2019 Reorganization Speech by Mayor Betty Ann Fort
LOOKING AHEAD AT 2019
First of all, I want to welcome Juergen Huelsebusch to the Committee. I am confident that he will be a wonderful addition.
Second, I want to thank Liz Duffy for the excellent job she did during her four years on the Committee. She will be missed.
And third, I want to commend Ben for the fine job he has done as Mayor for the past two years. While I can’t claim that Ben was solely responsible for Unicom choosing Readington as its new site, Ben worked very hard as our liaison to Unicom, letting them know how welcome they would be here. I’ll let you in on a little secret about Ben. He is actually three—or more—people, Township Committee member and past Mayor, great father to Annie and Catherine and husband to Christina, and high-powered professional who commutes to NYC every day. And that’s when he isn’t taking flying lessons, restoring old Land Rovers and being a gentleman farmer. I’d like to ask you to join me in applauding Ben.
So now for my Crystal Ball Look-ahead for 2019.
First, At Hunterdon County’s direction, Readington must do a total revaluation of all residential and commercial properties in the Township. This is a big and complicated job. We will be hiring a professional revaluation firm who will inspect ALL properties in the Township. Our last revaluation was in 2003. Currently, most properties are valued at around 81% of market value, and the goal is to bring them closer to 100%, and to remove any inequities in valuation. In most cases, this does not mean that your taxes will go up—some may even go down, and most will stay about the same, as the Tax Rate will go down. Much more information on this will follow,
We hope to get to know Unicom better and find ways to work together in mutually beneficial ways.
We will finalize our State-mandated Affordable Housing Plan. We have worked very hard on this to satisfy our Affordable Housing obligation in the least-worst way—that is, with the least negative impact on the town. The Nelson Street site has already begun construction, with a planned completion date somewhere around the end of the year.
We hope to finally move forward on the P. Lomar/Cushetunk Nature Preserve project. Jonathan Heller has taken charge of that, and we will be looking for lots of volunteers of all ages to help with this ambitious and exciting project.
We will continue to work to make our roads safer, working with the VERY SLOW-MOVING State Department of Transportation to close some and improve other median openings on Route 22, and we will add new signage to the recently-striped intersection of School, Pulaski and Kosciusko Roads.
We are so impressed with what the all-volunteer Beautification Committee has done to make Main Street in Whitehouse Station more attractive, and we will enthusiastically support their efforts.
Obviously, we value our Emergency Services, and will continue to provide them with what they need to do their jobs safely and effectively. We will be planning for a new tower truck, the cost of which will be shared with Branchburg, for the Readington Fire Department.
We hope to grow the Readington Business Association, begun last year by Ben and Liz, to support and encourage businesses in Readington and give them a voice in their town.
We will continue to seek opportunities to preserve land when we can do so with little or no cost to the Township, and we are looking to increase use of our beautiful trails by providing some learning opportunities such as photography or bird-watching walks in addition to continuing our brand new First Day walk.
With the shrinking of press coverage in our local newspapers, we will need to find creative ways to communicate with our residents to let them know what is going on in town and in our Municipal Building. Our new Municipal page in the Readington News is just one of those ways, as is our improved web page thanks to John Albanese and Vita Mekovetz. We will explore use of Social Media and expanded signage as well.
And, as always, we would hope to hear from you, our residents. Let us know when you think we are doing something well, or when you disagree with us. We welcome your comments and your ideas. We all work better when we treat each other with respect and courtesy. After all, we all want the same thing—to keep Readington a great place to live.