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, 2016.
At the outset, I want to thank the residents of Mount Olive for electing me to lead this Town as Mayor for another four years. I am very excited about where we have come from in my first term as Mayor and where we are going in my second term.
Of course, everything we have achieved would not have been possible but for the work and support of the Governing Body. I would like to thank Joe Nicastro for his leadership in 2015 and look forward to working with him again next year in 2016. I congratulate Joe on his appointment to a second term as Council President and thank him and the rest of the Town Council for their support and tireless effort to attend as many events in Town as possible.
Through our conservative financial management, smart spending, and our efforts of attract new businesses to Mount Olive, for the third consecutive year, the budget that I will be submitting to the Council will have no tax increase. I am also satisfied and pleased to report that the surplus regeneration projections for 2017 leave the Township in a sound fiscal position for next year’s budget.
As you all know, this year we will be starting and completing the splash pad up at Turkey Brook Park. This project was entirely funded in last year’s budget. In 2016, rather than spending significant money on recreation improvements, we will be focusing on infrastructure maintenance, namely road repaving in areas of Town which sorely need a fresh coat of asphalt. The budget I am submitting to Council this year will include an allocation for four times the amount of money which I have normally allocated to fix the roads in Town.
During my first term as Mayor, the Township was fortunate to have strong leadership provided by our business administrator, Sean Canning. I feel equally as confident that our new business administrator Laura Harris will provide the same level of leadership and dedication that Sean provided the Township under his stewardship.
When this administration took office in January of 2012, we recognized that there was a disconnect between the municipal government and the residents. This was all due to the failure of the government to adequately communicate with the residents. One of the greatest successes that we had during my first Mayoral term was to fix the communication problem.
In 2015, through Facebook, radio, newspaper, signs, flyers and any other media we could think of, we have communicated over 6,500 announcements, events, programs, pet adoptions, and job opportunities. We continue to inform our residents as well as those residents in the surrounding towns – Our reach has increased between 12,000-21,000 people weekly. Mount Olive continues to be the point location for developers, Chamber of Commerce, County College of Morris, and Morris County, leading always by example. We have set the standards high and continue to think outside of the box to welcome many more eating establishments, businesses and families to move into Mount Olive Township.
The administration also continues to work with existing and new businesses through our outreach program to truly make Mount Olive business friendly.
We are also diligently working on development matters in the Trade Zone which may positively impact the Town for years to come. We are also working with the Board of Education on joint opportunities to improve Town facilities.
Our Finance Department once again had major accomplishments in 2015. In addition to allowing me to submit a 2016 municipal budget without a tax increase, some of the Finance Department’s accomplishments included:
- No audit recommendations for the 2014 audit. This was the seventh year in a row with no audit recommendations.
- A tax collection rate which is currently 98.75%. We expect to meet last year’s rate of 99.11%
- An increase in 2016 NVT by over $35 million from 2015.
- Minimal state tax court appeals with only 9.
- Successfully defended 103 county appeals resulting in 67 complaints being withdrawn and only a 3.7% net reduction in total assessments appealed.
- Received added/omitted assessment revenue of $1,639,000 of which $1,479,000 was the Township’s portion.
- Issued debt at an all-time low of .65% and refunded 2005/2006 bonds and saved the Township approximately $175,000.
As in past years, the Parks, Buildings & Grounds division of Administration had many events, projects and normal routine maintenance in 2015 which kept them quite busy. The department added two full time staff members in 2015 and saw productivity increase from 1,681 work orders in 2014 to nearly 4,000 work orders in 2015. Significant accomplishments and events for the department included:
- 21 recreation events.
- Hosted softball and baseball tournaments on District, State and Regional levels. These tournaments filled local hotels and eateries as well allowing guests from up to seven states to experience the level of excellence which our facilities present.
- Hosted the second largest “Food Trucks and Fireworks” festival in northwestern NJ. An estimated 8,000 – 10,000 people attended.
- Hosted the annual Mt. Olive Week Carnival.
- Hosted the MOPD Corn Hole Tournament.
- Hosted the 26th annual Mount Olive Soccer Club Tournament.
- Designed and build characters for the holiday display at the Mt. Olive Municipal Complex.
- Decorated and manage the annual Christmas tree and Chanukah lighting ceremonies.
- Hosted the third annual Mount Olive Lacrosse Club tournament.
- Maintained 2,000 acres of Open Space, historic structures and municipal infrastructure.
- Continued to expand and maintain the trail network and added kiosks to trails.
The Information Technology Department under the leadership of Scott Gaskill lowered our operating expense through increased vigilance over outside IT service providers of tens of thousands of dollars. In addition some of the projects which, Scott oversaw and implemented included the:
- Buyout the remaining months on our Avaya maintenance contract which covers our current PBX phone system
- Installation of new switches and IP based phones for all township employees.
- Supply of virtual voice mailboxes for all township employees.
- The installation of an add-on surveillance system at Turkey Brook consisting of 21 cameras located at the maintenance garage, park fields, tot lot, park entrance/exit ways, and some parking areas.
The Department of Public Works had substantial accomplishments for the 2015 year. These included:
- 2015 road resurfacing consisting of replacement of drainage, 14 cross drains, 21 storm drains, 12, 000 linear feet of drain pipe and resurfacing of 6000 feet of lower River Road with section widening and a new retaining wall. Other resurfacing covered Main Street in Flanders, Crease Road and a section of Sand shore Road.
- Removal of over 100 dead or hazardous trees from the township right of way. Cleared 3 overgrown retention basins with new bobcat brush hog equipment.
- Sanitation successfully established garbage collection within Chester Borough, including household dumpster service and large item pickup. The large item sticker program has had a revenue return of over $25,000.
- Revamped the residential recycling center to be more resident friendly for drop off recycling materials.
- The Water Department has installed a low water monitoring system on the Oakwood Water system which will be expanded to all township water systems in 2016.
- WQe also acquired the Morris Chase water system from American water to lower residential water rates on that system and to assist in water supply within the Goldmine estates water area
- DPW installed a 300,000 gallon holding tank at the Flanders sewer plant for additional holding capacity at the plant to allow the construction of the Regency at Flanders.
Fleet Maintenance accomplishments included:
- Continuation of the Fleet Master Plan established in 2014 that eliminates older costlier vehicles and replaces them with more efficient and more dependable vehicles.
- Improved upon the “truck boilerplate “developed in 2014 that will continue to streamline parts ordering and labor times. This will result in lowered operating costs for years to come.
- Fleet staffing levels that have been brought to their optimum levels. With the hiring of a technician that has transmission experience, we will be able to keep even more work in house and continue to strive towards 100% in-house repairs.
- Both of the Senior Transit vehicles were replaced and will provide a much superior experience for our riders.
- Made repairs in-house on one of our street sweepers that resulted in a savings of over $100,000.
The Recreation Department held 18 special events in 2015 with more than 47,000 attendees, 122 business sponsors and over 100 volunteers. Eight new events debuted, which included the Snow & Ice Party, Lego Festival, Wet & Wild, Touch-a-Truck, Food Trucks & Fireworks, Starry Skies Craft Beer and Wine Festival and the Blanket & Coat Drive. Popular favorites were also held – the Do or Dye Color Run, Power Wheels Race Series, Fairy & Pirate Festival, Raiders of the Lost Park Mud Run, Mt. Olive Week Carnival, three Movies in the Park, Monster Mash 3K and CandyLand.
3,151 adults participated in 119 programs and 3,155 children participated in 160 programs during the year. Over 20 summer camps were held in July and August.
Budd Lake Park has a new accessible Fishing Dock. Equishare at Valley Brook is making improvements to Valley Brook Park, to develop an equestrian center.
On March 10, 2015, the township received an award for Excellence in Design for Mount Playmore from the New Jersey Recreation and Park Association.
For 2016, five new events are planned. We are all looking forward to the opening of the Pirates Cove at Mount Playmore Splash Park and several new technology based programs for children.
The Planning Department was actively engaged in a number of projects in 2015 beyond the typical responsibilities to assist the general public with questions concerning zoning and enforcement of the Township’s Land Use Ordinance.
Site plan applications approved by the Planning Board in 2015 included: use variance/site plan approval to utilize a building on Sand Shore Road as a microbrewery; use variance/site plan approval was granted to construct a service station at the intersection of Sand Shore Road and Route 46; two separate site plan applications involved the construction of automobile dealerships on Route 46 and Harris Lane and the Board granted preliminary site plan and use variance approval to construct a second two story office building at 354 Route 46.
Rezoning is proposed for FTZ-4 district, including the former BASF complex to permit residential use. New mixed-use and residential development is anticipated.
The Mount Olive Municipal Court in 2015, accepted a total of 334 indictable charges, 924 disorderly persons offense charges, 430 local ordinance violations, 144 DWI charges and 5,911 other traffic charges for filing. In the same time period we disposed of 977 disorderly persons offenses, 457 local ordinance violations, 143 DWI charges and 5,935 other traffic charges.
The Health Department
Environmental, Consumer, and Occupational Health
- Revised and updated the following ordinances
- Chapter 160, Noise (updated ordinance to meet new State requirements
- Chapter 284, Food Handling Establishments (employees of Risk Level 2 food establishments are now required to pass food handler safety training course
- Chapter 312, Article 3, Health Certificates (individual sewage disposal system inspections no longer required at sale of property)
- Developed and introduced a new ordinance for massage parlors/body art businesses, which allowed the Health Department to close two establishments for violations
- Conducted over 1,000 apartment rental inspections
- Drafted 14 policies and procedures for routine responsibilities
- The staff obtained certification in Noise Enforcement
- Entered into a shared services agreement with Washington Township to provide Animal Control services
- Prosecuted 3 dangerous dog cases
- Obtained and outfitted a new ACO vehicle
Public Health Nursing
- Obtained training to respond to and monitor suspect Ebola cases
- Monitored resident travelers from Ebola endemic areas
- Investigated and controlled disease in 223 residents, including cases of meningitis, pertussis, malaria, toxic shock, and food borne illness
- Provided health education to residents to prevent transmission of identified West Nile Virus
- Provided health education in sleep apnea, stress reduction, mental health, falls prevention, and oral health
- Free screenings were provided to residents for stroke, skin cancer, male and female cancers, diabetes, and cholesterol
- 734 blood pressure screenings
- 54 immunizations administered to uninsured resident children
- 9 community flu clinics and on-going walk-in clinics, resulting in the immunization of over 400 residents
- Purchased a new bus and van to enhance the Senior Transportation program
- A record 60+ children received gifts through our holiday gift giving program
- Issued 135 Marriage Licenses
- Issued 175 Certified Copies.
The Building Department collected approximately $498,000 in fees with the Township receiving approximately $462,000 of the fees. The Department issued 1,315 permits, 189 updated permits. There were 4,231 inspections for 2015, 1652 Building, 986 electrical, 486 fire and 1107 plumbing.
The Fire Marshall’s Office
- 100% Completion for all life hazard buildings for Mount Olive, Hackettstown and Chester.
- 100% Completion for all non-hazard businesses in Mount Olive.
- Completion for life hazard uses, non-life hazard uses and smoke detectors tests that totaled 1,865 for Mount Olive.
- Completion for life hazard uses, non-life hazard uses and smoke detectors tests that totaled 851 for Hackettstown.
- Completion for life hazard uses, non-life hazard uses and smoke detectors tests that totaled 268 for Chester.
The Police Department
- On November 15th and 16th the police department underwent a reaccreditation inspection process by the New Jersey State Association of Chiefs of Police Assessment Team. We have been advised the police department performed extremely well. Accreditation Manager Sgt. Michael Cordileone; and his assistants Lt. Michael Spitzer and Cpl. Eric Anthony led the effort. Formal accreditation is expected to take place early in 2016.
- Nasal Narcan has been deployed in all of the front line patrol cars. Narcan helps prevent opioid overdoses by blocking the effects of this class of drug. Opioids include heroin, codeine, oxycodone, methadone and Vicodin. It allows to stabilize the person overdosing until the arrival of Medics and transportation to a hospital.
- The Detective Bureau developed a Field Training Module on investigations for new recruits. New officers Pagonis, Saunders, Reynolds, and Carney have received the training.
- The Mt Olive Police Department ran testing and selection details for records clerk, dispatcher and police officer. This entailed over 500 contacts with civilians seeking employment.
- As a result of arrests, Detectives seized approximately $20,000 and seized three (3) cars.
- Detectives assisted the Mount Olive Middle School by helping with their annual STEM class program. A program designed to provide learning experiences for summer students.
- Captain Beecher conducted Active Shooter Training for the Mt. Olive Community Advisory Panel and Chamber of Commerce.
- Sgt. Carlstrom and Officer Wurtemberg received the Program Development Award for their role in developing and implementing the Narcan Program.
- Cpl. Groblewski received the Honorable Service Award for her actions in preventing a male from jumping out of a moving ambulance on January 20th.
- Officers Barrier and Carletta received the Honorable Service Award for locating a subject on January 29th prior to his killing himself by electrocution.
- Officer Bevacqua and Hering received a Life Saving Award for their actions in saving a blind man from an apartment fire on February 5th.
- Officer Jadue received a Life Saving Award for rescuing a woman from a house fire on April 28th.
- Officers Hatzel, Grimm and Spotts received a Life Saving Award for their actions on May 23rd in saving a woman who had overdosed on “Molly”.
- DSgt. Sanchez, Detectives Zarro and Krouse, and Officers Barrier and Saunders received an Honorable Service Award for their actions on June 3rd which led to the arrest of a subject trying to lure a female into a vehicle.
- Lt. Lucivero, DSgt. Sanchez, Officers Elbaum and Saunders received the Honorable Service Award for their efforts in locating a subject in possession of a stolen pickup truck. This subject also committed numerous burglaries in the Budd Lake/Hackettstown area. Subject was arrested on July 8th.
- DCpl. Casaletto received the Honorable Service Award for locating a subject who had slit their wrists and run off into a wooded area on October 13th.
- On twenty (20) different occasions the department received letters from citizens thanking seventeen (17) different Officers for the service they provided.
Calls for Service/Statistics
As of December 15, 2015:
- Communications and Police Officers handled approximately 77,050 calls for service.
- Records Clerks processed 2,200 investigations reports, 790 supplemental reports, and 730 arrest reports.
As of December 1st, call types and response numbers for uniformed officers included but were not limited to:
- Alarms: 1259
- Ambulance Assists: 1256
- Assaults: 73
- Auto Theft: 4
- Burglaries: 53
- Business Checks: 13,014
- Criminal Mischief: 67
- Directed Patrols: 17,802
- Domestic Disputes: 138
- Domestic Violence: 48
- Domestic Violence Restraining Order Violations: 17
- DWI Arrests: 104
- Emotionally Disturbed Persons: 58
- Fraud: 111
- Harassment: 148
- Missing Persons: 9
- Motor Vehicle Stops: 11,698
- Motor Vehicle Summons Issued: 3,669
- Narcotic Arrests: 113
- Neighbor disputes: 31
- Noise Complaints: 238
- Residential Checks: 2,909
- Sex Offenses: 11
- Thefts/Shoplifting: 184
- Traffic Collisions: 917
- Vacant Home Checks: 487
- Records Clerks completed over 600 Arrest Discovery and 47 Motor Vehicle Discovery requests
- Records Clerks completed over 70 OPRA Requests, over 178 DYFS Requests, over 156 Background Requests, 49 Certified Mail Transactions and over 117 Misc. Report Requests
- During the course of 2015, 260+ firearms applicant investigations were completed.
- Detectives conducted twelve (12) Vice/Narcotics Operations in 2015.
- Detectives investigated more than 218 cases; 57 of those cases were closed by arrest. Of the 218 cases, only twenty cases remain open.
- Detectives made 33 trips to the New Jersey State Police Lab with evidence to be processed.
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 2015 and look forward to greater achievements in 2016.
As we move forward into 2016 and beyond, we have many things to look forward to. We can all 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, Laura Harris and all of our municipal employees for a job well done in 2015. May you all and have a happy, healthy and prosperous New Year.
Sincerely and with great appreciation,
MAYOR, MOUNT OLIVE TOWNSHIP