South Orange, NJ – Monday, March 18, 2013, Village President Alex Torpey gave his second annual 2013 State of the Village address to a room full of residents, employees, community leaders and local organizations, giving a recap of the past years accomplishment and plans for the future.
Among the initiatives mentioned, President Torpey highlighted a budget tool launching this week, putting all of the Village's budget data in an easy to read, visual format, that allows anyone to view and compare budget lines not just for this year, but going back to 2008. President Torpey noted that this was one of many open government initiatives the Village has undertaken and that with the launch of this tool, "Without a doubt, this is the most transparent municipal budget in the state of New Jersey."
President Torpey commended Village employees for their performance, two most recent examples being the recent delivery of a grant-funded $735,000 fire truck at only a $35,000 cost to South Orange taxpayers, and the over 5,000 hours public works employees spent cleaning up from Hurricane Sandy. He also discussed the Village's plan to institute best practices rarely seen in government, such as instituting a merit pay system that would reward high performing employees.
Economic development was discussed in depth, citing the many ribbon cuttings for new businesses last year and the recently launched South Orange Village Center Alliance, which is helping continue to spur business recruitment and economic development downtown, bringing in a larger commercial rateable base. Key downtown redevelopments include the upcoming groundbreaking for The Gateway apartments being built on the former Beifus site and the Third and Valley Redevelopment Project.
Torpey also noted the increasing use of several technology implementations, from license plate readers for the police department to online collaboration tools, such as Basecamp, which the recently launched Public Information & Marketing Committee uses to keep track of its projects allowing residents to participate in working on its initiatives from anywhere. That committee is responsible for the recent launch of an official South Orange Facebook page.
Torpey also noted another year of crime reduction in the Village and praised the police department for their work and the two officers that were recently promoted.
Throughout the address President Torpey noted the teamwork and collaboration required for all of the successes the village has seen, from advocating with NJ Transit to controlling rising government costs, and took a special moment at the end of the address to ask the three trustees who were in attendance - Deborah Davis Ford, Howard Levison and Mark Rosner - as well as all of the village employees and volunteers present to stand and thanked them, noting that "Our government isn't just about one person... it's about all of us working together towards common goals."
To watch the full address click the video link:
You can also read the summary of the address in the latest Gaslight by clicking below: