January 2, 2013 at 2:00 PM
FANWOOD, NJ - The new year officially kicked off with a Reorganization Meeting for Fanwood to swear in two new Council members; adopt by-laws; adoption of a temporary budget; appointment of officers, commissions and boards; and professional service contracts.
Mayor Mahr graciously thanked all service members, council members and behind the scenes volunteers for their countless hours of service to the great community of Fanwood.
Assemblywoman Linda Stender was present to swear in newly elected Council members Jack Molenaar and Dan Levine.
Jack Molenaar re-joins the Council office after a six year hiatus. Mr. Molenaar has also served as the Planning Board Director and is the Director of Transportation for Rutgers University.
Daniel Levine is new to the Fanwood Town Council. He has been a long-time resident of Fanwood and has served as the Assistant Treasurer for The State of New Jersey. Mr. Levine also owns a Management Consulting firm.
Russell J. Huegal the elected President of the Fanwood Council, welcomed in 2013 with a shared sense of enthusiasm and optimism among everyone present and involved in local Fanwood government. His role is to “step in for the mayor during any major absence” stated Mayor Colleen Mahr. He will also help to shape the agenda.
Mayor Mahr swore in Public Defender, Michael Doran, The Fanwood Rescue Squad, Board of Health Members Robert Stovall and Cathy Tomlinson and The Volunteer Fire Department. Joan Feller and Jason Bendit were appointed members of The Historic Preservation Committee. Additional appointments will be made public later in January.
Freeholder Chairman, Al Mirabella, commended Fanwood for their stellar efforts out of 22 other municipalities in effectively handling communication during Super Storm Sandy.
During her remarks, Mayor Mahr reflected back on her 10 year tenure as mayor through changing economic tides. Major developments have been finished and others are about to begin. Mahr also acknowledged that “taxes still list as the top concern for residents and with an average household paying $10,000 in property taxes, and a 2% yearly cap on increases, only 20% of property tax actually gets handled locally, the rest goes to the state.”
According to Mayor Mahr, “the biggest challenge is budgeting with decreased revenues from reduced state aide, along with a 2% annual cap increase and continued pressure coming from Trenton.” Mahr pointed out that Fanwood is the only town in Union County to hand over emergency dispatch operations saving almost $250,000 per year and “we are also looking at a joint police department with Scotch Plains which equates to potential major shared budget savings.”
Mayor Mahr thanked Council Member Kathy Mitchel for her 15 years of service, and all the council members and the hundreds of volunteers who “passionately serve the great town of Fanwood behind the scenes”. Mahr looks forward to working with newly appointed Scotch Plains, Mayor Kevin Glover who, according to Mahr “fully understands Fanwood as an equal partner.”
In an effort to improve communication in times of crisis, an emergency radio station is slated for a Spring/Summer roll-out on AM Chanel 530 will serve both Fanwood and Scotch Plains as a source to turn to for local conditions. An official Facebook page for Fanwood, NJ was started by the mayor’s office.
Meetings to be held later in January will look at finalizing the budget. The meeting was then adjourned for a reception held at the Chelsea on South Avenue in Fanwood.