Happy New Year, Mountain Lakes!
It is an honor to be the new Mayor of the great Borough of Mountain Lakes, and I am fortunate to serve on Council alongside Deputy Mayor William Barrett and Council Members Dan Happer, Peter Holmberg, Janet Horst, Cynthia Korman and David Shepherd. And thank you, Councilman Holmberg, for serving us so well as Mayor the last two years! We deeply appreciate your leadership and exceptional commitment to the Mountain Lakes community.
We also are grateful for the strong team we have in place serving the Borough. Mitchell Stern, our new Borough Manager, has deep experience in municipal government and a strong commitment to getting things done. Our Mountain Lakes Police Department and Volunteer Fire Department serve and protect our community with distinction, and our Borough Hall and Department of Public Works employees are dedicated to providing high quality services to our residents. In addition, we have many talented volunteers serving on our committees, commissions and boards, and in other roles throughout the community. Thank you to all!
2017 was a busy year for the Borough. Council adopted fiscally responsible operating and capital budgets, and significant work went into preparing a long-term capital plan for the Borough. Communication to residents was improved with more robust Broadcast e-mails, a quarterly news bulletin, and a newly launched FaceBook page. The Borough also conducted a citizen survey, the findings of which help guide decision-making. It was a successful year for our Recreation Department, with strong resident participation in an impressive array of programs and community events. In addition, significant progress was made on plans to address needed capital improvements at Sunset Dam and our Island Beach, Birchwood Lake, Borough Hall and Public Safety facilities. The Borough also relaunched the Economic Development Advisory Committee, which is taking a proactive approach to community development. And Mountain Lakes was awarded silver level certification (the highest level) by Sustainable Jersey for our environmental efforts. Of special note, New Jersey Monthly magazine named Mountain Lakes the #1 town to raise a family in Morris County and one of the top places to live in the entire state of New Jersey. What a nice recognition of how great a place Mountain Lakes is to call home!
As we move into the new year, the biggest challenge facing the Borough is balancing the need for significant capital investments in our facilities and infrastructure with the tax burden facing our residents. The new federal tax law has increased this burden for many and we need to acknowledge these new circumstances and respond effectively. As we navigate this challenge and others, and as we set our 2018 objectives, Council remains committed to fiscal responsibility, effective communications, the delivery of high quality services, and strong stewardship of our environmental resources and the unique character of our community. We will work together with our management team, employees, volunteers and community partners to ensure we are making smart decisions that best serve the current and future needs of the Borough.
And as always, we value the engagement of every Mountain Lakes citizen. Together with you, we will work to keep Mountain Lakes a special place to call home. We look forward to hearing from you!
Mayor Lauren Barnett