Demarest Mayor Raymond Cywinski
Welcome – January 1, 2012
Happy New Year! I wish each and every one of you a very Happy, Healthy and Prosperous year ahead.
I ask you to offer a silent prayer for all those Demarest residents who have passed away this past year, including Susan Crosby, Ken Parsells, Deborah Stegmayer and Barry Connell, former long-time residents Carlo Mongrandi and Walter Osowski and all residents who lost loved ones in 2011.
I again want to thank Councilwoman Marianne Bolduc and Councilmen Steve Conti and Tom Connolly for their service on this governing body to the community of Demarest. The time they gave of themselves and the sacrifices they made by serving the residents is not insignificant and they are to be recognized for such.
I welcome Councilmen Ted Davis, Steve Schliem and Blake Chroman. I know you will take your responsibilities as representatives of the people seriously and work diligently to best serve the residents and the Borough. I look forward to working with you.
I thank our employees and volunteers for all their work and assistance last year and I look forward to working with our employees and volunteers in 2012. Our volunteers add so much to our community and deserve our thanks and gratitude.
What a year 2011 was. I can just point to Friday’s Record as to the extreme weather conditions we had in 2011 and what we had to deal with – snowstorms from Christmas Day 2010 through February, record annual rainfall, flooding from Hurricane Irene and Tropical Storm Lee and then the October 29 snow storm. (And let us not forget a bit of rock & roll from the earthquake centered in Virginia).
Let me address the branch removal and leaf pick-up after the Oct. 29 storm.
1. We do not have unlimited resources.
2. We hired contractors for two weeks (spending an additional $28,000) to assist in branch removal. I do want to publicly acknowledge Jeff Bellusci of Bellusci Landscaping and James Crimmins of James Crimmins Landscaping, who, after their paid service ended, each donated a truck and an operator to continue removing material from the roadways).
3. We authorized overtime for our public works personnel.
4. We purchased a more efficient and safer chipper.
5. We had to deal with branches mixed in with leaves, leaves mixed in with branches, construction material, rocks, cinder block and other foreign material mixed in with leaves and branches. This affected efficiency and was a safety concern for our workers.
We did our best under the circumstances and we know sometimes it seemed there was no light at the end of the tunnel for our public works personnel as they worked on mountains of branches and leaves at every turn.
For the most part, residents were patient as we addressed the aftermath of the October storm. I thank you for your patience and do acknowledge your frustration, especially when it came to those streets that were and are being the last addressed.
Your council worked hard in 2011 to bring the town’s budget within the 2% tax cap, no easy task when we first looked at the budget numbers. This has proven to be one of the tightest budgets in terms of actual expenditures being very close to revenue. While we will accrue some benefits in 2012 from decisions made in 2011, there is still work to be done to keep expenditures in line with the revenues we have and keeping within the mandated 2% tax cap.
Some of the steps we took in 2011 were:
· Eliminating two part-time positions ($14,000 in 2011 and $32,000 in 2012)
· Not backfilling a position in the DPW when our Superintendent retired ($35,000 in 2011 and $80,000 in 2012)
· No salary raises for non-contractual employees
· Six furlough days for Borough Hall staff and Department of Public Works personnel
· Receiving a cash infusion from the library ($285,000)
· With the decision of the school to have a closed campus at lunch, reducing crossing guard hours ($15,000 in 2011 and $35,000 in 2012)
· Additionally we suspended the open space tax, saving residents $121,000.
We will continue to address your concerns as they arise. We may not have the answer you want to hear, but I think we did respond in a timely matter to your concerns this year.
Looking forward, we need to improve our communication with you, even when we are without power or phone service. That is something we will work on with our Office of Emergency Management.
We completed several major projects this year including the restoration of the Railroad Depot, the Department of Public Works buildings, some mandated sidewalk improvements, paving one unpaved and two paved municipal roads. We worked with Bergen County on paving Hardenburgh and County Roads.
· We do not anticipate any large capital projects in 2012 save for the library completing the addition this month. This will allow us to focus on areas of routine maintenance of our parks & playgrounds, municipal buildings and surroundings.
· We look forward to working with the Demarest Athletic Association as they complete a master plan for Wakelee Field.
· We will continue to investigate and implement shared services with other towns and our schools.
· We fully intend to go forward with our police consolidation study with the Borough of Closter requesting proposals this month.
· I have spoken with the Mayor-Elect of Dumont and we will meet to address the inter-local services agreement for tree pruning services.
· I have already spoken with a Rockland Electric representative as to their planned tree trimming to commence in Demarest during the summer.
· With council approval and working with the Environmental Commission, I have submitted plans for the Tenakill Streambank Stabilization Project to Rutgers. Demarest stands a very good chance of receiving up to $50,000 for this project.
· We will finally have a drop-off location at the DPW for electronics such as computers, TV’s etc. I hope we can also offer a drop-off for metal from our residents. These will hopefully increase our recycling rate.
For the second year I am very happy to say that there have been many residents who contacted me and expressed an interest in serving the Borough. Once again, we have had several more residents to volunteer on boards and commissions than there are positions. In one case I am going to appoint several residents to a Sustainability sub-committee of the Environmental Commission. The Environmental Commission fully supports this initiative.
I hope that 2012 is a very good year for our community and each of you individually.
Thank you for being here today and thank you all for contributing and making our community what it is.