Mt. Olive State Of The Township Address

Council President, members of the Town Council, municipal

employees, friends, relatives and fellow residents of Mount Olive,

I once again thank you for the opportunity to report on the State of

the Township of Mount Olive this year, 2017.

It gives me great pleasure to advise all of you that the budget I

intend to submit to the Town Council will, for the fourth year in a

row, contain no tax increase for municipal services. Further,

through continued conservative fiscal management, the

projections looking forward for 2018 and 2019 remain sound.

Although we, collectively, have successfully held the line on

taxes, those efforts and results have not come at the expense,

and/or resulted in a reduction of, the municipal services we

provide. To the contrary we continue to improve and expand

those services. I take pride in knowing that our efforts do not go

un-noticed. One resident, who follows my facebook page,

recently wrote that she "loves our community and all that it has to

offer." I, and many residents who have stopped to talk to me

around town, share that same sentiment.

Mount Olive has come a long way in the few years that we have

governed. I see no reason to believe that 2017 and beyond will

be any different.

We, as the elected officials, of course, cannot take all of the credit

for Mount Olive’s successes. Obviously, government works

through the department heads, supervisors, employees and

residents of the Township. To all of our employees, I thank you

for your efforts on the residents' behalf and take pride in your

successes, some of which I am now going to touch base upon.


The administration continues to coordinate all aspects of local

government as between the municipal departments, local

businesses and residents. Through the use of facebook, radio,

newspapers, flyers and other media, we have posted over 7,000

announcements, events, job openings, programs, employment

opportunities, weather and health concerns, as well as special

notifications. Our efforts of communicating with the residents far

exceed any of the surrounding municipalities.

We are continuously working on developing and re-developing

properties, in an effort to build and sustain or commercial ratable

base throughout the Township.

Responding to employees; concerns and recent events, we've

implemented additional security measures in town hall, including

panic buttons in all departments and additional emergency exits in

council chambers, finance and planning.

Along with our building security measures, all staff went through

mandatory active shooter training, conducted by Chief Steve

Beecher. The first active shooter drill included a practice run of

building evacuation.

This year the Township also purchased three automated external

defibrillators (AEDs) that have been placed in various locations in

Town Hall. Eight staff members were trained on how to use the


In 2016, the Township was faced with the health and safety issue

related to the storage of propane and butane railroad tankers

within the township. At present, I am pleased that no such

tankers currently remain in Mount Olive. We have requested that,

when Morris County renews its lease with the Railroad in spring

2017, that such storage be prohibited.

Now that the Morris Hunt/Morris Chase developments are near

completion, the Township has taken over all public services

including street lighting and snow removal, as well as the public

water system.

A number of measures were taken by the Township to provide

relief for residents of Sunset Drive, due to the proximity of their

homes to Turkey Brook Park. These measures include new

fencing, additional signage, new trees, and redirecting some of

the field lighting.

Last year, Givaudan generously donated $32,550 to the Township

to fund improvements to Drakesbrook Park for the lacrosse

program. This donation will fund a new park entrance sign, a new

solar powered scoreboard, a storage shed and a practice wall.

Substantial work was done on the Seward House to stabilize the

structure. 80% of the work was funded by the Morris County

Historic Preservation Trust and included roof repair, masonry

restoration, repair and replacing portions of the cupola, and

repairing and/or replacing windows and doors.

The restoration of the Baptist Church is nearly complete. All that's

outstanding are lime washing the exterior and the installation of

ADA accessible restrooms. This year, with 80% funding from the

Morris County History Preservation Trust, completed work

included moisture protection, doors, finishes, installation of

plumbing and electrical, and restoration of metals and carpentry.

Due to the large number of vehicles and the large expense of

vehicles the Township purchases each year, we formed a Fleet

Committee consisting of Councilman Alex Roman and

representatives from finance, administration and DPW. This year

the committee reviewed proposed purchases, their cost and their

justification prior to the requests coming before Council.

Thanks in part to Council President Joe Nicastro’ request, the

Township purchased two flag donation boxes so that residents

and business owners may dispose of their flags according to

federal protocol. These boxes are located in Town Hall and at

Turkey Brook Park.

After the blizzard in January and the numerous issues that

occurred within the apartment complexes, Administration and

DPW met several times with the property managers of Village

Green, Eagle Rock, Oakwood Village to assist them in developing

a plan for both staging of residents; vehicles as well as timely

snow removal, so that residents are not trapped on the premises

and so that Township emergency vehicles can access the

property during weather events.

After NJDEP notified us that their standards for certain types of

chemical contamination became much stricter in 2015, the

number of affected properties increased from one to 35.

Administration continues to work closely with DEP to install

waterlines to all of these properties. While we had optimistically

hoped the project would be completed this year, mapping all of

the wells on each property took longer than expected. The project

will commence in early 2017 and we hope it will be completed by


The NJDOT re-paved Route 46 from Sand Shore Road to Old

Wolfe Road this year. The project, with the coordination of the

Township, went smoothly with a minimum impact on traffic.

This year, Atlantic Ambulance took over Hackettstown Regional

Medical Services EMS service in Mount Olive. However, the

service has remained the same. As with HRMS, Atlantic pays the

Township rent to house their ambulances in the Blue Atlas

building. This rent goes into a dedicated fund that pays for

ambulance services provided to Mount Olive residents who do not

have the resources to pay for the services.

The Township received an in-kind grant from NJDOT that will

examine all of our current trails planning documents and our

existing trails, and develop a comprehensive plan of our current

trails, potential connections, potential new trails, potential funding

sources and an implementation plan.

Finance Department Accomplishments

The Finance Department, as always was outstanding in 2016.

Some of those accomplishments included:

A finalized tax list for 2016 which resulted in a net valuation

taxable that was $35,000,000 higher than it was in 2015.

They handled a total of 38 county appeals and 8 state appeals

which were filed in 2016. Out of the approximately 8,500 tax line

items, the appeals represented less than 1% of our ratable base.

The anticipated current fund balance at year end was more than

one million dollars higher than it was in 2015. That end of the

year fund balance is the largest in the last 16 years and is directly

attributable to the collection rate, added assessments and

conservative budgeting.

The year end collection rate exceeded the rate in 2015. The 2015

rate was 99.03%.

The reverse tax appeals pursued against five apartment

complexes in Town netted over $240 million in added assessment

which resulted in over $900,000 in additional revenue to the


The 2015 audit was finalized with no audit recommendations for

the eighth year in a row. The LOSAP audit, arbitrage audit and

worker's compensation audits were also finalized with no


The October bond sale resulted in a credit rating increase for the

Township of one step below AAA. The sale also resulted in

almost $200,000 of premium earnings for the Township and a

very low interest rate.

The annual tax sale resulted in $685,000 of premiums. In the

event a lien is not redeemed within five years, those premiums

will escheat to the Township.

The added assessment list for 2016 resulted in a net increase of

$28 million in prorated assessment and $831,000 to the Township

in additional revenue.


The IT department upgraded the township phone system with

Lightpath’s IP based phone system, with an annual cost savings

of approximately $3,000.00. The installation provided 125 IP

based phones to end users with an overall better quality of

service as well as full redundancy in the event of a power outage.

Township internet speed has increased from 50mb to 100mb. The

increase allows for faster downloads and less bottlenecking of

data which includes cloud storage, offsite backs-ups, video

surveillance, file transfers and internet browsing.

Lightpath has also agreed to credit us the remaining months on

our Avaya maintenance contract which covers our current PBX

phone system at $a savings of approximately $17,000.00.

With the implementation of Livestream, we will be able to connect

with our community during town council meetings. Viewers can

watch on any device, including desktops, tablets and mobile


Department of Public Works

The Department of Public Works had numerous l substantial

accomplishments in 2016. Those included:

The 2016 road resurfacing program which included curbing and

resurfacing at the South Sutton Park area of Flanders on

Hermanne, Deerpath. The second section, Downstream,

Pheasant Court is to be completed in 2017. In 2016, DPW paved

the Kevin Drive/Bennington Road sections of Bennnington

Woods; Flanders Bartley section, Lozier, Station Road and Old

Wolf Road also completed.

Drainage was also improved on Drakestown Road, River Road,

Firetower, sections of Sandshore, Crease Road, Grant Court, and

Ridge Road. .

Tree removal resulted in over 75 dead or hazardous trees cleared

from the township right of way and detention basins.

Full depth pothole repairs were accomplished on Flanders

Drakestown, Tinc Road and River Road. .

Sanitation continues garbage collection within Chester Borough,

including household dumpster service and large item pickup. The

large item sticker program has had a revenue return of over


DPW also revamped the residential recycling center to be more

resident friendly for drop of recycling materials.

In 2016, acquisition of the Morris Chase water system from

American water was accomplished which has resulted in lower

residential water rates to the residents and improved water supply

within the Goldmine estates water area.

DPW also installed a 300,000 gallon holding tank at the Flanders

sewer plant for additional holding capacity, in part, to allow the

construction of the Regency at Flanders.

Fleet Maintenance

The Fleet Department that was put in place by the current

administration in January 2013 has become an integral part of

Mount Olive's DPW, and the decision to bring Fleet Maintenance

in house has proven to be a great success.

For the 4th year running Fleet Maintenance has surpassed its

expectations and been under budget. By continued use and

refinement of the Fleet Master Plan, vehicle down time and costs

have continued to drop.

Fleet has been able to keep over 99% of all repairs in-house.

Recreation Department

The Recreation Department held 19 special events in 2016 with

more than a total of 32,000 attendees, 198 business sponsors

and over 65 volunteers. These

Five new events debuted, including the Mermaid, Pirate and

Princess Lunch at the Fairy & Pirate Festival, the Pajama Run 5K,

the Township-wide Garage Sale, Glow Run 3K, Hot Cocoa 5K

and Winterland. Returning favorites were the Cabin Fever

Reliever, Lego Tech Festival with the Mt. Olive Robotics Team,

Fairy & Pirate Festival, Power Wheels Races, Raiders of the Lost

Park Mud Run (215 children and 335 adults participated), Mt

Olive Week Carnival, three Movie Nights at the Park, Touch-a-

Truck, Food Trucks & Fireworks, Starry Skies Craft Beer Festival,

and Monster Mash.

Approximately 1200 adults participated in 44 programs and

approximately 2,300 children participated in 225 programs during

the year. Over 900 children participated in 16 summer camp

programs which were held in July and August.

Pirates Cove at Mount Playmore opened on July 16th and

continued to be popular the rest of the summer.

Mandatory fingerprint background checks for volunteer coaches

began in January. So far, over 400 volunteers have participated.

Planning Department

The Planning Department was actively engaged in a number of

projects in 2016 beyond the typical responsibilities to assist the

general public with questions concerning zoning, the enforcement

of the Township’s Land Use Ordinance.

Site plan applications approved by the Planning Board in 2016

included: use variance/site plan approval to utilize property on

Flanders Netcong Road for storage and maintenance of

equipment; use variance/site plan approval to Motion Kia to utilize

vacant parcel on Harris Lane for storage of vehicles; preliminary

and final site plan approval was granted to Scannell Properties for

construction of 48,300 square foot building in the Foreign Trade

Zone on International Drive; preliminary and final site plan was

granted for construction of two story building consisting of 9,600

square feet on Gold Mine Road to be used as office/warehouse

facility; preliminary and final site plan approval was granted to

Mavis Tire to construct a new retail store consisting of 6,762

square foot on 259 Route 206; Mountain Ridge Estates (Simoff)

obtained amended preliminary and final site plan approval and

minor subdivision approval to create a separate lot for the 54 low

and moderate income units. The new owners of the Sutton Plaza

Shopping Center obtained minor subdivision approval to

subdivide the one lot into three lots; McDonalds Restaurant, PNC

Bank and the main shopping center building (Weis/Tractor

Supply) and the freestanding building (Subway/Verizon).

The Planning Department also worked on draft ordinances to

expand the range of permitted uses to include residential use in

the FTZ-4 zone district, to help aid in the Township's effort to

redevelop the old BASF site and surrounding properties.

The Township also continued in its efforts to acquire the former

Cobblestone Nursing home site to remove the abandoned

buildings and to redevelop the site with affordable housing

consistent with the Township’s COAH requirements.

Building Department

As of the time that the information was provided to me, the

Building Department had collected approximately $640,000 in

2016, with $585,000 staying within the Township as revenue.

During the period of January 1, 2016 to November 28,

2016(present), the Building Department issued a total of 2,200

new and updated permits.

The department had a total of almost 5,000 inspections: 1,900 for

building, 1,400 for electric, 1,100 for plumbing, and 465 for Fire.

The department also issued 61 permits for new homes within the



The biggest change in the court system last year involved State

mandated bail reform. That reform has led to a fundamental shift

in how both courts and police departments process arrests.

Mount Olive continues to provide through a recently negotiated

contract court services to Netcong Borough. Mount Olive will see

at least a 2% increase in fees from this service agreement each

year for the next five years.

Health Department

The Health Department:

Monitored events and progress and participated in public meeting

regarding Combe Fill North well water contamination.

Six (6) private wells ran dry; all affected properties were issued

permits for alterations; a few received supplemental assistance

from the Township Water & Sewer Department.

After a joint investigation with the Zoning, Health and Police

Departments, the Young Health Spa (193 Rt. 206) was forced to

close due to failure to fulfill licensing requirements.

Animal Control:

There were 28 dogs impounded, 25 dogs reclaimed, 1 dog

adopted, 1 dog euthanized; 13 cats impounded, 2 cats reclaimed

and 1 cat euthanized.

In terms of our shared service contracts, there were 68 responses

to Byram Township animal control calls and 49 responses to

Washington Township. Animal Control issued a total of 697 cat

licenses, and 2447 dog licenses.

The Health Department conducted 469 inspections which

included: 136 retail food inspections and 899 inspections of multi-

dwelling units.

In total the Health Department issued 53 summonses for

numerous violations.

With respect to health education/community outreach, the Health


Arranged for a Registered Dietician to present at Senior Center;

Purchased a Booth and displayed Department services at the

Carnival, Purchased a one page article in MORE for an article on

winter health tips;

Held two after-hours Food Handler's Course for Mt. Olive Non-

profit Organizations; trained over 60 volunteers;

Created a new Health Department website that showcases

services for residents;

Created Zika Virus education posters and placed in several

venues in town;

Conducted two (2) Retail Food Handler's training courses for local

food businesses;

Posted a total of 183 health education messages and health

department events on the Department's Facebook page; resulting

in 321 "Likes" with "reaches" over 600 each for some;

As to public health nursing, the Health Department:

Held one (1) Female Cancer Screening; two (2) abnormal results

referred and being followed;

Held 2 Blood Screenings; eighty-seven (87) residents referred for

nutritional counseling and/or follow-up;

Held three (3) Child Health Clinics; 92 vaccinations given;

Held nine (9) Influenza Clinics; vaccinated 351 residents;

Held one (1) Skin Cancer Screening; 13 residents screened;

Held one (1) Stroke Screening;

Held one (1) Bone Density Screening;

Conducted twenty (20) Blood Pressure Screenings;

As to senior transportation:

Ridership in all categories increased every month compared to

2015, and included but was not limited to 225 medical transports

and 1054 meals delivered.

New programs created for seniors in 2016 included the Walking

Club, exercise program and monthly trips to Wal-


The senior meetings included invites from such groups as the

Heartbeat Dance Center’s National Champion Tap Quartet and

the CMS 4th Grade Chorus.

Each month at least one "Special Trip" was coordinated; including

trips to, the Rockaway Mall, Cracker Barrel, IHOP, Black River

Barn, Mohawk Lake, ITC Shopping & Lunch, Sun High Orchard,

Cliff's Ice Cream, Chatterbox, Davey’s Dogs.

Fire Marshall

The Fire Marshall's office conducted a total of approximately 2500

premises and 468 smoke detector inspections among the three

towns Mount Olive provides such services for through shared

service agreements.

Mount Olive Police Department

As always the Mount Olive Police Department had many

successes in 2016. The pride that the community has for our

police force is something that gets communicated to me on a daily

basis. Some of the 2016 police department accomplishments


NJSACOP LEAP Accreditation Re-Certification was awarded

March 10, 2016;

Captain Beecher graduated from Rutgers CPM in May of 2016,

and became Chief of the Department upon the retirement of Chief

Mark Spitzer after 30+ years of dedicated service;

The police department helped prepare building change

recommendations and training related to safety. They conducted

the first township employee active shooter drill in November of


They instituted Law Enforcement Against Drugs (LEAD) program

in all elementary schools;

Lt. Austenberg started the MOPD Pink Patch Project in October to

promote Breast Cancer Awareness;

Officer Elbaum Initiated the Coffee with a Cop Program to

stimulate community officer communication and conversation;

With regard to calls, the Police Department responded to


1,100 alarms;

1,300 ambulance requests;

25 assaults;

43 burglaries;

14,000 business check incidents;

4,100 residential check incidents;

315 vacant home checks;

12,300 directed patrols;

108 theft/shoplifting incidents;

781 traffic crashes;

42 criminal mischief incidents;

139 incidents of harassment;

180 noise complaints;

Patrol also responded to several drug overdose calls in 2016 and

were able to save 7 victims by administering Nasal Narcan.

3 officers assigned to Patrol received the Morris County 200 Club

Award for Valor in 2016 for their actions at 2 residential fires

where they entered the structures and saved 2 lives.

The police department closed down three (3) massage parlors as

a result of prostitution/massage ordinance.

They made an arrest in an employee theft at Laser Technologies

involving over $225,000.

176 cases investigated by the Investigations Division.

25 Deaths Investigated.

What I have included in this address is only a small sampling of

what our Township Departments and employees accomplished

over the course of the last year, and what they accomplish on a

daily basis. Let us not forget that they are on the front line

everyday working to make Mount Olive a better safer place to live.

To that end, I congratulate all of the employees in all of the

successes of 2016 and look forward to greater achievements in


I would like to thank the Town Council, our Business

Administrator, Laura Harris, and all of our municipal employees

for a job well done in 2016. May you all and have a happy,

healthy and prosperous New Year.

Sincerely and with great appreciation,



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