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Manchester State of the Municipality Address

Mayor Michael Fressola issued the address, highlighting township developments

The following is the State of the Municipality Address for Manchester as prepared by Mayor Michael Fressola:

It is that time of the year and for me it’s the 14th time as your Mayor, I am fulfilling this obligation. With unbelievable nation-wide fiscal conditions our concentration this past year and a half was to focus with a "status quo" mentality. With substantial reductions in state aid and decreases in other revenues, combined with dramatic increases in almost every item of cost to the Township, the thought of achieving any substantial accomplishments appeared unattainable.

Despite all of the stumbling blocks thrown at us, our departments continue to excel and improve to the benefit of our entire Township.

Our Police Department under the extremely capable leadership of Chief Brian J. Klimakowski and an outstanding staff, reported the following:  

On October 1, 2012, we completed our on-site evaluation as part of the "Law Enforcement Accreditation" program. Following our on-site, the evaluators made formal recommendation to the Commission that the Division is awarded this prestigious honor. Due to Super Storm Sandy, the Commission meeting has been scheduled for mid-February. We will receive our actual certification at that meeting.

As part of the accreditation program, the Division of Police has developed and/or implemented over 46 new policies which will strengthen the organizational structure and will provide a solid foundation for officers.  These policies will also enable the Township to better defend against civil litigation.

The following is just a partial list of outstanding accomplishments of this Department:

  • Received a "Best Dressed" award in March 2012
  • "DARE" car was awarded 2nd place at the state conference
  • In May 2012 completed first "Auxiliary Police Academy" and graduated 6 new auxiliary officers

Above is only part of a long list of the Police Department’s improvements and accomplishments.

Our Municipal Clerks Department led by Sabina Skibo, had a very difficult year with the movement of elections from May to November. "Sandy" hit at election time; electricity went out requiring polling places to be moved, transportation was provided and the Clerk’s office was opened as a polling place for displaced voters and military personnel.

The Clerk and staff have spoken at various club functions and provided service to homebound or hospital bound throughout the year. They have continued to host Regional Day School students to work in the Clerk’s office and enjoy a wonderful working relationship with that school’s staff.

Our Division of Purchasing/Personnel under the very excellent leadership of Maureen Kumitis, I believe, had another successful year. The Division of Purchasing/Personnel is unique to all other divisions within the Township in that this division does not deal with the public at large, but rather interdepartmentally in all areas relating to purchasing and personnel. A significant challenge in this area has been in the development of interdepartmental relationships. Although this is and always will be a continuing issue with promotions, retirements, etc. The greatest challenge seems to have been in effecting changes necessary to remain in compliance with state and federals laws.

Our Personnel Division has continued to streamline the Workers Compensation reporting procedures. They are working with the departments to ensure timely reporting, and are also working with the Safety Committee to reduce the overall injuries by instituting tool box talks and providing the necessary relevant training before injuries occur.

In another area, the Purchasing Division continues to evaluate requisitions to ensure we are purchasing goods and services in compliance with the Local Public Contracts Law, local vendors whenever possible, and always at the most advantageous price.

Our excellent Tax Assessor, Martin Lynch, completed the town-wide reassessment for tax year 2013 in-house at a savings of at least $250,000 compared to the cost of hiring a revaluation company. A plan to conduct annual reassessments will also minimize the cost and any changes to individual property owner’s taxes should be less drastic compared to reassessing less often. The annual reassessment will also greatly reduce property owner’s need to file assessment appeals since the property tax assessments will be more accurate when compared to actual market value.

Diane Lapp, our Chief Financial Officer/Director of Finance, completed another successful year, and has set for her department some outstanding goals for 2013. During the calendar year, they upgraded our time tracking system from TIMETRAK to Visual Computer Solutions Systems Software. The new system was more complicated at first, but delivers a more efficient accounting of time management as well as streamlining payroll processing. The reporting module enables management to create reports based on need rather than being able to access only pre-canned reports.

This is the first year the Chief Financial Officer of Manchester created and submitted the Annual Debt Statement and the Annual Financial Statement to the State of New Jersey. In the past, the auditor has completed these statutory statements.

The Finance Department applied to the State to transition from a State Fiscal Year budget to a Calendar Year budget.

The Revenue Collection Division has been through a year of many changes. The town has gone through a transition from a fiscal year budget to a calendar year budget. The office was required to send out tax bills in a different manner and timeframe. They also were required to hold a second tax sale before the end of 2012. Also, there were over 2,000 tax appeals that needed to be processed and adjusted due to a declining housing market and economy.

There was a new hire for the tax clerk position.  And regretfully, the announcement of retirement of the deputy tax collector after 31 years of service.

As of June 30, 2012, our tax collection rate was 98.77 percent. The Revenue Collection Division is exceptional in their efforts to maintain such a high rate.

The Finance Department goals for 2013 include the following:

  • Maintain an audit with zero findings
  • Cross train personnel for optimal performance
  • Continue to investigate various avenues of investing to promote  enhanced revenues for the Township
  • ADP Payroll System  and Excel training as needed for staff members
  • Replace computer software for Billing, Reporting and Accounts Receivable
  • Replace computer software for Purchasing and Accounting
  • Transition the Western billing to the Revenue Collection Division at Town Hall
  • Renovate the Revenue Collection Division to allow more personnel in the office
  • Credit card acceptance throughout Town Hall with no additional cost to the Town for such service
  • Bid out banking services

I believe we have one of the finest Senior Service organizations in our State led by Brenda Sloan. Manchester Senior Services provided residents 60 years or older with 11,224 units of Information & Assistance, 6,969 units of Benefit Screening and 7,563 units of Transportation within the last year.

Manchester Senior Services can provide you with Information and Assistance on Local, County, State and Federal programs. Some examples are: Adult Day Care, Assisted Living Facilities, Caregivers Resources, Home Delivered Meals, Homemaker Services, Hunger Relief, Long Term Care Facilities, Rebates (Property Tax Relief Programs/ Homestead/ Senior/Veteran/ Disabled Veterans), SHIP (State Health Insurance Program), Veterans Services, PAAD (Pharmaceutical Assistance to the Aged and Disabled) and Home Energy Assistance.

When a resident is not sure what programs they may be entitled to, a Benefit Screening is completed by a Senior Services Caseworker to determine what program the resident may be entitled to according to income.

Medical Transportation is provided to doctors or medical facilities located in Whiting, Manchester, Brick, Lakehurst, Lakewood, Silverton, and Toms River. Appointment time with doctor must be between 10:00 a.m. till 10:30 a.m. or 1:00 p.m. till 1:30 p.m. They provide transportation to residents who are ambulatory/semi-ambulatory/wheelchair-bound.

Our Board of Adjustment reviewed and heard a total of sixteen applications. Seven were totally approved; seven were approved with conditions to be met; one was denied and one was withdrawn, that was the skilled nursing facility which occupied much of the Board’s time.

Our Data Processing Division under the able leadership of Josh Schnoor, had a very successful year. Year 2012 saw many accomplishments, both organizationally and in the realization of new endeavors. Early on, the Division was moved back under control of the Administration. This was proposed as a precursor to moving towards one cohesive Data Processing group for the entire town. It would include all Police technical needs as well as the Administration’s. During the Fall this reorganization was complete and we began to operate as a single unit. Our members are being cross trained on both sides to give us a more robust support group. This was a brilliant move which has been very beneficial to the Township and its employees.

Spring of 2012 saw a new time management program deployed. Police Officer Scheduling System/TIMES was another group effort between Police and Administrative employees.  It required importing and tweaking of existing data as well as the implementation of many networking components to ensure proper operation across all satellite locations. This included having high speed Internet installed at our Eastern Service Area offices as well as the Western Service Area pump station. Next we set up Virtual Private Network connections at these locations which would allow for the new time clock kiosks to communicate seamlessly with the servers at Town Hall. Implementation was a complete success; Police Officer Scheduling System/TIMES has been running flawlessly ever since.

For the Department of Public Works garage, Data Processing was instrumental in helping to set up a new Work Orders/Inventory Control System. This included adding a WiFi network to the garage to facilitate using handheld barcode scanners to easily manage inventory. This program can be accessed via any web browser connected to the internet.

Lastly, an overhaul of the Township’s website was completed in 2012. The new site is more dynamic, allowing for changes on the fly from any web browser. It allows for Facebook, Twitter and Rich Site Summary feed connectivity.  It contains a calendar of upcoming events, a Mayor’s blog section and a host of forms that can be downloaded and filled out online.

Plans for improvement of all systems in 2013 include additional education, and upgrading of systems and equipment.

Our Emergency Management Coordinator, Arthur Abline, provided unbelievable service during the "Sandy" event. This office was being called upon to serve as a Federal Emergency Management Agency Distribution Center by the Ocean County Office of Emergency Management via the New Jersey State Police Office of Emergency Management. While tasked with this endeavor it was challenging in the regards of finding a place to operate, how to staff the facility, where to store the items to be distributed and coming up with hours of operation. After spending a few hours at the County Emergency Operation Center all the logistical items were accomplished and the distribution center was opened the following day. This distribution center operated for sixteen (16) days and it was staffed by volunteers from the Community Emergency Response Teams Team for Manchester, volunteers from the Manchester Township School system and volunteers from the Manchester Township Little League Association. During the course of this operation we were able to distribute heater meals, water, blankets and ice to those residents of Ocean County affected by the storm.

A major problem and concern because of the economy is the inability to acquire and stockpile the necessary equipment for handling a disaster situation without having to rely on someone else for the equipment. Hopefully, we can find a funding source to obtain the items needed for sheltering during an emergency.

Cassandra Colgate, our Recreation Office Manager, completed another successful year. The following is a list of major events:

  • The Recreation Department was able to provide exceptional services, programs, camps and opportunities for Manchester residents of all ages at reasonable fees
  • We had an overwhelming turnout for our annual Easter Egg Hunt
  • We were able to bring back the fantastic firework display at the Independence Day Celebration which kicks off our Concert Fest series
  • Concert Fest "2012" – A free concert series featuring diverse, renowned artists on Wednesday evening at Harry Wright Lake in Whiting
  • The Recreation Department was able to offer a new program called Marine Science Camp which offered a “hands on, feet wet” marine & environmental education experience
  • We continue to offer a variety of trips to local theatres which include bus/lunch and ticket at a reasonable fee for our senior community (but not limited to)
  • We brought the community together for another successful evening at Manchester’s Annual Tree Lighting and photo op with Santa

Our Department of Inspections, Planning and Zoning supervised by Mike Martin, joined in to help many people left without homes due to Super Storm Sandy. We worked very diligently with realtors and home owners to inspect and issue hundreds of rental certificates of occupancies to give displaced families a home in the first few weeks in the aftermath of the storm devastation.

With the installation of gas lines throughout the Township by NJ Natural Gas, our department had another record breaking year for permits issued and inspections completed for thousands of gas conversions.

Although we are still seeing some new home construction, once the water allocation issue is resolved we expect to see many new single family homes being constructed in Manchester.

The Planning & Zoning Boards approved such projects as a 519 unit apartment complex, industrial park for Manchester businesses, STS Tire Centers, car wash and a Dunkin Donuts bringing long needed commercial ratables to our community.

Tracy Barcus, our Court Administrator, has good news to report. Our Court finished 2nd out of 33 courts in the County regarding year-end backlog. She, her staff and our Judge deserve our compliments.

Our Department of Public Works and our Utility Department headed by Director Stanziano accomplished a number of important projects of great benefit to our residents. The Township was able to realize a savings of more than $400,000 by operating the water and sewer systems in the Eastern Service Area in-house versus the previously contracted service provided by United Water.

Utilizing funding provided through an NJ Department of Transportation grant, the Department of Public Works was able to pave Colonial Drive from Route 37 to Route 70. In addition to the paving of the roadway, concrete curbs and sidewalks were constructed, which now allow for pedestrian and bicycler traffic from Leisure Village West to the Municipal Complex and the Ocean County Library. Additional aesthetic improvements are slated for the future to include benches, shelters and landscaping.

During the recent hurricane, the Department of Public Works was able to maintain uninterrupted water and sewer services in both the Eastern and Western Service areas. Despite power outages on both sides of town, all wells, lift & pump stations, treatment facilities and monitoring equipment remained fully operational through the use of emergency generators; there was never a loss of service. This was noted at a recent New Jersey Water Association meeting, as Manchester was one of the few, if not the only, municipality in Ocean County to maintain normal services throughout this disaster. The Department of Public Works was able to keep pace with the storm. Working under the most adverse weather conditions, Department of Public Works workers were out in full force removing trees, branches and other debris on Township roadways, to allow for the unimpeded response by the police and fire departments, ambulances and other emergency response personnel.

In conclusion, I would be remiss if I did not mention our Business Administrator, Elena Zsoldos. A good many of the accomplishments of this past year and a half were due to her leadership, her encouragement of all employees in establishing a cohesive, innovative overall working environment and her tireless efforts aimed at constantly improving our service to our constituents.

Respectfully submitted,

Michael Fressola
Mayor

ballyjduf February 11, 2013 at 11:39 PM
great news mayor , but what did you do for the town ?
Raven Pozzi February 12, 2013 at 11:46 AM
Annual reassessment? that does not sound good to me.
KAREN A KINCAID February 12, 2013 at 03:02 PM
To me it's all jibberish. I have no interest in politics, BASICALLY because it don't matter what you do or what you say, the out come is always the same ( it costs you money ). Now, what i am wishing for.... and again I really don't think themmayor is reading this but i will say it anyway. it stated that we now have the state of the art up grade software. OK, then how come we have to pay our taxes every three months and not on a month to month basis over the internet????? ( i'm speaking for myself here ) It's harder for me to come up with 1200.00 every three months then it is to come up with 400.00 monthly. WHY, when it comes out to be the same thing you ask???? because money in the checking account lingering there only makes me want to spend it for food, electric and so on. when i know i have a certain bill monthly i pay it. ( that simple ) saves time going to the court house and taking up space, no aggravation of waiting in line while the girl is too busy chatting on the phone or with a co worker. but mostly it saves me money on the interest because i seem to be late every three months because i never have the full amount!!! SOUND SIMPLE MAYOR!!! Look, i am not for or against the mayor. I have dealt with him a couple of times. seems to be OK as a person. I really never had any dealings with him as a mayor so i am not for or against his politics. I'm just sayin.
Michael Fressola February 12, 2013 at 03:54 PM
I am in Town Hall every day. If you are not afraid of being identified, come in to my office ,spend a day with me and get an idea of how much work is involved. But you won't do that You would rather just bad mouth . There is an old saying, " Don't confuse me with facts, my mind is made up".
Michael Fressola February 12, 2013 at 04:00 PM
Dear Karen, We are working on that issue re. billing, but frankly , our collection rate is one of the best in the county and we get almost no complaints. I am also puzzled about your complaint, since our records do not show that neither you or your husband are homeowners in Manchester .I'am just saying.
Michael Fressola February 12, 2013 at 04:05 PM
Raven Pozzi, It simply means we will be able to more fairly be in a position of having a more accurate value of your property and that your tax rate will l be fairer to all home owners. This responding to comments is begining to be fun.
KAREN A KINCAID February 12, 2013 at 04:44 PM
Mayor, BINGO... your right!! but what you don't know is that we live with my eldery mother and have taken over her house hold in the senior village ( leisure ridge ) "WE" my husband and I pay all the bills for my mothers home, we also take care of the home ie: landscaping & all the repairs ( and so on ) AND I MIGHT ADD.... being power of atterney for my 88 yr old Aunt and mother. So legelly we are not the home owner, but might as well be. ( we're working on buying the house ) To make things so much easier for my mother. As i stated, I am not "NOT" against your politics since i have no interest in politics. And i am not against you since i have dealt with you on a personal basis. ( ie: marriage, business ) i'm only stating it would be easier to be able to pay your taxes via internet once a month then to have to pay them every three months. So dear sir, i'm glad you have done your homework on us being home owners, shows that you know your stuff in that aspect. HOWEVER, you really don't know the whole issue. I do invite you here to our home for a nice dinner and chat. ( might even give you coffee and cake afterwards ) lol only kidding!! but your very welcome to see what we're talking about, and how us little ppl run the business and house hold. Karen Kincaid
KAREN A KINCAID February 12, 2013 at 04:55 PM
HOLD ON SIR, I personally have not bad mouthed you. i don't bad mouth anyone. i am a business owner here in Manchester and refuse to put my rep on the line and lower myself to bad mouth!!! Yes, your right, i can spend the day with you in your office, but again it wouldn't do me any good since i know nothing about politics. HOWEVER, the same consideration applies, would you come here and have dinner with us to see how the little ppl work and how they run business and household???? Again, nothing personal since your OK in my book as a person. never did anything to me to make me want to resent you. So if you find my note as a personal attack, then my appoligies. it was never meant to be, I was just saying it would HELP us make the payments on time. karen kincaid
KAREN A KINCAID February 12, 2013 at 05:01 PM
Responce to your comment on replying to us....... KUDO'S SIR!!! Takes a BIG man to go one on one with his ppl!! I admire that very much, and i am sure others do too!!!
Michael Fressola February 12, 2013 at 06:47 PM
Dear Karen, thank you for all the info you provided, and for the invitation. If my wife of 63 years won't feed me some evening, I may take you up on the invite. In the meantime as I have offered your fellow commenters on Patch my door at Town Hall is open to you and all of them. But unlike you , many of them hide beyond fony names
despicable me February 12, 2013 at 07:18 PM
UnitedHealth Group Donates $1 Million To Manchester-Area Towns Impacted By Sandy Does anyone else find this odd? That a health group would donate to Manchester Township, I mean compared to other areas Manchester had very little damage from Sandy. Is this some kind of kick back? Where is the Money and what is it being spent on?
aermanc February 12, 2013 at 07:20 PM
To: KAREN A KINCAID I could only wish my taxes were $400 a month. Sorry, I fought my assessment this past year and got a fare reduction of property value of $39,000 (it reduced my taxes by about $700 a yr) but after this recent evaluation...........I got another property value reduction of approx. $11,000 only to have my taxes go up 20% or $1400. Can you believe I will be now paying $720 a month for property taxes? Oh just to keep it in perspective......... my monthly take home pay went down over $150 a month (more taxes) Gas prices go up along with heating, electric, food, insurance etc. So Mayor Fressola what do you suggest?
KAREN A KINCAID February 13, 2013 at 10:09 AM
now that was rude on my part ...... OF COURSE, i would love to have your wife here with you. That was very stupid on my part. This is an Italian household my friend..... you know everyone is welcome. My offer stands, we eat good, and then we talk over coffee and a nice Italian cake. I'd love to talk some issues. I would be very happy to post to the ppl of Manchester, that your not just the mayor but your also a man of the ppl. Your call sir!!!
KAREN A KINCAID February 13, 2013 at 10:11 AM
now that was rude on my part ...... OF COURSE, i would love to have your wife here with you. That was very stupid on my part. This is an Italian household my friend..... you know everyone is welcome. My offer stands, we eat good, and then we talk over coffee and a nice Italian cake. I'd love to talk some issues. I would be very happy to post to the ppl of Manchester, that your not just the mayor but your also a man of the ppl. Your call sir!!!
Michael Fressola February 19, 2013 at 04:54 PM
Did you pick your phony name because your mind and soul tell you thats what you are? Or do somehow think its funny? Manchester did not and will not receive a dime of the money you refer to. Would it not be great, if when you had a question , you asked for an answer from some one who would know.
despicable me February 21, 2013 at 05:07 AM
I did notice that in your name it DOES NOT say Mayor Michael Fressola, Is that because deep down inside you know that you should NOT be the mayor? oh and who would know? you? I find that hard to believe. Should I call Town Hall? Every time I have ever called the township all I ever got was the run-around. WHAT A MESS YOU HAVE MADE OF MANCHESTER TOWNSHIP.
despicable me February 21, 2013 at 05:12 AM
DUDLEY FOR MAYOR! Keep fighting Henry Dudley, Please appeal if you can. Michael Fressola has done nothing for the township of Manchester outside the walls of the senior communities and I think I speak for many of the residents (outside senior living) when I say WE DO NOT WANT THIS MAN TO REPRESENT US ANYMORE! If I am wrong and you can name one good thing this man has ever done for us non-seniors please correct me.
Michael Fressola February 22, 2013 at 04:19 PM
It's very evident to anyone concerned that you din not bother to read the Address above. If you did, you would not have added your question to the ridiculous statement above. My invitation to meet with me in person, and allow me to show you ton"s of evidence of what I do on a daily basis for all and I do mean all residents of MACHESTER.BUT I KNOW YOU WON"T,You would rather be able to continue comment while hiding your identity.
KAREN A KINCAID February 22, 2013 at 06:59 PM
Mayor... It is not evident to "everyone" and some of us need not have to hide behind false names!! AND YES...... some of us invited you and your wife for dinner ( QUOTE ) "BUT I KNOW YOU WON"T" Not everyone is against your policies. Some of us just asked questions to make paying taxes a little easier. ( ie: monthly payments )

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