Happy 100th Anniversary!
100 years ago today, Governor Edwards, approved a Bill to officially allow Beavertown to separate from Pequannock. Last night, 100 years later, the community gathered together to celebrate the Anniversary of this great town at the Centennial Gala. We were honored to have Kellie Doucette of Congresswoman Mikie Sherrill’s office and Assemblyman Jay Webber join us at the Gala. They each marked this special day in our history by presenting the Borough with Proclamations and a flag that had flown over the Capitol. It was an amazing night for residents, new and old.
If you did attend, I am sure you felt the special connection to this town we all call our home. If you weren’t able to celebrate with us, don’t worry, there will be many other opportunities throughout the year to pay tribute to and celebrate Lincoln Park’s 100th Anniversary.
March 11, 1922 marked Lincoln Park’s “new start”. I thought today, March 11, 2022, is ideal time to revisit my State of the Borough Address from January: our “new start” for the next 100 years!
Mayor Runfeldt’s State of the Borough Address - January 2022
I continue to be honored to serve the people of Lincoln Park. This is a privilege that I continue to take seriously and I am grateful for the support and trust that this community has shown to me.
More importantly, I feel this Council, Administration, and I continue to make a difference in providing financial stability, while promoting the growth progress and future of our great town.
I would like to thank Councilman Andrew Seise in the efficient and effective job he did as Council President in 2021. I believe that you have created an exceptionally good working relationship over the years, however over this past year, and I look forward to continuing that in the coming year. I look forward to making Lincoln Park an attractive and exciting place to live and do business.
I would like to take a moment to acknowledge the passing of Councilman Jim Wild. Jim was a tremendous asset to this governing body and he was tireless in his service to all of us here in Lincoln Park. Jim had been a consistent and committed member of this council for at least four (4) decades. Jim helped lead Lincoln Park through good times and bad and he had been a huge component of quality-of-life issues such as flood mitigation, recreation, and planning and development. Jim was always available to me and I appreciate all that he had done both for me and for the service of this community.
It has been a pleasure working with council members Thompson, Ross, Gemian, Antonetti, and Moeller this past year. Lincoln Park has a newish addition to the council, Councilman Joseph Gurkovich. Joe joined us in late 2021. We welcome Joe and I look forward to the input and ideas that you will bring to this council. I am hopeful that you will do what is in the best interest of this community now and for its future in all of your decisions.
This is something that I have challenged every council member and myself with. I would also encourage that all of us in this community do the same. I have stated many times in the past, it is important to look past what is good for each of us, and look towards to what is good for all of us.
I have also said that party politics in small towns like Lincoln Park has no place. Those of us involved in town government should be concerned with providing our residents the most amount of service, in the most efficient manner, while saving the most amount of money.
Speaking of money, 2021 continued to be a successful one financially for the Borough of Lincoln Park. For the 14th consecutive year, the total budget expenditures have remained relatively stable and minimal. Total municipal tax increase once again was less than $7.00 for the average home in Lincoln Park. Another annual goal has been to present a fully compliant budget to Council with regards to the State’s financial regulations.
The 2021 budget reflected less than the 1.5 percent total spending increase. Well within the allowable cap limits which was allowed by the State. Cost containment continues to be a primary goal of mine and has likewise been an aim of the Borough Council. With this direction, we have attained a very positive result and I commend Council for their steadfastness to this objective.
Additionally, we were able to increase our Fund Balance in last year's budget. A strong Fund Balance provides tax stability and contributes to the orderly provision of services from year to year. A healthy Fund Balance also protects taxpayers from unexpected changes in financial conditions such as cuts in state aid and/or a natural disaster emergency.
We are now several years into our plan to have Lincoln Park be debt free. We continue to be firmly on track have zero debt by 2030. Our success in financial matters begins with the watchful eye that our CFO Fabiana Mello and Business Administrator Perry Mayers keep over our budget. The cooperation and willingness of all of our department heads to be as economical as possible also aids us in providing great service at an effective cost. I am confident that these actions will help us in a positive way with future year’s budgeting and continue to ensure that the future of Lincoln Park is a vibrant and prosperous one!
The borough also continues to be tremendously successful in obtaining grants to help decrease costs and supplement the services we provide. In 2021 alone, hundredths of thousands of dollars were obtained in grants and contributions in such things as flood mitigation and buyouts, recreation, health, recycling, sidewalks, and roads.
I am also very happy to inform you that we have obtained a grant to provide electrical vehicle charging stations to our residents. Installation has already commenced in our borough complex parking lot and will be available for us in the near future.
In last year’s state of borough address I mentioned that we were committed to working with our energy providers to demand continuous service especially regarding the issues in the Deer Run section of town. Over the last year the energy company has provided computerized circuits and relay switches which will prevent shortening outages.
Additionally, tree removal in highly subsect able areas of lines running energy to this area, and others throughout the town, had taken place and will help us all during stormy nights.
I had also mentioned a need for improving our internet service. Within the last few weeks, our local cable provider has committed to providing optical quality service to Lincoln Park. New optical cables have been run and the energy to supply the system has been put into place. I am hopeful that this upgrade will be available to all of our residents soon and that will help alleviate some of the problems that we have experienced with the current technology.
Without doubt, the biggest event of 2021, as it was in 2020, and unfortunately continues in 2022, is the COVID 19 pandemic. Lincoln Park is home to one of the largest nursing home and long-term health care facilities in the state. We were hit hard and fast with positive cases and unfortunate fatalities early in the course of the pandemic. Lincoln Park took the necessary steps during the beginning of the pandemic, and all through last year, to help control the spread of the disease in our community. I feel that we have fared well or better than most communities in our area. I also believe that we have done as well as we have while stimulating growth in our local economy, increasing services to our residents, and allowing our children to safely continue to participate in sports and organizations. Most of Lincoln Park’s success in dealing with the pandemic must be attributed to our health official, Kathy Skrobala and the staff of our Health Department.
I am optimistic that as Lincoln Park residents continue to follow the recommendations of our various federal, state and local health agencies, we will continue to do our part to stop the spread of this horrible disease. This past year continued to see more investment new business openings in our Downtown Revitalization area. This shows the faith that businesses now have in the future of Lincoln Park and the smart growth that we are promoting to insure the productive and exciting future of our economy.
The great sense of community and all the accomplishments that this governing body has been able to achieve, are primarily the results of quality people that work for us. Each department head and quite frankly, every borough employee, goes above and beyond in their commitment to serving this community. I am absolutely amazed at how well they perform their jobs at the level of excellence that they do and I am truly thankful for all that they do for us.
Rick Beyer and the DPW and Water Department staff. Sal Marino and the staff of our Building Department. Tom Boorady in the Planning and Engineering Staff. All continue to ensure that the town runs smooth and that our residents are safe. Court Administrator, Ashley Fritz, and those involved in our court system provided a fair and balanced environment for justice and resolutions of disputes. Fabiana Mello and the men and women in the Finance Department continue to go above and beyond in making things like tax collection, paying bills and tax assessment as pleasant as possible for our residents. Janet Cassidy and the staff of the Recreation Department continued to make Lincoln Park exciting. Though we were able to do more normal activities in 2021, there were still many restrictions, recommendations, and requirements they needed to consider.
Perry Mayers and Dina Valente-Stoel in my office and Cindi Sloane and Courtney Fitzpatrick in the clerk's office are always happy to help residents and I thank them especially for the assistance they give me year-round in normal times, and certainly during these trying times.
With regards to your safety, I continue to stand by my belief that we have the best of the best in Lincoln Park. Fire Chief Joe Fede and EMS Chief Beth Anderson both lead dedicated groups of volunteers who leave the comforts of their home and time with their family whenever called to lend assistance.
Police Chief Tony Simone and his officers and staff of the Lincoln Park Police Department remain dedicated to serving our community and providing both safety and protection during the darkest days of the pandemic and the brightest days of our future.
Lastly, I would once again like to thank the Recreation Department and the group town residents who have volunteered their time as part of the Lincoln Park Centennial Committee.
2022 is the 100th birthday of Lincoln Park and this group has an entire year of celebration planned. Please keep an eye out for upcoming events and get your tickets to our Centennial Gala which will be held in March to commemorate our corporation which took place in 1922.
Lincoln Park is a community made of many people…diverse nationalities; different races, genders and religions; young and old. We have people who immigrated to our country and people who were born here. Some have spent their whole lives here; others are new to our town. These differences make up one community...one great, wonderful, thriving, accepting community! I am proud of the part I have contributed to this community. I am thankful to our elected officials for their leadership of this community. Most importantly, I am delighted that each and every one in this community adds their own little part to the abundant richness that makes us Lincoln Park.
I wish you all the best of Health, Wealth and Happiness in 2022 and into the future.
Dr. David A. Runfeldt