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Fiore Reviews Maiden Voyage at Helm

Township's second youngest mayor points to shrinking municipal budget, shared services as wins.

Back in August, rocked during a sudden east coast and battened down the hatches when rolled into town four days later.

When storm-induced erosion sank a portion of ,  brainstormed with officials to get the county road, a major route to township schools, back on line as quickly as possible.

About two weeks later,  Fiore gently addressed the nearly 2,700 people who showed up near the train station to recognize the 10-year anniversary of the terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center in New York City that claimed the lives of.

While leading the ceremony held next to the , Fiore aimed to console the still-hurting loved ones of those who perished at Ground Zero.

Last spring, Fiore steered the township committee toward approving a  that minimized property tax hikes while maintaining essential services. It also met the state-mandated two percent cap on local property tax increases. 

, the annual community fair held in early fall disappeared from the calendar when the committee approved its final municipal budget for 2011. Numerous administrative jobs in the fell victim to the budget axe as well.

Fiore took the heat from some disappointed residents for the absence of Middletown Day, but sailed forward.

When rolled around, Fiore led the pack of four candidates for two openings on the township committee in the race and garnered a second consecutive term.

Fiore, the township's youngest mayor, and his GOP running mate easily cruised past unsuccesssful on Nov. 8.

During Sunday's re-organization meeting, Fiore, 35, will be sworn to his second, three-year term on the all-GOP township committee. Murray will take her first oath of office.

"It's been a challenging year for myself and the governing body," said Fiore, who was first elected to the committee in 2008.

Though his first year in the mayor's office has tested his mettle, Fiore says he would do so again if his committee colleagues re-elect him to the lead post. Otherwise, he will sit on the dais as a committeeman as he had in 2009 and 2010.

"If the committee is so inclined to select me, I would be happy to do so," he said in an interview last week.

Fiore tops his list of accomplishments with chopping a $64.9 million municipal budget originally introduced last spring down to, a difference of $3.8 million.

Faced with nearly $8 million in health care costs for unionized municipal employees as a line item in the budget,  the township committee negotiated with collective bargaining units to find savings, Fiore explained.

The township eventually gave union members a choice between picking up 25 percent of the tab for health insurance coverage or joining a health maintenance organization (HMO), he went on.

"We've saved hundreds of thousands in health care costs for this year, and we will save millions going forward collectively under this contract," Fiore said.

Fiore views initiating with nearby municipal governments and theas a major accomplishment and a "big objective" for 2012.

"The board of education is working with us to share more services and agreements," Fiore said. "We'll be looking for more interaction, idea flow and cooperation with them."

The district's newest superintendent, , has been very open to such contracts, he noted.

"I think the new superintendent is a great new addition," Fiore said.

The mayor praised the police and fire departments for coordinating and staffing the township's command center during emergencies, particularly the Dec. 26, 2010 blizzard and Hurricane Irene.

"I'm very proud of those employees," he said.

Whether or not he is mayor, Fiore has projects and ideas would like to realize in the new year.

To hold down taxes and enhance the quality of life in town, Fiore welcomes ideas for any new township programs that could run cost effectively while producing revenue.

Returning Middletown Day to the calendar might even be feasible if the township can find private sponsors to help pick up the costs of the day-long fair at Croyden Hall.

"We'd like to make it a more community-focused event without placing an extra burden on the taxpayers," he said.

A native of Carteret, Fiore has lived in the township for eight years. By day, he works as a pension and investment specialist for Prudential Financial in Newark.

 

Pilgrim December 29, 2011 at 10:16 PM
The vast majority if not all of the $3.8 million noted as cuts in this article were the result of non-reoccurring expenses. Good luck with establishing better relations with the BoE -- Gerry Scharfenberger diid a great job destroying any existing relationship a few years ago. Although, the Republican Partry has managed to place a few puppets on the board in recent elections and recently managed to get Jim Cody appointed.

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