and signed by the President at the end of 2022. The funding now has to be appropriated. We will continue to work with Congresswoman Sherill’s office on this matter.
As I write this message, NJ DOT is preparing to start long overdue improvements to the Berkshire Valley Road & Route 15 intersection, adding two left turn lanes onto 15SB. The completion of this project will be in 2025. Work continues on the Weldon Road bridge, which is expected to be completed in the Summer of 2024. NJ DOT is also working on replacing the bridge on 15SB by Cedar Terrace.
We expect to start our trail project this spring/summer supporting eco-tourism, starting at Compton-Goble Road off Route 15. We have created numerous neighborhood trails through the Nolans Point/East Shore area, all at no cost to our taxpayers. Thank you to former Mayor Russ Felter for heading up our Trails Committee and moving forward on these projects.
We will again have our combined Jefferson Fest firework display with the Jefferson Education Foundation’s Annual Carnival at the High School/Middle School complex. The Carnival will be on May 31, June 1-3; fireworks will be on Saturday, June 3.
At the beginning of the year, I solicit nominations from the community for our Citizen of the Year for the previous year. Each year, I receive nominations for many well-deserving individuals, and it is always a difficult decision to pick just one. I thank them all for what they do for our community. This year I received an extraordinary amount of nominations for one particular deserving individual. So I have chosen Adele Wildermuth as the 2022 Citizen of the Year. Adele has been very active in our community for many years. Adele has served on our Board of Education for the last six years and is an active member of the Milton United Methodist Church. Adele serves as a trustee, coordinator of the New Hope Food pantry, youth group leader, vacation bible school coordinator, and serves on the preschool board at UMC, to name a few. Congratulations Adele!