Year 2013 was another year of economic
uncertainty both at the National and State levels. In spite of these circumstances, which
resulted in increased costs and decreased revenues, our municipality continued
to provide outstanding service to our residents.
Our Police Department under the very capable leadership of Chief Brian J. Klimakowski and his staff, had another outstanding year of accomplishments.
The following is a list of just a few.
- Two new Officers were added to the force.
- Three Class II Special Officers were hired.
- Five new Volunteer Auxiliary Officers were trained and sworn in.
- Purchased three (3) new police SUV’s to supplement the police fleet.
- Solidified and stabilized the Communications Section with a new Communications Supervisor.
- Tested and evaluated a new Mobile Video Recording (MVR) system for the police fleet.
- Officially received Accredited Status in February 2013.
- We received a 3rd Place National Law Enforcement Challenge Award which recognizes excellent law enforcement traffic safety programs.
- Launched “Project Medicine Drop”, a program designed to assist in preventing the abuse and diversion of unused, unwanted, or expired prescription drugs.
- Successfully solved a rash of residential burglaries in several retirement communities on the west end of town. Case spilled over into 2014.
- Provided education and training to hundreds of Manchester children in both the DARE and GREAT programs.
Our Municipal Clerk, Sabina Skibo, took the lead in instituting a new sound/recording system in the courtroom used for Council, Court, Planning Board, Board of Adjustment and Environmental Commission meetings. It has greatly improved the quality of recording and audible quality for the public. Recordings during meetings are sent directly from the microphones to recording on laptops.
As a result of dedication and hard work by our Tax Assessor Martin Lynch, we have been able to minimize the number of assessment appeals in 2013 and 2014 as a result of completing a Township-wide Reassessment in 2013. The Reassessment was completed in-house at a savings of more than $250,000 compared to the cost of hiring a Revaluation Company.
Our Utility Department under the direction of Donald E. Somerset, P.E., had another very busy year and the following are just a few of the major accomplishments.
- The foremost accomplishment was our delivery of water meeting all Federal and State Health Standards throughout 2013, as evidenced through extensive water quality testing, within the fiscal constraints of the budgets approved by the Township Council for each of our water utilities.
- The operation of our sewer utilities without major incident within the fiscal constraints of the budgets approved by the Township Council for each of our sewer utilities.
- The modification of our NJDEP Water Allocation Permit for our Western Service Area water utility that provides for the availability of adequate water resources for the next ten years.
- The consolidation of the billing and collections offices for both the Eastern and Western water and sewer utilities into a single office in the Municipal Building enabling closure of the satellite Western Service Area office providing a significant annual cost savings while improving financial controls.
Our Public Works Department under the day to day leadership of Deputy Director Raymond Sloan, had another very busy productive year which included the following.
- The Spring of 2013 was spent cleaning parks and playgrounds of debris from Hurricane Sandy.
- We surfaced several roads in the Roosevelt City section of Whiting including Patterson, Camden, Elizabeth and New Brunswick.
- We swept every road in the Township at least once including all retirement communities.
- We cleaned and inspected all Township owned storm drain inlets and catch basins as per our storm water run-off management plan program.
- The Buildings and Grounds Department renovated several offices and stairwells on the Municipal side including the Tax Collector’s, Tax Assessor’s, Bureau of Inspections’ and several offices on the Police side.
Manchester Senior Services led by Brenda Sloan continues to be one of the finest senior service organizations in the state. Manchester Senior Services provided residents 60 years or older with 11,223 units of Information & Assistance, 6,644 units of Benefit Screening and 7,437 units of Transportation in 2013.
Manchester Senior Services can, and does, provide Information & 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 and assets.
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 between 10:00 a.m. until 10:30 a.m. or 1:00 p.m. until 1:30 p.m. We provide transportation to residents who are ambulatory/semi-ambulatory/wheelchair-bound.
In 2009 Manchester Township Senior Services completed a grant from NJ Transit for a wheelchair assessable van. In 2010 Manchester Township was awarded the grant. In 2013 we received the van.
The Emergency Management Division led by Art Abline has continued to prepare for any type of emergency situation which might come our way. The following are some of their accomplishments and problems and concerns.
Emergency Management accomplishments for 2013 included the ability to secure an Energy Allocation Initiative grant in the amount of $142,080.00 for a generator at the Municipal Complex. The Division also conducted a tabletop disaster exercise with AristaCare Health Care Facility with excellent results.
They are still working on securing additional monies for the generator as well as generators for Manchester Fire Company, Ridgeway Fire Company, and Manchester First Aid, but having difficulty in accomplishing this as the State has still not uploaded the original information to the system for processing.
Our Municipal Court Administrator Tracy Barcus, has reported that the Court has been busy this year and the caseload so large that the Township has added 2 additional court sessions to alleviate the customers from spending many hours to have their cases heard.
We said goodbye to our former Deputy Court Administrator Sandra Brodbeck, who recently was hired in Upper Freehold Municipal Court as the new Court Administrator. Julia Burton will be replacing her; she is a fully Certified Court Administrator by the Supreme Court of New Jersey. Julia will be a great asset to Manchester Township Municipal Court.
The goal in Manchester Municipal Court is to have all the Court staff be fully certified and we are almost there.
Our Department of Inspections, Planning and Zoning supervised by Michael Martin has seen a steadily demanding need to provide services, stimulated to some slight improvement of economic conditions. The department continued issuing gas conversion permits again this year, with thousands of residents upgrading their homes, changing over their furnaces, air conditioning, water heaters, etc. to more energy efficient appliances, insulation and new roofs. We also have issued hundreds of emergency generators and solar installation permits. All inspections of these homes were completed, in spite of the devastating winter we had.
Commercial construction increased with start and completion of two STS Tire Centers and Dunkin Donuts, many tenant “Fit Outs” for new establishments in our existing shopping centers and a new medical office building underway on Lacey Road.
New to our Zoning Department is a full time Zoning and Property Maintenance person well underway with our multitude of Code Enforcement issues throughout the Township.
Zoning and Planning Boards have worked along with the Township Council to make necessary ordinance changes to meet the needs of a growing Manchester Township.
I believe our Data Processing Department led by Josh Schnoor and ably assisted by Mike Sabie, had another productive year. The following is a list of some major accomplishments.
- Replaced back-up solution.
- Implemented back-up solution for Police Department.
- Absorbed all police computer-related tasks.
- Consolidated telecom at a discount.
- Moved to a new maintenance contract at a discount.
- Networked multiple satellite locations for Tax Collector
- Facilitated Tax Collector and Finance Department migration of software to Edmunds.
- Implemented intricate networking to allow Edmunds/Vital to coexist peacefully.
- Facilitated absorption of Western Service Area to Town Hall.
This year the Purchasing and Personnel Office under the leadership of Maureen Kumitis has been concentrating on working with departments to reduce overall costs of goods and services. They have been working closely with departments assisting them in selecting vendors from State and local Cooperatives. They have recently purchased several new multifunctional copiers which allows us to network with larger machines and greatly reduces the need for expensive toner needed for desk top machines.
They are currently working with Conner Strong to implement an Employee Wellness Program. These programs have proven effective in reducing healthcare costs.
They continue to work with the Safety Committee to bring free training classes to Township employees, and they continue to encourage departments to train staff on safety awareness in order to reduce overall Workers’ Compensation claims.
Each year they continue to improve our Open Enrollment Benefit Fair by bringing requested information to Township employees.
The following two Departments while at the end of my report, are very high on the list of major accomplishments in the year 2013.
Diane Lapp our Director of Finance and our Chief Financial Officer along with Andrea Gaskill our Tax Collector, had another outstanding year, as a list of some of their accomplishments will show.
· During the calendar year, we upgraded our finance, taxes and utility system accounting and billing software. This was a major event during the year and, as with all transitions, there were some problems. Most of them have been ironed out.
· Due to the new software, the online tax/utility payment system was upgraded. The new system allows our residents to view their current year taxes and utilities billed and payments applied. As the years progress, our residents will see a history of their accounts.
· This is the first year we were a Calendar Year municipality. The transition went seamless as all deadlines required by the State were met.
· The Revenue Collection Division had an office renovation completed in-house to provide more office space. Three payment windows were added for privacy of our residents and for security of our personnel.
· Cynthia Walulak was promoted to Deputy Tax Collector after the retirement of Barbara Carter.
· The Western Service Area office was closed during 2013. The two office personnel from the Western Service Area were transferred to the Revenue Collections’ office. This provided for a central location for water and sewer billings.
· Our tax collection rate was 98.44%. The Revenue Collection Division is exceptional in their efforts to maintain such a high rate.
The very many accomplishments in the year 2013 are due to the outstanding leadership and dedication of Business Administrator Elena Zsoldos. As I reflect on the 2013 calendar year to list accomplishments, I realize how constantly proactive she has been.
The responsibilities of the Business Administrator, who functions under the Mayor, is to directly oversee the Purchasing, Personnel, Municipal Court, Tax Assessor, Senior Outreach and Data Processing Departments, as well as maintaining the day to day operations of the entire Township. Some specific accomplishments include, but are not limited to, the following.
- Continued to encourage a motivational environment during difficult financial times.
- Maintained a stable tax rate while formulating the 2013 municipal budget.
- Negotiated employee contracts with minimal increase while staying within the 2% Tax Levy guidelines.
- Received a number of grants totaling $500,929.00.
1. Municipal Alliance $ 16,840.00
2. Senior Outreach $125,000.00
3. Clean Communities $ 96,876.00
4. D.O.T. Grant $250,000.00
5. Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over $ 4,400.00
6. Bullet Proof Vest Program $ 7,806.00
- Continued to seek new, innovative shared service agreements.
- Secured an effective full time Zoning/Code Enforcement Officer.
- Answered a countless number of resident inquires.
Manchester continues to stay on the forefront of many projects and programs. Several of the new State mandates were already being implemented.
I, our Business Administrator, the Township Council, the entire Management Team and the employees are here to serve the public. We are innovators constantly looking for improvements. We have, and always will, do the most to accomplish what is in the best interest of the good people of Manchester.