2016 Mayors Town Address
2016 Mayor’s Town Address
As I commence my fourth term as your Mayor with both exuberance and humility, I want to express my sincere gratitude to everyone who supported my campaign for re-election. While preparing this address and reflecting upon all that occurred in 2015, our community can have great pride in our accomplishments this past year and for our future plans for 2016.
2015 was a productive and successful year in Dover. For the tenth consecutive year we delivered a balanced budget with increased municipal services with minimal tax implications. Dover continues to lead Morris County with the lowest taxes of any full service community. That trend will continue in 2016. Among our many successes in 2015 were the construction and introduction of our recreation fields, where our children now have a place to participate in organized sports. Another great success was the establishment of our very first community center located at the Father Connelly Center on Richards Ave, where all of our residents can benefit from a wide variety of recreational programs.
Transparency and communication are the keys to any successful government. In 2015, the Board of Aldermen made a commitment to improve communication. To that end, our new Variable Message Boards are operational and providing much needed information to the public. Additionally, we have ramped up social media efforts and will continue to reach out to our residents through every available source of media in 2016. We also realize that not all of our residents have the ability to use technology; therefore, we continue to make every effort to reach out to residents through the use of alternate communications methods including bi annual Town newsletter and other mailings.
In my 2015 State of the Town Address, I stated that we would make great strides in my comprehensive plans for economic development and quality of life. In keeping with that commitment, we have come much closer to breaking ground on our first major redevelopment project, with only a few minor details to resolve before we have a shovel in the ground. As we see our first project to fruition, we are currently in negotiations on our second and third redevelopment endeavors. Our second extended stay hotel is currently under construction. Once completed this 102 room Marriott, which is located on our former landfill, will provide revenue both from property taxes and from a reoccurring occupancy tax.
Late In 2015 the Board established a new Licensing Department that has the authority to oversee taxis and limousines, garage sales, and coin operated devices. This department is responsible for insuring compliance with our Town Ordinances for safety purposes. For example, this department inspects taxis and limos for compliance with child seat requirements along with other statutory requisites. This department also collects licensing and other fees and in that way helps to cover its costs.
In our ongoing commitment to improve Public Safety, we have made great strides in the organization and output of our police department. We have recently restructured our police department to put more officers on the streets, where they can best protect and serve our community. Recently I appointed a new Public Safety Director, Mr. Dominick Saldida who is with us here today. Mr. Saldida has over 25 years of experience in law enforcement and brings extensive knowledge to our community and is a true professional. Additional hires include 6 new officer candidates who will enter the academy this month and shall be on our streets this June. I asked these new officer candidates to come here today to be part of our commitment to our community, they are:
Raziel Aragon Jonathan Echevarria
IImi Bojkovic Joel Gotera
Christopher Carig Mario Tamariz
Additionally, we have begun the process of hiring an additional 6 more special police officers who will have a daily presence in our downtown business district to assist in our quality of life commitment. This administration’s commitment to public safety has never wavered and will only get stronger.
The enhancements to our police department include this Board’s insistence about the re-introduction of a Community Policing model. Community policing involves many different components. In the spring residents will see bicycle patrols in our downtown and in each Ward.
Our goal is to achieve a relationship between our Police Department and our residents in which we establish much needed dialogue.
Most of you have heard of the DARE Program, which is no longer in effect and has been replaced with the Lead Program (Law Enforcement Against Drugs). This year our police department will be instituting the Lead Program. This program delivers a strong, reasoned and effective anti-substance abuse message. Our officers are exemplary role models who will form trusting and supportive relationships, not just with a child, but with the family. Their physical presence provides protection for children, while they are in school and their team building events foster a healthy and lasting partnership that transcends the school environment. At the conclusion of the year, the child will be better prepared, the family will be more informed, new relationships will exist and many fond memories will have surrounded the concept of drug-free living.
One important aspect includes a School Resource Officer Program wherein a patrolman would be assigned to each school to ensure the safety of our children and school personnel and to conduct crime prevention programs. We will continue to attempt to enter into a dialogue with the school’s administration on these important safety issues that affect our children’s lives each and every day.
The Board also approved a Municipal Identification Card Program, wherein each resident over the age of fourteen will be able to obtain an official Dover photo ID card, which will be proof of residence in our Town. Future plans for that program include a child identification card that parents can present if a child is lost and voluntary inclusion of emergency medical information that Emergency Medical Technicians and other medical personnel can utilize to provide the best possible treatment.
This year while we explore the return of in house dispatch, we have also given much thought to the physical space of the police department. To make the area more open, welcoming and friendly to our residents, we will renovate the public portion and keep it operational from 8:00 am to midnight seven nights a week, 365 days per year. Eventually, our goal is to expand operational hours to twenty-four so there will always be a time that a resident can speak directly to a member of the department.
Economic Development is the backbone to our success, and that’s why at this year I will be creating a new Department of Community Affairs and Economic Development. We are currently in the process of hiring a Director that has many years of experience not only in Economic Development but is also skilled in Management, Community Relations and outreach and Information Technology. This Department will be responsible for Intergovernmental and Constituent Affairs, Redevelopment, the newly created Special Improvement District, Strategic Economic Development Planning, Commerce Relations, Workforce Development, Local Business, Industry and Retail Development, Town Marketing and Promotion Management, and the new director will be expected to develop and administer small business programs, vacant property and brownfield management, business relocation and develop and administer a new Farmers Market. Further responsibilities will include Community Development Block Grants, Housing Grant Writing, Communications and Public Information, Social Media, Websites, Press Releases and our Everbridge Reverse 911 System.
At one time, Dover had trolleys that transported people throughout our downtown. In 2016, I will give this new Department the task of investigating bringing back that concept with a modern twist. I will ask the new director to conduct a needs assessment to determine the viability of operating a public jitney that people can utilize for a nominal fee to travel between destinations, thus reducing the congestion caused by taxis and limos that are protected by state law.
The Board has already started the process of restructuring of our Department of Public Works. With respect to personnel, we expect to introduce a new Director in the coming weeks who has over twenty-five years of experience in the field. We have also recently hired five new workers. To increase efficiency, we will institute a new system of formal schooling, which includes both classroom instruction and on the job training for all of our DPW employees to ensure that every member of the department has a basic understanding of every departmental function.
For our employees to be able to meet our expectations, we have to provide them with the necessary tools. To that end, the Board approved the purchase of brand new state of the art equipment, which includes a new backhoe, a new bucket truck, and several new dump trucks. Within the DPW, we will also establish a new streets and roads division with a new crack sealing crew responsible for maintaining our streets and roads, reducing and filling potholes, and crack sealing to extend the life expectancy of our continued capital investments in the milling and paving of our streets.
2016 will be the “Year of the Senior”
My passion for seniors is influenced by my belief in the rights of individuals and the need to protect older persons’ ability to lead dignified, meaningful, and healthy lives as equal members of our community. It’s for this reason that we will be expanding our services for seniors in 2016, which will include: a senior health fair, additional recreational trips and excursions, a Senior Prom to be held at the Father Connelly Community Center, and many more programs to come. The Board will also begin a program to formally recognize milestone birthdays for our seniors in Town at ages 80, 85, 90, 95, 100 and hopefully many more.
In closing, I want to reassure everyone that this Board has made great strides in making our Community a better place to live, work and raise a family and our commitment will never rest in the continued effort to make our hometown even better. It really is about the people, who with great pride, call Dover home.
I want to recognize my Administration and hardworking employees of the Town of Dover, because behind the scenes they make things happen. It’s easy for me to sit here, deliver a speech and have a vision, but these are the individuals who bring that vision to reality. They are true professionals. I know I’m not the easiest person to work for (I demand the best effort and results for the residents of the Town of Dover), but each and every day our staff goes above and beyond to make each and every one of us proud.
I want to thank each one of these Aldermen sitting up here today for their time and effort in representing the residents of our community and supporting my vision. Their support and hard work make my job easier.
As you can clearly see, your Board of Aldermen and our Town employees have been very busy honoring our history and our traditions while breaking new ground in 2015---and that momentum will continue in 2016.
I thank you for your time and attention and, as always, I am honored and humbled by your trust in me to serve you as your Mayor. Happy New Year!