Reorganization Meeting Remarks, Mayor Janet Hoven January 2, 2018:
“2017 was an extremely productive year for the governing body of Chester Borough. The Council, Administration and Professionals are all to be commended for their efforts in making the Borough and even better place to work, play and live!
The year started out with the implementation of an inter local service agreement contracting with Chester Township for police services for the Borough. The integration of the two forces was executed seamlessly though the efforts of our Chief of Police Tom Williver and our former interim administrator Bob Casey. Those two individuals took the ball from then Chester Township Mayor Bill Cogger and his Council and myself and the Borough Council and established a framework for increased coverage and the same as or quicker response times for our residents and businesses. In the 2018 budget, the Borough will realize a reduction in its operating expenses as a direct result of the savings derived from the agreement.
Another highlight of the year was the Council’s approval of a feasibility study to determine if an expansion of the current sewer system would be possible. This effort will continue into 2018. Working with our sewer consultants, the Highlands and the DEP, we are hopeful we will have a workable solution by the end of 2018.
Each of the standing council committees was able to make improvements to the Borough, either through new or amended ordinances and changes in our procedures and practices.
The Ordinance Committee, worked very hard on a new deer management program that allows Borough residents to hunt on municipally owned land. Liz Gugliemini and Gary Marshuetz served on the committee.
Personnel recommended a change in the benefits for permanent part time employees, particularly in the area of paid vacation days and holidays, an idea which had been discussed for awhile. Tim Iversen and Karen Ferrone are on that committee.
The sewer committee, Russ Goodwin and Kyle Holman, met with the sewer consultants and monitored the performance of our existing plant this year, especially the videotaping and smoke testing of the current system.
In accordance with our inter local agreement with Chester Township for police, Karen Ferrone and Liz Gugliemini met quarterly with the Chief of Police in order to provide the governing body with an update on police services.
Online payments for property taxes, sewer, solid waste and the pool are now available to residents and/or users or members. This initiative was part of the finance committee, whose members were Gary Marshuetz and Tim Iversen.
Continual communication with our key stakeholders, primarily the Historic Chester Business Association and the Chester Merchants Association, was handled by Kyle Holman and Russ Goodwin. Between introducing themselves to new merchants and monitoring events in the Borough, they kept busy.
Per the Borough ordinance, the Mayor serves on all standing committees.
In an effort to readapt and reuse, the light fixtures from the old municipal building at 300 Main Street were refurbished by our Department of Public Works and reinstalled at the new municipal building at 50 North Road. DPW, under the supervision of Scott Beam, continues to do an outstanding job maintaining the Borough facilities and roads, all in a fiscally responsible manner.
Much work was done this year in the area of technology, to the credit of our Clerk/Assistant Administrator Denean Probasco. A new firewall, continued off site back up, a virtual private network, rewiring of the offices and soon a new wireless system were all spearheaded by Denean.
With the retirement of the Borough’s long time court administrator, Sharon Alpaugh, the Borough hired Lisa Conover as the new administrator. Lisa and her staff run an extremely efficient court. Our shared court with Mendham Borough continues to save both municipalities money in court operations.
The finance department of Helene Turner, Kellie Macguire and Jerry Shammas has implemented best practices in all areas of municipal finance, from proper Purchase Order issuances, to escrow accounts to implementing online bill payment. Kellie did an outstanding job with pool memberships and operations.
The Board of Health amended an ordinance which allows for a more expeditious turnaround for a septic failure and we thank Nancy Shay for assistance with the Board.
The Land Use Board has embarked on a review of ordinances that pertain to applications and site reviews. Under the guidance of Kerry Brown and our Borough engineer, Paul Ferraro, a new Checklist ordinance will soon be forwarded to the Council for consideration, and discussions continue on the review of other ordinances relating to applications.
Our tax collector, Toni Theesfeld had a most successful year. Toni works for the Borough under a shared service agreement with Chester Township. The Borough had no tax sale this year which is amazing.
Thanks, too, to our municipal attorney, Brian Mason. Brian is always available to answer questions and give guidance on all matters pertaining to the Borough. Along with his partner, Lisa Thompson, Brian keeps the Borough out of the court house!
One of our biggest accomplishments this year was the hiring of Marvin Joss as our Administrator. I’m sure you would all agree that the level of professionalism and knowledge brought to the Borough by Marvin will make the Borough run even more efficiently.
As for 2018, I see many of the initiatives begun in 2017 to continue, especially the exploration of the expanded sewer system.
Affordable housing and the Borough’s affordable housing quota will continue to be a challenge, especially municipal funding obligations.
Finding volunteers to serve on committees in always difficult, as we can see currently with our Recreation Commission. We all need to be looking for residents who might be open to serving as a committee or commission member.
Vacancies on both Main Street and in our malls continue to be of concern. The reviewing of Land Use ordinances and amendments as necessary should benefit property owners and tenants alike. I will ask the Community Relations committee to make it a priority this year to work with our zoning officer to determine the types of businesses we currently have in the Borough and the types we would like to have in the Borough.
In the last three years we have made much progress on the improvement of our roads. Discussions will be on an upcoming agenda to determine what roads we would like to include in our capital plan for 2018. Additionally, as a governing body we need to determine the needs of this municipal complex and put together a capital plan not only for this building, but all of the Borough’s assets, including the pool complex.
It continues to be an honor to serve the Borough as Mayor. It’s a challenge to keep the small time community feel to our town, buts its one that I feel we are all willing to accept. The Borough is a special place to live, work and play and I am committed to do my very best to keep it that way!”