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Excerpts from the Mayors 2003 Reorganization Remarks
Happy New Year and welcome to our 2003 reorganization meeting and my State of the Borough Address. It's the Mayors responsibility to address the residents annually and to give a report on the State of our Borough. Summing up the past years activities in 40 minutes is indeed challenging because Hasbrouck Heights is such an active and thriving community.
The state of our Borough in 2002 was very good. 2002 was a successful and productive year for the Borough of Hasbrouck Heights. 2002 will be a year to remember for the many challenges that we faced and worked hard to overcome.
Like any successful entity, it takes a team effort. In our case, I thank the Council for their hard work, dedication and commitment in making Hasbrouck Heights a great place to live, work and raise a family.
First and foremost I want to congratulate Councilman Andy Link and Justin DiPisa on their reelection and look forward to working with them on the council this year.
Of course we thank former Mayor and Assemblywoman Rose Marie Heck for all her help and her tenacity in obtaining millions in grant money for this Borough, and as always, our residents are in her list of priorities.
I want to especially thank Michael Kronyak, our Borough Administrator for his tireless efforts in the thorough and efficient running of our Borough and his masterful handling of the additional responsibilities stemming from the municipal building fire.
I also commend Borough Attorney, Ralph Chandless for his professional guidance and support. He always serves the best interests of this Borough, and has always served in the highest ethical standards.
I would also like to thank our Borough Clerk, Ro Sees, for her outstanding efforts in the clerks office and her additional heroic efforts with the Anti Drug Council, the 9-11 Ceremonies, numerous other activities such as ground breaking, youth week, etc. She is always up to the tasks and gets the job done. I would also like to commend Bernice Baker and Lori French for all their hard work this year.
I would also like to thank the Masonic organization for their generosity in sharing their home with us once again in 2002. I assure you that this will be our last few months with you and on behalf of all our residents I say thank you once again.
2002 was a very
busy year for the Mayor and Council some of the highlights were:
Tax Collections and Tax Rates
Starting with the 2002 budget
year we were faced with a tax increase of almost 10 points. This was due in large part to
increases in health benefits, police salaries and miscellaneous other municipal costs.
Together with the sharp knife of Councilman Link, Hereen & myself with Mike Kronyak, we reduced the budget, cut nearly 5 points from the budget. The end result was a small municipal government increase in the average house of approximately $115.00 for the year. Overall the municipal government tax rate has increased an average of only 1.25% per the last eight years. A great testament to frugality of this municipality.
Collection rate is on target to meet prior year collection rate of 98.5%. I must also thank Concita Parker and Angela Ferraro, of the tax office, in keeping our tax collection rate stable.
Surplus or profit for the year 2002 is estimated to be approximately 1.1 million dollars which will be used to offset this years budget.
Our tax base-ratables are up almost $800,000.00 over 2001. This increase almost negates the amount of lost rateables we lost on land purchases for the new municipal complex. Our Tax Assessor, George Reggo, has aggressively booked new construction in order to get them on the tax roles. Great job George!
We opposed Teterboro Airport expansion and renewed our membership in the Teterboro Coalition. Last year, Councilwoman Verrastro and I became proactive in joining anti-airport marches and demonstrations. Councilwoman Verrastro is our liaison to the Coalition. She has done a great job advocating our Boroughs case against the airport. The Borough is a Plaintiff, in a Lawsuit, against The Port Authority which has resulted to date in them coming forward with information on the airport expansion.
We once again opposed cable rate hikes to The Board of Public Utilities, and to Cablevision directly. A few years ago, I took up a fight against Cablevision to get senior citizen discounts for our residents. They said it would never be done. When Borough Attorney Ralph Chandless added this to our prior contract, and I am pleased and proud to report, that through our direct efforts, we succeeded in getting discounts for our seniors from Cablevision.
We opposed development of the Curtis Wright tract in Wood-Ridge and will continue to do so. We do not want increases in traffic as a result of any new development, in fact we want to obtain more open space in that area. After numerous letters to the Borough of Wood-Ridge, and my appearance at their planning board meetings, Wood-Ridge Mayor, Paul Sarlo has recently written to us asking for a meeting to discuss our concerns -- which we are doing.
We thank former long time Recreation Chair Dick Tort and the many members that served over the years on the former Recreation Commission. In its place we have created the Recreation Programs Advisory Committee to compliment the re-organized Recreation Department. This committee was created with much broader powers than the old committee, as they can go outside our borders to discuss recreation facilities with other towns, advise the Borough on new facilities, etc. In fact, Im going to recommend that the council fund a feasibility study for a new Recreation Center to answer questions as to what, where and how to build a facility and at what cost.
Legendary Judge Harry Chandless, retired after 36 years on the bench. Judge Chandless served the residents honorably and faithfully during his term and we wish him well in his retirement in which he looks forward to spending more time with his family. Thank you for your honorable service to this Borough. I must also mention the people who make Judge Chandless look good, Court Administrator Sue Paul and Violations Clerk Craig Ferdinand.
I nominated and the council approved life long resident Janice Gatto as our new Municipal Court Judge. Janice is the first woman to serve as judge in our history. She comes from a family with a long history of service to this Borough. She is eminently qualified for the judicial position and will proudly serve our Borough in this most important position.
The new Municipal Complex is in its final stages of construction and is on schedule to be completed in the spring of 2003. The construction has been proceeding relatively trouble free. This is no accident as the council and the construction committee have been on top of every aspect of construction. We have instituted a third monthly meeting since the fire and the committee meets at least once a week with the construction managers. In addition myself, or members of the committee, are on the job daily. Councilman Pepe and DiPisa are to be commended for a job well done on this project.
Original Ordinance in the amount of $9,500,000.00 for construction was amended as follows:
$703,723.00 for Library Grant Funds
$128,000.00 Comm. Development. Funds for an Elevator in Public Safety Complex
$852,000.00 for Modifications to the Original Plans and Change Orders
Public Safety Complex : All contracts for the construction of the Public Safety Complex have been awarded and the General Contractor has begun mobilization. The temporary electric service is being installed and we expect footings and foundations to start very shortly.
A Junior Ambulance and Firefighters Squad was created in the Fire Department. This program was highly successful, and I commend Chief Robert Thomasey for creating this program to not only educate our youth -- but encouraging them to serve their community.
2002 became the first year during which volunteer firefighters and ambulance members were able to benefit from the Length of Service Awards Programs. Although this has cost the taxpayers 1 tax point in the 2002 budget, we can never repay our volunteer firefighters for their services.
Hook and Ladder was refurbished and placed back in service in April - cost $98,190.00
Took delivery of new Pierce Pumper Truck replacing 25 year old truck.
Took delivery of a new ambulance
grant from Assemblywoman Rose Marie Heck
We continue to expand our
intergovernmental services which now has fire and 9-11 coverage to Teterboro, 9-11
services to Wood-Ridge and a joint Tax Assessors office which includes South Hackensack
and Rochelle Park.
Planning and Zoning Changes
Ordinances have been adopted which:
Created an environmental commission which would be responsible for reviewing applications for development for among other things preservation of trees and protection of the environment
Further amended the adult
A new litter vacuum was purchased for use on The Boulevard and in various public areas.
It is our intention to begin The Boulevard improvements (lighting and pavers/sidewalk) at the new municipal complex and extend these improvements southward as funding becomes available.
Summary of Capital Improvements
Streets to be completed Spring/Summer 2003:
Charlton Avenue from Terrace to
Streets completed in 2002:
Over 3 miles of streets completed
Continued rehabilitation of Sanitary Sewer System and acquisition of a sewer inspection system.
MDT's in police cars have all been replaced with new state-of-the-art mobile computers. Giving our police department the tools it needs
The communications system, used by the Police and Fire Departments, has been completely rebuilt with voting receivers and repeaters - $300,000.00 in legislative grant funds from Assemblywoman Rose Marie Heck.
The following grant applications have been submitted and we are waiting for word on awards:
Domestic Preparedness Applications for fire vehicles and message boards ($78,500.00) and new pagers for the Fire Department ($31,750.00).
Livable Communities Pilot Program for Boulevard Streetscape improvements ($385,000.00)
D.E.P. Livable Communities Program and Bergen County Open Space Program for a Pocket Park at the Swim Club ($104,000.00).
Statewide Local ADA Grant to help offset cost of the elevator at new municipal building ($30,844.00).
Community Development Funding to help offset cost of elevator at new municipal building ($72,000.00) and construction of barrier free curb ramps ($60,000.00).
Department of Welfare
In 2002, Lee Kulakowski stayed on as a consultant and helped our residents through many difficult and trying times. Our residents once again gave generously and we thank the Lutheran Church for their generosity and use of their church for meetings and distributions throughout the year.
Many thanks to Lee Kulakowski for her many years of service to the residents of Hasbrouck Heights. I would also like to acknowledge the present and past members of the Welfare Board for their unselfish service to the Borough.
with our Senior citizens in July at the Second Annual Senior Picnic. Our seniors are an
active and thriving group that really enjoyed a day in the park. They deserve this great
event -- thank you to Ro Sees, Rob Brady and the DPW.
The Police Department
Our Police Department continues to do a fine job for our residents.
In 2002, two new patrolman were hired, Paul Albanese and James Ciccarelli.
Police range upgrade was completed in 2002 to include a new target system, range building, fencing and paving, again from a grant from Assemblywoman Rose Marie Heck
New police and fire radio frequencies received from the FCC as a result of much work by Chief Colaneri and Captain Castiglione. New repeaters will be online in early 2003. This should further insure the safety of our residents in emergency situations. ( Remember 9-11)
There were over -11,000 calls received in 2002 -- about the same as 2001.
There were 6,000 summons issued in 2002 down nearly 1/3rd from the year before.
Drunk driving enforcement by our Department is one of the highest in Bergen County. This aggressive enforcement will save many lives. The Record newspaper declared our Departments DWI enforcement to be one of the finest in Bergen County. We Agree!
The Department has implemented may new programs: The Jr. Police Academy under Sgt. Delorenzo & Cronin was expanded this year and has been a huge success with our young residents.
A domestic violence Response Team was created in which a group of trained volunteers respond to domestic violence call and make the victims aware of all options and programs available to them.
The Bike Marathon held over Memorial Weekend, under Chief Colaneri and Captain Castigleone, was a huge success.
The Department received AAA Silver Award for Traffic Safety.
The DARE program continued its success with Sgt. Shawn Mullins teaching the core class to the 5th grade
Regrettably in 2002, we could not reach a collective bargaining agreement with the Police Union, and the negotiations have gone into arbitration. We must as the guardian of the taxpayers put the brakes on the upward spiraling of the salaries and wages. One of the main contentions in the arbitration are reductions in compensation to officers to be hired in the future . This is not fair and must change!
We will continue in 2003 to achieve the goal to hire civilian dispatchers.
Thank you to
Commissioners Verrastro and Link and Chief Colaneri for keeping the Department proactive
rather than reactive.
Hasbrouck Heights Fire Department
The Hasbrouck Heights Fire Department had a busy 2002 -- under Chief Art Knobloch and Assistant Chiefs Taylor and Thomasey.
For the year ending November 30th the Department responded to 584 down slightly from 2001, and 1431 ambulance calls up slightly from 2001.
There were 50 active members in 2002 we lost 3 firefighter since 2001! We need new members, please help out and serve your community!
LOSAP (Length of Service Awards) to give volunteers a pension at the end of their service had its first year of operation in 2002 and was successful. They deserve this and much more for their service to our community.
The oldest pumper, a 1977 Seagrave Pumper, was replaced with a new Pierce Pumper and the Department received a new ambulance from a legislative grant from Assemblywoman Rose Marie Heck.
The Department will move to its last temporary Headquarters on Central and the Boulevard (the Hershey's kiss) which is working out well. The old building was demolished to make way for the new public safety complex.
Many thanks to our Fire Department for their patience and continued professionalism in their duties under these extreme circumstances. We also thank Chief Knobloch for his service to the Borough, and wish our new Chief Bob Thomasey the "Best of Luck for 2003".
The DPW has done a great job cleaning sweeping and plowing our town. Many thanks to Bob Heck, Jim Schneider and all the personnel for their hard work over the past year.
A new camera for viewing sewers was used and nearly 2 miles of sewer were videoed and 800 feet of line were excavated and repaired.
The Butler building from Hamilton Avenue was reconstructed @ DPW used as a garage to hold chipper, jet vac and other equipment.
Our parks are in overall good condition.. I am also proud that we have designated the first new park in our Borough in over 50 years on Borough land at the Swim Club. In fact we have been approved for almost full funding by Bergen County. Councilman Wassberg has been working on the logistics of memorial brick pavers at memorial park and Assemblywoman Rose Marie Heck is coordinating this project with the veterans. I thank Councilman Wassberg for his hard work in bringing these projects to reality as Parks Commissioner
In 2003, we plan to conduct a flow study of the entire system to pin point the inflow problems and correct them.
In 2003 we hope to address long time flooding problems below Terrace Avenue.
The Child Health Conference continues to thrive not only for new borns but also for school age children
The flu clinic was held again in 2002 and over 200 residents were immunized against pneumonia
The Health Consultation Program, which is free to all residents over the age of 18, continues to be active and is held on the fourth Thursday of each month from 10:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m.. We thank long time Health Registrar Marilyn deRussy who has done a great job on a very limited budget.
Track and field, a new program, had over 60 boys and girls enrolled and was very successful
There was also a new cheering and dance team for girls who are not looking to play sports, but want to be part of a team
The wrestling program was highly successful with a record number of kids registered Many thanks to the coaches and all the volunteers that make this program a success.
Recreation Youth Basketball league was improved in 2002 to be safer and placed in a more competitive league is underway with over 200 girls and boys registered. The game and practice schedule was revamped and new equipment was purchased to revitalize the program.
Senior aerobics was very successful and there are many day trips being organized for area plays and musicals.
Men's flag football league, new in 2002, was highly successful with over 90 men in the program.
Recreation Director, Rob Brady, has many exciting new ideas for 2003, including posting his schedules on the web-site. Good Luck and future success to Rob and the Department.
The Hasbrouck Heights Free Public Library under director, Michelle Reutty, Tom Verrastro and the Board of Trustees had a prosperous year, as they anxiously wait for their new home.
In 2002, children's programs have doubled in size.
In 2003 the Library will announce a new fund raising program to provide up to the minute technology and improved resources to their users.
New programs were instituted fore teenagers and had great turnouts.
Dr. Szanto reports that he has received 15 Pentium chip computers from BCC and that he has completed obtaining the new police fire radio frequencies.
Dr. Szanto, has
done a fine job creating and implementing our emergency operating plan and will continue
to improve emergency management as the state has renewed its emphasis on security and
preparedness. This office will also have a new home in the municipal complex.
Last year the total value of new construction in Hasbrouck Heights was over five million dollars. The department was taken over by new building Inspector Nick Melfi. New department secretary, Donna Von Dongen has done a great job in running the Department day to day.
The Design District Board continues to make improvements to Boulevard signage one store at a time. This board was integrated into the Planning Board to better coordinate applications, and has worked well. Thanks to this Board for its hard work.
Pat Vella has also battled against vacant homes with absentee owners and had the properties cleaned up through court action.
Pat has aggressively pursued businesses with dumpsters requesting locking lids and fencing and will continue in this area until things are cleaned up to his satisfaction. He has succeeded at the North End of town to have the NJDOT install a fence on the highway to stop litter from polluting our local streets and parks. This project was completed with the help of Assemblywoman Rose Marie Heck
Pat has done a great job and goes above and beyond sometimes working weekends and nights to keep our town clean.
Thanksgiving Day Parade was again a huge success thanks to Chamber president, Tom Meli who also started the Farmers Market and serves on the Library Board. Tom has brought back a great tradition and is to be commended for his excellent work.
For 2003, we will work hard to keep the tax rate stable. We will see the completion of the Municipal Complex and the Public Safety Complex should be well under way. We also hope to see the long awaited Boulevard improvements begin.
In closing, we have accomplished much in 2002 through teamwork and a lot of hard work.
Our mission in the year 2003 must be to keep moving forward. The future is full of promise and will serve to unite us. We, on this council, believe that the best years for our beloved Borough of Hasbrouck Heights -- are yet to come.
Many thanks again to the Council, our Borough employees and all the volunteers that serve their community.
God Bless you and God Bless Hasbrouck Heights, HAPPY NEW YEAR.
you for visiting our hometown. Come back soon!