March 2011

My thanks go out to all those volunteers who continue to serve our town on the boards and commissions, the fire department, ambulance corps and recreation programs. Several members decided to not seek reappointment in 2011. Both Mario Di Gia (Planning Board) and Steven Shur (Zoning Board) each served for over 20 years. They deserve thanks from all the residents of Demarest for their selfless service to our town. I also extend my thanks to Kevin McDermott (Shade Tree Commission), Carlos Molina (Planning Board), Doreen McCullough and Kwang Suk Kim (Zoning Board), Jan Miller & Del Carpenter (Library Board) and Ruthellen Fried (Board of Health) for their service to Demarest. Seven residents were reappointed to their respective boards and commissions, along with 14 new board and commission members being appointed. The new members have expressed a keen desire to serve and I’m sure they will be an asset to our town.

At the risk of offending those winter aficionados, I hope we are finished with snowstorms for the rest of this season! The Department of Public Works employees have excelled at keeping our roads safe during and after the many snowstorms we have had this winter. I took the opportunity after a January storm to ride in a plow truck and experience firsthand the skill and dedication of our employees in keeping the roads clear of snow. Yes, this is one of their responsibilities, but I have seen the pride they demonstrate in their work. For this I thank them. As we go to print we are working on the budget for 2011. The current economy, the new 2% cap on property taxes (with some notable exclusions), prior contractual cost increases, deferred expenses from 2010; all will present a challenge in our efforts to at least stabilize taxes. I will continue to be a strong proponent of fiscally responsible expenditures. Some of these efforts include but are not limited to: Eliminating a part-time position at a saving of nearly $15,000 per year. (I was disappointed that four council members voted to keep this redundant position, created just three years ago. The responsibilities with this position lie with the police & construction departments.) Investigating alternate companies for the Borough’s web site services anticipating approximately $10,000 per year in savings. Renegotiating certain services & contracts.

Discussions with employees for reducing expenditures without jeopardizing current services. Taxes and the new electric sign, two issues that many residents have expressed their opinions about. These two items, although quite different, are on the “front burner”. Two advisory groups of residents are working with me on these issues and I look forward to receiving recommendations regarding the sign and I anticipate the council, employees and volunteers working together will present a fiscally responsible budget. I welcome your input on these issues as well as any other town issue and I welcome your suggestions for reducing expenditures and suggestions as to services that we may consider providing.

I thank you for the confidence you have placed in me as we move Demarest forward. I will keep you informed of any major initiative, through our website and printed media. At the same time, I ask that you keep informed on current events in town. Certainly, a major initiative we will be thoroughly investigating is shared or merged services. As we proceed down this road, we will have meetings where every resident will have the opportunity to voice their opinions well before any final decision is made.

Raymond Cywinski
201-767-7441 (Evenings and weekends)