Township of Mendham
Incorporated March 29, 1749
PO Box 520 Brookside, New Jersey 07926
(973) 543-4555 Fax (973) 543-6630
Mayor Sarah Neibart
Mayor’s Address – 2020
(Read by Mayor Neibart at the Township Committee Reorginization Meeting held on January 2, 2020)
Good Evening Everyone!
Happy New Year, and Welcome to Mendham Township!
On behalf of the whole Township Committee, I want to thank our Township Administrator Debbie Bonnano and our Township Clerk Maria Coppinger for putting everything together for tonight. I also want to thank our outgoing Mayor Warren Gisser for being here tonight and for his leadership and commitment to this town.
As many of you know, 2019 was a busy year for the Township!
- Our Recreation Department revitalized Brookside Beach
- The Ralston Playground finally Opened
- Our Twp. Administrator and DPW Superintendent restructured the Department of Public Works
- Our town received a grant from the State of NJ and a grant from the County of Morris totaling $642,253 dollars to build the Park at Pitney Farm.
- We expanded and continue to expand Shared Services Opportunities by adding Chester Borough to our Shared Court with Chester Twp. and leading an inter-local services initiative with five other towns for animal control services
- Our Planning Board approved several development applications
- We continued making incredible strides in paying down our debt obligations.
Going into this next year, our committee is poised to make even greater improvements.
We are a committee of equals - We are a team charged with the responsibility of serving the community together. All of us have initiatives that we are personally focused on and I am sure you will hear some of them later tonight, but something that I think we can all agree on is that property taxes are just too high.
When I joined the Twp. Committee in 2018, property taxes were my number one issue; so the Mayor – at the time - appointed me to the Finance Committee. I quickly realized that our town operates on a pretty slim budget, and within that budget we are obligated to fund the unfunded state mandates and navigate the state regulations. To offset these costs, we work tirelessly to share services and utilize land and buildings for multi-use services, but without a vast retail or commercial district and without a growing rate-able base it is pretty difficult to sustain.
I know the municipal portion of property taxes is only about 20% of the overall property tax levy, but I believe it is my job and every person’s job on this dais to do whatever they can in their role to be creative and work to find efficiencies to alleviate the tax burden on our residents.
As Mayor of our town and Chair of the Finance Committee, I believe that we can deliver a budget this year with no property tax increase. There will be tough decisions to be made, but it can be done while also continuing to pay down our debt.
In addition to cutting spending, we need to address our revenue problem. One way is to revise our Master Plan to help broaden our tax base.
Our tax levy is highly dependent on our aggregate assessed value, which we need to grow. We are challenged by our dependence on a tax base that is almost completely residential. We have taken some steps to broaden our tax base through recent approvals of development, and I know that we have applications on the horizon, but we need a proactive approach to this problem. Over the years, a lot has been said about what types of homes new families are looking to buy, and we will have to take a serious look to see if our current zoning standards are conducive to attracting those families. We also need to have a conversation about expanding the retail district that includes the Post Office and Harmony Brookside. I am excited to see what the Master Plan Subcommittee comes up with this year.
Another less traditional way to increase revenues is to encourage residents to focus their Charitable Contributions to our town. We had great success with raising money for the Ralston Playground, and I believe we can continue to succeed in raising money for the Park at Pitney Farm and other projects and initiatives coming down the line.
There are many other ideas out there and I encourage all of you to be part of the conversation in the year to come.
Thank you again for coming this evening……
It is my honor to serve as Mayor of Mendham Township… I promise to put all I can into serving this community along with my colleagues on the Township Committee to make 2020 a great success!