Township of Mendham
Incorporated March 29, 1749
PO Box 520 Brookside, New Jersey 07926
(973) 543-4555 Fax (973) 543-6630
Mayor Warren Gisser
Term expires 12/31/19
Mayor’s Address – 2019
(Read by Mayor Gisser at the Township Committee Reorginization Meeting held on January 4th, 2019)
Good evening and welcome! I am honored to have my colleagues on the Township Committee ask me to serve as Mayor of Mendham Township.
It is great to see a full chamber this evening with so many family, friends, and neighbors here to join us for our reorganization meeting. Having you here today allows you to participate in government, and I hope you will join us for future meetings…even when “refreshments” are not on the agenda!
2019 marks the 270th year for Mendham Township, which was founded in 1749…so we have a lot of history…and you need to be careful with that history! As a member of the fire department, we often operate under the slogan of “100 years of tradition, unimpeded by progress”, there is often a bias towards doing what we have always done in the past, but I am hopeful that this Township Committee can strike a balance between respecting the past, while embracing the future. One of the many factors that I believe will foster a forward looking agenda is the fact that all five Township Committee members are serving in their first term to elected office. I have not gone back through the past 270 years to research this, but I believe it has been a long time since this has occurred. As a group we bring a broad spectrum of experience and knowledge with a fresh perspective.
I also want to remind everyone that we are a committee of equals. We are a team charged with the responsibility of serving the community together. Our primary role is to establish high-level forward-looking priorities and then ensure that we have the resources, both human and financial, in place to ensure success. Our success as a Committee should be measured by having the right people, doing the right job, with the resources needed. To that end, I am pleased to report that we have the finest professional team, led by our administrator, Debbie Bonanno in place. The level of professionalism and collaboration that exists in town hall today is a direct reflection her leadership and I want to thank her publically for all she has done for Mendham Township.
It is worth noting…No one notices when everything is going right…only when things go wrong…so…in an ironic twist, the more that gets done well, the less people tend to notice…(Feel free to stop by town hall…even just to say hello…)
Continue the path set by Mayor Diegnan on getting “closure” on outstanding/legacy issues…it was a busy year… we addressed the Ralston playground, Pitney, sewer east, land use issues, just to name a few…we continue to work on our budget, with a focus on debt reduction and capital expenditure discipline.
We will continue to look for opportunities to partner up with our neighboring communities to create efficiencies…a process that is ongoing and was part of today’s consent agenda
Our tax levy is highly dependent on our aggregate assessed value, which we need to stabilize and grow. We are challenged by our dependence on a nearly 100% residential tax base (I should mention…the kings shopping plaza is not in the Township…you would be surprised how many people don’t know that…BUT we do have a growing retail district with the addition of Harmony Brookside…if you haven’t visited it yet, please do!) We have taken some steps to broaden our tax base through recent approvals for development on Shores Road and in the Pitney subdivision, and we continue to look forward to a specific application on the Hillandale Project/Sister’s Property off Mosle. I also plan to bring professionals before this committee to advise us on what today’s home buyer is looking for. This will help us make informed decisions on where to spend our resources in an effort to attract new home buyers. We know that the quality of our schools “opens the door”, but it falls upon us to “close the deal”.
This committee will bring forward a specific option/course of action to address the well documented issues our Police Department face with respect to their facility. I think it is worth noting that in a recent meeting we had a member of the public comment that as a community we have chosen to do many things (equipment purchases, playgrounds, etc)…so it is a matter of choice to address our Police Department’s aging infrastructure. I agree, and the time is now to make this choice…I believe we owe it to both the Police Department and the residents of the Township to bring forward a specific plan, so as to establish a “yard stick” by which we evaluate all of our options.
So…How do we accomplish our goals…through trust…we must demonstrate to the community that we are making the best decision we can based upon the facts available to us. I ask that we engage in fact-driven debate…let’s first agree to the facts before we form an opinion. The community needs to know and TRUST, that even if they are not in agreement with our decision on an issue, they can count on us making decisions based upon all of the facts that are available to us.
We (the five of us) are your neighbor and friend. Our children share classrooms and playing fields. We see each other when we out shopping…this is local government. Please know that when we make a decision, we know the people it impacts personally. Doing this job well requires a willingness to make difficult decisions…As past mayor Diane Orban-Brown said in her mayoral address…be courageous!
Before I conclude…I need to say a special word to a few people who are most important to me…so please indulge me…
To my parents and in-laws who are here tonight…thank you for your support and interest…you were here for the candidates’ forum, which feels like a lifetime ago…to my son and daughter, you make me smile every day and I promise I will make up the time we miss together…
To my wife Christie…what can I say…everyone in this room should know you personally stuffed, addressed, and stamped over 2000 envelopes back in 2016 during the campaign…so it’s all your fault! Literally and figuratively I could not do any of this without you…you are my friend, my partner, my rock!
It is my esteemed honor to serve as Mayor of Mendham Township…I promise I will put all I can into serving this community along with my colleges on the Township Committee to make 2019 a success!