Councilmen Peter Holmberg, Mayor of the Borough, gave this address at the January 2016 Council Meeting
I want to thank everyone for coming tonight.
As tradition holds, I have the opportunity to present Mr. McWilliams with a gavel for his services as Mayor.
With an engraved name and year of service as Mayor. We thank you for your leadership in this past year and we ask that you only use it occasionally at home. Doug mentioned earlier, it’s an honor and it’s very humbling to serve up here with this council. We’re a group of very different individuals that come from a lot of different experiences and have different skill sets and whatnot, but I think we do a good job of bringing all these different perspectives in having a pretty robust dialogue with one another, a respectful dialogue, most importantly, in coming out with something that tends to be really what’s in the best interest of Mountain Lakes. That’s really what I think our discussions tend to be. I consider myself very lucky to serve with all of you up here.
We’re also very fortunate to work with the administration; with Rich and Michelle and the leadership team that’s here tonight. These group of individuals are very, very committed to providing service to Mountain Lakes 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365. They’re pretty amazing in everything that you do in terms of taking on change, taking on challenges. Nothing seems to deter you and your commitment to the town and we very, very much appreciate it.
The other group that I want to acknowledge is, we’re very blessed and very fortunate to work with the volunteers in Mountain Lakes. They’re an extraordinary collection of individuals who are unbelievably informed. They’re unbelievably dedicated and they’re very, very passionate in everything they do. The all serve as experts in their field, regardless of what committee or commission they may be serving, they really become experts. I think in combination with our administration, with those volunteers, we have a great opportunity here on council to make 2016 a very, very special year.
We have areas of focus each year. We set goals and you’ll hear more about them at the next council meeting here in January. They tend to be centered around four distinct areas. The first is fiscal responsibility. We want to make sure that we adopt a budget that is fiscally responsible. That we are spending money in the right places for operating in 2016 and that we’re planning accordingly going into 2017, 2018 for some of our capital investments. I think that’s going to be a big focus for us, as well as the Mountain Lakes resident and your entire tax dollar when you consider investments that are required on the Board of Ed side. We need to come together as one unit and take into consideration some of those different investments that are required.
We also look at efficiencies. Shared services is oftentimes synonymous with efficiencies. I think that’s true and we need to continue to enhance the shared services that we have, as well as explore new ones. We also have to take in account some different technologies that may be available to us that we’re able to enhance some of these efficiencies and capitalize on some efficiencies. I think that, along with operational opportunities and some cross training, I know within the staff, I think all of that will lead to greater efficiencies.
The third area is around communications. I think this is something that we have improved a great deal thanks to the Communications Committee and John Lester, over the last number of years. But I think we can continue to improve here. Where the website has certainly served as the tangible piece by which we’ve been more effectively communicating, we can now do so even better among Council with all the committees and commissions that are out there. We can do so with our residents. We can do so with the state. I think our ability to communicate and to do so in a clear, concise manner will help all of us. We want to create awareness out there in terms of opportunities or issues that exist, get people engaged and informed, and hopefully, again, we come out with some better decisions.
Finally, I think that communications will lead, then, right into our fourth area of focus and that’s community, and of course, building on the great volunteer base that we have. We want to capitalize on that, but we also want to take advantage of the natural resources that make Mountain Lakes a unique and special place. A lot of the facilities that Audrey and Mark work on from the DPW and recreation side, those are things that no other town has and we want to make sure we take advantage of those sort of things, as well as the various programs that are available. I think those are things that’ll also engage our residents and engage our volunteers.
Please stay tuned in terms of those four areas. Finance, community, communications, and efficiencies. We’ll look for specific goals and you’ll find them in each of the departments and each of the committee and commissions goals that we should all be looking to do these things. These should not be just Council goals, rather, they should be goals that everybody’s trying to be more efficient. Everyone is trying to be a little more fiscally responsible. Everyone is trying to communicate more effectively, and so on. I think those are goals that we’re going to make at every single level and areas of focus and see how we can pull that through in a very meaningful way.
As we establish those later in the month, we’ll make three promises on the behalf of council here.
We will maintain respectful, deliberate, and clear direction. We will continue to have the courage to make difficult decisions for what we feel is best for the greater good of Mountain Lakes. We also want to make sure that we continue to be good stewards for Mountain Lakes and what has been given to us, and what needs to be passed on for the next generation. I think those are all responsibilities and opportunities that we take seriously here. I thank you and on behalf of everyone up here for giving us the opportunity to serve in that capacity.