State of the Borough 2018
By Mayor Kennedy O’Brien
This is the time of the year when it is my honor to express my thoughts, goals and plans for the upcoming year.
It has been a true honor for me to serve as your mayor. I am so grateful and appreciative of the faith and trust that you place in me. I never have, and never will take for granted your continued support for my administration. I believe one of the hallmarks has been my continued commitment to stay connected to the residents of Sayreville, and to be in touch with your concerns and issues.
Over the holiday season, I had the great opportunity to meet many new and old friends around town. Overwhelmingly, you all told me the same thing: you want me, as your mayor, and the governing body to work cooperatively and in a bipartisan manner with the goal of minimizing our spending and stabilizing property taxes while continuing to address quality-of-life issues.
You also told me that you want to see transparency in your governing body and the decisions that we make. I have an open door and make every decision in a transparent manner. Sometimes we don’t always agree on the manner in which decisions are executed but it is always first and foremost with the best interests of Sayreville guiding my every decision and action.
In 2017, Sayreville did a fantastic job in leveraging shared services with local communities like Old Bridge. By using shrewd, out-of-the-box thinking, and partnering with local communities, Sayreville has saved millions of dollars over the years I have been mayor.
We need to harness the momentum that we have achieved. We must continue to do more with less, stretching every dollar like we tighten our own spending belts. It is for this reason that I will once again propose to the council that we institute a moratorium on all new spending. As I have said numerous times from this seat, just like your family budget, if the money isn’t there you don’t spend it! You go without.
There is no reason why the municipal government should not follow the budgetary principles as you and your family do. I’d like to acknowledge the good work that our Chief Financial Officer and other municipal employees have done in recent years toward increasing our shared services effort by working with neighboring communities and saving money in the process.
As I mentioned, I spend plenty of time with constituents and I hear your message loud and clear. This year, I am challenging all the members on this dais to heed your request to work in a bipartisan manner, and put an end to petty partisan politics and work cooperatively to find more creative solutions that will stabilize property taxes as well secure additional revenue opportunities. Without a doubt, this will be a challenge; I am confident we can meet it.
Last year I offered this challenge to every member of the governing body, and I will do the same again this year. As we move forward in 2018, the one question we should ask ourselves before we make any decision or cast any votes is: “Is this good for Sayreville? As a matter of fact, I would even challenge us to take that question to a higher level and ask ourselves: “What is my motivation? What do I hope to accomplish by making this decision? If the answer has nothing to do with moving Sayreville forward, increasing revenue, stabilizing property taxes or improving the quality of life, is this something we should be pursuing?
For years now I have devoted a portion of my State of the Borough address to discuss highlights of the previous year and this is no exception. The most significant and biggest development that Sayreville is undertaking is the redevelopment of the NL site, now known as Riverton.
This is a project that has been in the works for nearly two decades. The land has required extensive clean-up – more than anyone could imagine – and more than $100 million has been invested, to date, as well as the construction of Parkway ramps at Chevalier Avenue. Now is the time to build.
There is a new developer at the site, North American Properties, which has done incredible work in Atlanta and other parts of the country. They are pledging to spend $2.5 billion in Sayreville to create what would be the most extensive, mixed-used project in the state. We have met with the development team and are optimistic this project will be moving forward in the months and years ahead.
My objective, as always, is ensuring the people of Sayreville benefit from this, or any, redevelopment. There are promises of millions of dollars in local tax revenue and thousands of local jobs. In my role as mayor, I will ensure these promises will be kept.
2017 was a difficult financial year, as we continue to do more with less. We made some difficult financial choices and this was evident in our budgetary process. As I have said in the past, there are no sacred cows in the municipal budget. All spending shall be scrutinized debated and evaluated as to the cost necessity. Anything that is not absolutely needed will be up for elimination. Any and all spending is subject to review and adjustment.
Not to be redundant, but every household needs to stick to a budget, so must the borough. To that end, all municipal positions will be reviewed in 2018, once again, and we will look to save money through attrition and ensure that we are eliminating all wasteful spending and activity.
This will be the year of the volunteer. It is my intention to shine a spotlight wherever possible on the good works of our volunteers. I hope it is not cliché to point out that volunteers truly are the backbone of our community. And they are a treasure. Volunteers work tirelessly throughout the year to make Sayreville the greatest town in the country and should be recognized for their efforts. I have often said they are the unsung heroes and we find them in every corner of our community.
I could spend days extolling the virtues of all the groups and volunteers that help make Sayreville the very special place it is and like family when one of us is in need we all really around and lift up and support one of our own. That is the fabric of our community. You volunteer your time so graciously and abundantly that a mere yearly nod is insufficient. You deserve so much more than a mere “thank you” at the beginning of the year.
My hope is that by shining a light on the work our volunteers are doing will encourage others who are not as active in our community to get more involved.
Looking into 2018, there is still much to be done here. We have only begun to scratch the surface on achieving Sayreville’s potential. I will continue to do my best to live up to the responsibilities that you have graciously placed in me.
And lastly, as always, until every man and woman is home safe and sound, I pray and hope that you continue to support their families. I would also ask that you continue to display the flag of this great country daily as a sign and symbol of your support for the extraordinary commitment and bravery of the members of our armed services.
Thank you. May God continue to Bless and protect The United States of America and our Servicemen and Women now guarding our gates of freedom.