STATE OF THE TOWNSHIP ADDRESS 2014
Council President, members of the Town Council, municipal employees, friends, relatives and fellow residents of Mount Olive, I once again thank you for the opportunity to report on the State of the Township of Mount Olive this year. I am very pleased to advise that Mount Olive continues to move forward as a community in an extremely positive direction. I truly enjoy the honor of being Mayor of this incredible Town and look forward to continuing to guide our Township and instill my vision as to Mount Olive’s future.
Along with the Town Council, we have continued working and have been successful in creating a sense of community and pride in Mount Olive. I would like to thank Colleen Labow for her leadership this past year and look forward to working with John Mania, as Council President in 2014.
We have been diligent in our efforts of attracting new businesses to Mount Olive, as well as working with existing commercial establishments to grow and stabilize our ratable base. At the same time, we have conservatively managed town finances in an effort to control tax increases and those efforts are now showing dividends.
Our efforts of fiscal conservative spending practices and attracting smart ratable growth is now and will for the near future continue to provide dividends to the residents of Mount Olive. Through our efforts, I am extremely pleased that my 2014 budget contains no tax increase for municipal services. In fact, we have a three dollar decrease to the municipal residents in the budget that I have. We’ll be giving it to Council shortly. Even better, looking forward, I am hopeful that the 2015 and 2016 budgets will contain more significant tax decreases for what I anticipate even greater improved level of municipal services. Just to recap that, taxes going down, services going up. That’s what we’re all up here to do.
As an overview, some of our major administrative accomplishments during the 2013 included:
1. Successful business development and outreach Siemens Corporation. Since May of 2012, representatives from the Township of Mount Olive worked side-by-side with the Governor’s office in relation to Siemens Corporation pitting Mount Olive Township, New Jersey against a community in the state of Indiana.
Through the combination of the efforts of Mount Olive personnel in providing education of the demographics and highly educated available workforce and excellence of service in schools and government combined with incentives from the state of New Jersey, Siemens made the choice to allocate their efforts and settle here in Mount Olive. Construction is currently underway and opening is expected in early 2015. At that time, we expect to see an increased tax ratable growth somewhere in the neighborhood of about $500,000.00 per year.
2. Successful business development and outreach Fratelli Beretta Corporation. The Township entered into negotiations with Fratelli Beretta Corporation in the summer of 2013, who was seeking to relocate and establish their national headquarters in New
Jersey. Mount Olive Township representatives were successful in arriving at a framework agreement. Construction is expected to begin in 2014 for a 200,000 square foot facility representing the national headquarters for the corporation. Again, an additional ratable growth in year 2014 or 2015 for the Township.
3. Fleet Services. Early in 2012, it was recognized that there were efficiencies to be gained by examining certain larger operational methods the Township had conducted and identify a better way of conducting business. Fleet operations were analyzed and an operational concept was put into place in 2013. The result was an expected $100,000.00 in savings over the prior year’s expenses by bringing the staffing and operations in house as opposed to the outsourcing as had been conducted in the past.
We expect in house fleet operations to continue its success into the future of 2014 and beyond.
4. Auto Refuse. Again in 2012, it was identified that there were better efficiencies to be achieved by examining how the operations in sanitation could be improved. The plans had been introduced and approved by Council which was to reduce the number of sanitation trucks on the road from 5 to 3 using available automated technology. The plan was implemented in late 2013 and thus far has been successful in town wide trash pick-up. The anecdotal information that I have is that the routes are being completed in a much quicker fashion than they had been previously.
Going into 2014, an effort will be identified and made to provide for an education effort to divert proper recyclables to the recycling stream and away from the solid waste stream. It is anticipated that up to $100,000.00 can be saved through a proper education campaign.
5. Givaudan Braille Trail. In combination with Givaudan Corporation, the plan of establishing a hiking and biking trail with the added bonus and focus of a sensory experience for the sight impaired was initiated and successfully achieved in 2013 along the Morris Canal in the Continental Drive portion of town. The trail, which is beautiful and will see the installation of kiosks in early 2014, is the first of three phases implementing a 3-mile long Braille trail when finally completed.
6. Parks, Buildings & Grounds. Some of Buildings and Grounds accomplishments this year included the installation of the new digital sign in front of the municipal building, installation of the emergency backup generator at senior center, making improvements to infields for baseball and softball fields throughout the town, installing new backboards at Turkey Brook Park, installing emergency throw rope stations around Budd Lake and Turkey Brook Pond, clearing and GPS mapping the White Trail system from Gold Mine Road to Schoolhouse Lane.
Building & Grounds accomplishments also included installing lighting on the practice football field and warm up area, as well as prepared for future lighting of baseball 4, basketball courts and soccer 4 through upgrades in our electrical infrastructure at Turkey
Brook. They created a memorial at the Mount Olive Beach related to the tragic ice incident where we lost two of our youth, re-graded and
seeded the lacrosse field at Turkey Brook, began construction on two lacrosse fields at Drakes Brook Park, created a Braille trail as discussed before, installed new fencing around Dan Jordan Fields (the need for which was due to Superstorm Sandy), installed energy efficient lighting and sensors in the municipal building, created a bird watching area under the power lines at Turkey Brook Park and installed a concession stand for the lacrosse program.
7. Community Beautification. Continuation of the Adopt-A-Spot Program, which included Flanders Park, Turkey Brook Park and Municipal Complex. We expect to even improve the efforts that we have done to date. A lot of this has been through community outreach to the corporations in town and the landscapers in town who have stepped up to the plate and recognize that they are part of this community as well. That’s number eight, Community Outreach.
8. Community Outreach. We combined efforts with multiple Township departments, clergy, local businesses, non-profit organizations and have provided over 40 needy families with gifts and food for the holidays. We conducted community events such as the tree lighting and Hanukah celebration at the municipal complex. We participated in numerous grand openings throughout the Township incorporating the Mayor’s Office, Chamber of Commerce and EDC. We fostered the continuation of the Mayor’s “Open Door Policy” with focus on social media outlets to the public such as newspaper articles, Facebook, Twitter and improving the Township website.
9. Mount Playmore. Something we will all be proud of, Mount Playmore. Design Day was a complete success this past November with the submission of over 300 drawings from our local students and over 200 people attending our Design Reveal Party. Demolition will begin in the next week to begin preparing for the construction of the new Mount Playmore. Our staff is working diligently toward clearing and preparing the grounds for the expanded footprint of the much larger playground that Mount Playmore will provide for our residents. I’m sure when it is completed, we will all be very proud of that effort. It is something which will benefit Mount Olive for years to come.
Through the extremely diligent efforts of the Finance Department, this is going to sound very repetitive because every year the Finance Department, under Sherry’s leadership is exceptional.
1. We received no audit recommendations for 2012 which was our fifth year in a row.
2. We had our highest tax collection rate since 2000………98.94%.
3. We had $241 million in assessment under state court appeal and we settled $199 million with only a $21,000.00 refund.
4. We have $588,000.00 in added assessment for 2013, which exceed our original expectations by $249,000.00.
5. We had no new municipal liens created as a result of our 2013 tax sale.
6. We have $60 million under county tax appeal and we settled with less than a 2% reduction.
7. Our surplus increased by $1,080,000.00 or 37.47% from the beginning to end of 2013. That’s our surplus increased by $1,080,000.00.
8. We maintained our debt rating and our debt level continued to slightly drop from 2012 to 2013….debt rate at 12/31/13 was .729%.
9. We initiated a customer service training session for all Township employees with Kenya Rutland from KJR Consulting, which was well received.
10. We had a state audit conducted on our deduction program covering the years 2008 - 2011 and we received no audit recommendations.
11. We prepared the 2014 budget with no tax increase for our municipal taxpayers.
12. We conducted a water/sewer study which resulted in no new rates increases and our Budd Lake assessment was completed in 2013.
13. We conducted a bond anticipation note sale in 2013 for $3.3 million which resulted in an interest rate of only .64%.
14. On a happy note, Jack Marchione was confirmed as Vice President of the NJ State Assessor’s Association.
15. We continued to write the ADS, AFS and all supplemental debt statements in house to save money on auditing/accounting fees. Once again, kudos to our Finance Department, Sherry you have done a fantastic job and made my life extremely easy in terms of the finances of the Township.
Last year, the Planning Department was actively engaged in a number of projects beyond the typical responsibilities to assist the general public with questions concerning zoning, the enforcement of the Township’s Land Use Ordinance and the preparation of reports for the Planning Board for site plan, subdivision and variance applications. Among the highlights:
1. Planning Board: Master Plan Reexamination Report. The Mount Olive Planning Board conducted a comprehensive Reexamination Report of the 2003 Master Plan and the Township’s land use regulations and adopted the formal Report in June. Among the Report’s findings and recommendations is the need to continue the implementation of Highlands Plan Conformance, modify certain zone districts, establish new Conditional Uses in certain districts for affordable accessory apartments, revise and update the Land
Use Ordinance, and work with Highlands Council on a new Highlands Redevelopment Plan in Budd Lake.
2. NJ State Development & Redevelopment Plan: Planning Area Designation. The Planning Department with assistance from the Township’s engineer and planning consultants successfully instituted map changes to the State Plan Policy Map for two areas in Mount Olive Township. The State Planning Commission approved the amendments to change a portion of Flanders from Planning Area 5 (no growth area) to Planning Area 1 (growth area) facilitating expansion of the Siemens campus in Mount Olive and to modify a section of the International Trade Center/Foreign Trade Zone (including the former BASF complex) from Planning Area 5 to Planning Area 2 (modified growth area) in order to attract reinvestment in this area of the Township.
3. COAH/Affordable Housing. The Township continued in its efforts to acquire the former Cobblestone Nursing home site, to remove the abandoned buildings and redevelop the site with affordable housing consistent with the Township’s COAH requirements. Acquisition of the site and funding for an environmental evaluation and assessment of the existing well for potable water capacity for the proposed development have been financed through the Mount Olive Affordable Housing Trust Fund.
In accordance with a recommendation from the Planning Board to modify the RR-AA and RR-A residential zones to permit a limited number of “accessory apartments” within existing single-family homes to be used exclusively for affordable housing pursuant to the Township’s current “Housing Element and Fair Share Plan” and “Spending Plan”, the Township Council adopted Ordinance 25-2013 to authorize an Accessory Apartment program. A consultant, also funded through the Township’s Affordable Housing Trust Fund, will serve as the Township’s Administrative Agent as required by COAH to implement and manage this effort.
4. NJ Highlands. The Planning Department, in accordance with the terms set forth in a funding grant from the Highlands Council, finalized the key requirements of “Plan Conformance” with the Highlands Regional Master Plan for the 80 percent of the Township falling within the restricted Highlands Preservation Area. This includes the Highlands Preservation Area Ordinance, a Highlands Checklist Ordinance and a Highlands Exemption Ordinance, which is designed to assist residents and property owners within the Preservation Area to secure certain exemption determinations from Highlands regulations from Planning Department staff rather than submit to the lengthy process otherwise required by NJDEP.
The Planning Department and the Township’s planning consultant secured an $85,000 grant from the Highlands Council in September to prepare a Highlands Redevelopment Plan for a section of Route 46 within the Highlands Preservation Area. The Redevelopment Area consists of some 17 properties including the five acre Municipal Beach and former Municipal Building/Public Works site as its focal point. The ultimate objective is to create a new Lake Development District to revitalize the commercial and
recreational potential within this area while simultaneously introducing new standards for environmental protection of the lake environs.
In 2013, the Building Department was incredibly busy and worked diligently to provide all services required related to the issuing of permits and providing required inspection services related to fees new development and/or construction in Mount Olive, as well as projects involving homeowner remodeling. The Building
Department exceeded its expected generation by bringing in over $791,444.00 in fees and looks forward to another active year in 2014. In fact, it’s my opinion, based upon my forecasting, that the Building Department will continually see increases for the next several years in terms of inspection fees and permit fees that are coming in based upon the developments that I see being built in Mount Olive over the next three years.
During the period of January 1, 2013 to December 31, 2013, the building Department issued a total of 1,454 plus 310 updated permits. The department had a total of 5196 inspections: 1711 for building, 1,433 for electrical, 1,380 for plumbing and 572 for fire.
In 2013, the Municipal Court, working on behalf of both Mount Olive and Netcong residents, received over 430 criminal complaints and 6,000 motor vehicle tickets. The court generated over $300,000.00 in fees for the Township. In January 2013 the Municipal Court began using telephonic interpretation in the courtroom, in eight difference languages, Spanish and Mandarin Chinese being the most common.
The Health Department:
Successfully re-negotiated two Interlocal Shared Services Agreements for the next 3 years with the Borough of Netcong and the Borough of Mount Arlington.
Negotiated a Shared Services Agreement with Byram Township for Animal Control services.
They also entered into a memorandum of agreement for animal control coverage during the day with the Borough of Hopatcong.
They delivered 40 Thanksgiving Food Baskets.
They delivered 40 Christmas Food Baskets and Christmas gifts to 45 needy families in Mount Olive.
Something I am very proud of, once again, we took first place in the Morris County Mc Match Competition by generating 7,128 lbs of donated product for the needy.
The Public Health Nursing aspect of the Health Department:
Developed an Excel data base in collaboration with Mount Olive Township Police Department identifying our at risk senior population during times of emergency and emergency preparedness.
They developed a Health Department Facebook page with updates on timely public health announcements, health alerts and credible health promotional information of a timely nature.
Child Health Care included 107 visits from parents/children, providing guidance on health, vaccination and available resources through the Township and the County. They provided a total of 840 influenza vaccinations including the communities that we serve.
They also investigated 186 reported communicable disease cases, as well as provided Health Screenings in both the spring and fall.
The Health Department also expanded senior transportation to include activities every day and not limited to delivery of meals, medicals, etc. but all senior activities and needs.
They also expanded transportation services for the disabled individuals young or older for all activities, social, medical, meals, and shopping.
Our Animal Control Officer, Frank Nelson, was awarded “runner-up” Emmett Brown Achievement Award from Administration for developing a “lost and found” segment for lost animals on the Township’s web page and other social media for animal control issues, lost animals, for public and animal events as well as public notices received and sent throughout the year.
ACO Nelson also became a Certified Animal Cruelty Investigator and has been certified in “Remote Chemical Immobilization of Animals” that are difficult or dangerous to apprehend.
Nelson was also faced with the “hoarding” of cats situation this year in Mount Olive that was successfully mitigated. All animals were adopted out with assist of Mount Olive Township TNR group.
In 2013 the Fire Marshall’s Office:
They conducted over 1,183 inspections in Mount Olive and in Chester Borough in the year 2013. This includes all of the apartment buildings in Mt Olive. They appear in the system as one inspection, but actually involve over 300 buildings.
The Fire Marshall’s have been called out over 30 times after hours for fire scene investigations.
The Fire Marshall’s office successfully entered into another Shared Service Agreement with the Town of Hackettstown with projected revenue of at least $50,000.00.
Just to let you know I am on page 15 of 21, if that makes a difference to anybody.
The Recreation Department had many successes in 2013.
Recreation ran 21 special events, 10 of which were new, including but not limited to Mt Olive Week Carnival, Raiders of the Lost Park Mud Run, Fall in Love With Mt. Olive Weekend, Farmer’s Market, MOPL Fall Fest, Tour de Mt Olive and Wine Tasting event, and Strut Your Mutt event.
In addition to the events, Recreation collected $75,000.00 in sponsorships received from 129 area businesses.
New classes were offered in fitness, cooking, art, career coaching and leadership.
This year, Recreation already has tentatively planned:
Restaurant Week in January 27-31 and October 20-24
Mount Playmore Ribbon cutting set for April 6
Do or Dye Fun Run/Walk on April 26
Summer Entertainment Series – Movies in the Park (Turkey Brook) July 20, 27 and August 3
Paddleboard 5K added to the Budd Lake Beach Regatta July 7
Tour de Mount Olive September 28
Bike & Hike Trail Stomp October 10 and 11.
The Public Works Department successfully maintained and improved Township owned infrastructure. They also had have had several substantial accomplishments for the 2013 year.
1. 2013 saw the Township bring our fleet services back in house. This has been an outstanding decision since we’ve cut fleet budget by close to $100,000.00. We have a top notch Fleet Supervisor that continues to keep the fleet rolling, proper preventative maintenance service and scheduling, evaluation of equipment and the need for replacements. The Fleet Department has been exceptional during emergency and storm events by keeping the fleet on the roads. I can also tell you that anecdotally the Police Department has been extremely happy with our in house fleet maintenance.
2. The introduction of the one arm bandit solid waste trucks and the distributing of waste cans to the residents of Mt. Olive Township. The new packers have replaced the older rear loader models. This change will be more efficient in our daily pick up operations and have a major role in the decline of work related injuries. We will be able to cut our daily manpower needs and relocate those employees to other areas of work within the Township.
3. Demolition and construction of a new well house within the Indian Springs/Alcrest water system. The new structure replaced the dilapidated two separate structures to combine all treatment and controls under one roof. The new structure also includes a backup generator for power outage issues to allow continual flow of water to the residents of the Mt. Olive Sandshore system.
4. Road resurfacing has included sections of Smithtown Road, Drakestown Road (nanny goat hill), Ironia Road. State grants for road resurfacing will combine 2013 and 2014 to cover International Drive South.
5. Community Development Grant has allowed the Township to install storm drainage to areas of town suffering from storm water issues. Waterloo Road with Linda Ave, Woodland Ave, Lozier Road at a cost of over $50,000.00.
The Township, as we always do, has continued to improve all aspects related to Information Technology, including better security at the Municipal Building and Turkey Brook Park.
Scott was also responsible for re-negotiation of our Verizon Wireless plan saving the town $5,516.33 in 2013. He also brought on Barracuda offsite data storage saving thousands of dollars, as well as helped establish and get up and running the new Fleet garage.
In 2013, the Police Department had both a significant call load and administrative matters to handle. As we all know, on February 14, 2013; the Mount Olive Police Department was accredited by the New Jersey State Association of Chiefs of Police (NJSACOP). This was in recognition of the Police Department having fulfilled the best practice standards established by the association for accreditation. On March 23, 2013; the Mount Olive Police Department was further accredited through the Commission of Accreditation for Law Enforcement Agencies (CALEA) Recognition Program. This was the culmination of two and a half year effort and a grant from the Morris County Joint Insurance Fund.
The Police Department submitted three Township Resolutions that were sent to NJDOT for requested traffic safety improvements.
Sidewalk improvements to Route 46 in the vicinity of #3.
Re-striping of Route 206 in the vicinity of Benjamin Moore.
Re-engineering of the intersection of Route 46/Smithtown-Wolfe Roads.
A cooperative effort between the Land Conservancy of New Jersey, New Jersey Green Acres, New Jersey Water Supply Authority, Morris County Municipal Utilities Authority, the Mount Olive Department of Public Works and the Police Department has resulted in improved sight-distance at the intersection of Route 46 and Wolfe Road. This was the result of tree and brush cutback and re-grading of the roadside property.
Two additional “Pedestrian Crossing” signs were placed on Wolfe Rd.
The Police Department upgraded to the Enforsys Blue Computer Aided Dispatch (C.A.D.) and Records Management System (R.M.S.) to better integrate all emergency services.
An Automatic License Plate Reader was purchased and installed with a grant obtained by the Morris County Prosecutor’s Office.
The Police Department has upgraded our property and evidence storage with the recent acquisition of the B.E.A.S.T. (Bar Coded-Evidence-Analysis-Statistical-Tracking). This system allows property and evidence to be tracked from collection through disposition and destruction via a computer based paperless application. This system will put us in line with other agencies that have been and is currently using a computer based evidence tracking system.
The receiver site at Hackettstown Hospital was upgraded to improve radio communications.
Police assisted with the install and upgrade of the Township’s new Triad Security System.
Public and secure WiFi access was added to the Police Department.
The Township Emergency Operations Center (E.O.C.) received structural improvements, as well as the addition of a “Smart Board”. The board allows us to link with the Morris County Emergency Operations Center in real time. New phone banks and emergency power were added to the EOC, as well.
Givaudan donated funds for the purchase of an ice rescue sled. This is maintained at Station 21 Rescue and is available to emergency personnel.
With respect to Calls for Service/Investigations:
The Mount Olive Police Department handled 76,870 calls for service in 2013. This is a ten percent increase over calls for service handled in 2012. Calls of note during 2013 were:
On January 7th, 2013, at approximately 6:30 p.m., police officers responded to the vicinity of Sandshore Road and Church Street for a report of persons having fallen through the ice. Despite the best efforts of responding emergency personnel, they were unable to save the victims: Clyde Shimanski and Nicholas Cianciotto, two 15 year old friends who had gone ice fishing.
On February 18th, 2013, officers responded to 56 Main Street in the Flanders section of town. Despite the best efforts of police and emergency responders, the fire claimed the lives of 7 year old Cristiano Bonner and 52 year old Hesham Moustafa.
On January 10th, 2013, at approximately 1 a.m., officers interrupted a burglary in progress at the Country Store on Route 46. Michael Cramer, age 42, of Budd Lake was arrested.
On October 22nd, 2013, at 3:17 p.m., officers were called to a residence on Sandshore Road where a homeowner had come home to see someone fleeing from her residence. In less than 10 minutes officers located the offender with the stolen items still in his possession. Charged with burglary, theft and related crimes was Zachary Temple, 23 years of age, from Long Valley.
Officers saved the lives of three persons actively engaged in ending their lives by suicide during the months of March, May and July.
Officers saved the lives of two persons using the defibrillator in February and September.
Other call types and response numbers for 2013 were:
Ambulance Assists: 1,441
Criminal Mischief: 62
Domestic Disputes: 176
Domestic Violence: 88
Noise Complaints: 257
Traffic Collisions: 1,037
The Police Department was in receipt of a large number of firearms applications as well. During the course of 2013, 359 firearms applicant investigations were completed.
Police Officers conducted 11,209 checks of businesses, 3,240 residential checks, and performed 29,737 directed patrols.
Mount Olive Police made 875 criminal arrests in 2013. In addition, as of the beginning of December, 126 arrests were made for D.W.I. and 4,093 motor vehicle summons were issued.
What I have included in this address is only a small sampling of what our Township Departments and employees accomplished over the course of the last year. Let us not forget that they are on the front line everyday working to make Mount Olive a better safer place to live. To that end, I congratulate all of the employees in all of the successes of 2013 and look forward to greater achievements in 2014.
As we move forward into 2014 and beyond, we have many things to look forward to. We can also take pride in the MOMENTUM the Township has and continues to generate. I can’t tell you how many people stop to tell me that they love living in Mount Olive.
I would like to thank the Town Council, our Business Administrator, Sean Canning and all of our municipal employees for a job well done in 2013. May you all have a happy, healthy and prosperous New Year.
Sincerely and with great appreciation,
Mayor, Mount Olive Township.