CEDAR GROVE, NJ - Essex County Executive Joseph DiVincenzo, Jr. presented the 2014 Essex County Budget at Monday's State of the County Address in Cedar Grove.
While highlighting accomplisments and ongoing plans for improvements in Essex County, DiVincenzo, who is running for a fourth term as Essex County Executive, explained the need to increase the budget 1.5% in an article published by the Alternative Press on Jan. 31. The proposed 2014 budget, totaling $749 million, is a $16 million increase over the 2013 adopted budget.
DiVincenzo said, “What we have been building in the last decade has been carried out by a committed administration and a dedicated workforce of 3,500 employees. Our mission of Putting Essex County First has spread beyond the borders of our 22 municipalities and gained us state recognition. But, more importantly,the efforts of our team have put us on the national map for quality and excellence.”
DiVincenzo chose to focus on recognzing county departments and divisions in Essex County government, including upgrading of the county bond rating to AA Stable, and developing new recurring revenue sources.
He also described highlights over the past year: the Correctional Facility earning accreditation from the American Correctional Association; the Juvenile Detention Facility being named Facility of the Year by the National Commission on Correctional Healthcare; each of the four schools in the Vocational Technical School District receiving Bronze Awards from US News and World Report; the Division
of Senior Services Café in the Park program receiving the Aging Achievement Award from the National Association of Area Agencies on; Branch Brook Park being named one of the 10 Great Public Spaces by the American Planning Association; Turtle Back Zoo earning a Certificate of Excellence from TripAdvisor.com; and the Hospital Center receiving accreditation from the Joint Commission.
New projects were discussed as well as various county infrastructure programs and enhancements, such as neww synthetic grass surfaces on the soccer fields in Independence and Riverbank Parks; walking path rehabilitation in Eagle Rock Reservation; irrigation system in Anderson Park; restroom facilities in Verona Park; the development of the Sea Lion Sound, Prehistoric Playground and Treetop Adventure in Turtle Back Zoo; and paddle boating at the Orange Reservoir.
“So here we are. A new year. New goals. With a renewed commitment to quality service, energized and ready to keep Putting Essex County First,” DiVincenzo said.
He continued, "Our infrastructure projects help improve the quality of life for Essex County’s residents and spur economic development through the creation of jobs.”
According to a press release from DiVincenzo's office, 2014 plans include a new Public Works building; an Education Center at Turtle Back Zoo; a new Café in the Park and master plan to improve recreation facilities in Weequahic Park; clubhouse renovations in Belleville Park; a new synthetic grass surface, rubberized track and fitness course in Brookdale Park; lighting and a fitness course in Ivy Hill Park; the development of synthetic grass surface baseball and softball fields in Watsessing Park, and interior renovations at Kip’s Castle.
Additional plans include renovated basketball courts and a new two-mile walking path in Branch Brook Park; the completion of a two-mile walking path around the Orange Reservoir; creation of a dog park and playground at the South Mountain Recreation Complex and the start of a two-year, $30 million federally funded project to improve safety and drainage on South Orange Avenue between Brookside and Harding drives.
To read the full text of Essex County Executive Joe DiVincenzo's State of the County address, go here.