Very few times in history an event completely defines a year. 1776 is defined by independence. 2001 is defined and remembered by the tragedies of 9/11. For the Jersey Shore, 2012 will be defined and remembered by one word: Sandy. As I deliver this outgoing Mayor’s address, it is difficult to reflect and recap all of the great things that the Township has accomplished prior to her introduction to us on October 29th but I’ll do my best.
Last year at Reorganization, I defined a few primary goals and objectives that I believed were critical to the overall success of the Township Committee in 2012. First and foremost, full compliance with the Governor’s 2% property tax cap. Despite costs that continue to rise, the Township Committee was able to deliver a budget that was fully under the cap all in yielding the lowest tax increase in over a decade. Our budget and spending remains the lowest per capita in the entire state. Not only were we able to accomplish our budgetary goals, we were able to do so without decreasing services but actually increasing them. In 2012, we introduced additional services such as single stream recycling. This program has generated over $20,000 per month of savings while increasing services by allowing for cardboard and mixed paper to be picked up curbside.
The lease and sale of the Middletown Swim Club will yield tremendous benefits for the future of Middletown. During these difficult economic times, the Township’s operation of the Swim Club was on the verge of becoming a heavy financial burden on the taxpayers of Middletown. The sale of the property will yield over $5m in capital improvements to the facility by the new ownership group and will create a world class swim and ice facility for all of Middletown to enjoy at no cost to taxpayers. This new and exciting development to that property will be a great recreational asset that Middletown sorely needed. When you look up the definition of public/private partnership this transaction should be listed as the perfect example.
Saturday September 29th was one of Middletown’s best days of the year with the return of Middletown Day. After a one year hiatus, Middletown Day returned to the fields of Croydon Hall better than ever. Through the fundraising efforts of the Mayor’s Office and the generosity of our local business community, Middletown Day returned with the emphasis of showcasing all of our various community groups, volunteer organizations, and our local business community. Over 12,000 people from our community gathered to celebrate all that makes Middletown the greatest town in this country. I could not be prouder or more thankful to everyone who helped to bring back this community event and look forward to an even bigger and better Middletown Day in 2013.
Exactly one month to the date of our best day came our worst. On Monday October 29th, Superstorm Sandy ravaged the Jersey shore bringing damaging winds and unprecedented tidal surges throughout our community. Despite our mandatory evacuation orders, the brave men and women of our police, fire, EMS,and OEM, battled life threating conditions to save the lives of those in danger. These selfless volunteers, many of whom lost their own homes and possessions in the process, conducted almost three dozen water borne rescues. Despite the devastation, not one life was lost.
Superstorm Sandy brought Middletown its worst. Almost 80% of our bayshore area received some level of damage from the storm. Over 1,500 homes were left completely uninhabitable. However, the storm also brought out our best. At a time where it was very easy to come apart, Middletown came together. Through the remarkable efforts of our public information office and our technology department, we communicated over 1250 critical updates through every single option available. Middletown residents came together from all over town to converge on our bayshore to help provide meals, supplies and a little muscle to those who needed it most. Volunteers from as far as Oklahoma came to offer a helping hand or a hot meal. Governor Christie and Lt Governor Guadagno visited Port Monmouth four times in the days that followed the storm offering support and all necessary resources available to help those who needed it most. Listing the names of everyone who answered the call for Middletown would fill up too many pages to count. I could not be more humbled and honored by everyone who came together as one to show the world exactly what it means to be Jersey Strong.
In closing, it has been an honor and a pleasure serving as Mayor of this great community. I have been blessed with the best governing body a Mayor can ask for in Steve, Gerry, Kevin, and Stephanie. I look forward to continuing to serve on the Township Committee and will work tirelessly with my colleagues to ensure that Middletown continues to be the best it can be. It has been said that there is no greater place to live, work and raise a family than Middletown NJ. This past year has bolstered and strengthened that belief for us all.