Mayor Vince Mazzeo delivers State of the City in Northfield

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Northfield Mayor Vince Mazzeo gave his annual State of the City speech  Wednesday, Jan. 2 at the city's annual reorganization meeting.

Members of City Council, honored guests, friends, family and residents of Northfield; in 2012, the City of Northfield tax rate remained stable with a zero municipal tax levy increase.

Being creative with revenues and sharing services provided a strong surplus and helped reduce expenditures while maintaining services that our residents expect.

The overall revenue in our construction department was down from 2011. The court revenue was also slightly down. The $245,000 the city received from the library in 2011, $55,000 was applied to the 2012 budget and the balance will be used for future budgets.

The library expansion will be completed in early 2013 providing a 1,200 square-foot meeting room and also updating the HVAC system and other improvements to the existing building.

The housing market saw a little added life, but we also had a record number of tax appeals.  The total valuation of our wonderful city is $986 million. And 95.34 percent of our taxes were collected. The city went out for permanent financing, receiving a double A bond rating. Our total debt is $9.2 million.

In 2012 City Council passed 183 resolutions and 10 ordinances. One major decision was the second phase of sharing municipal courts with Linwood. The shared service agreement allows court to be held in Northfield for both municipalities. This will provide about an $80,000 savings for our municipality in 2013.

The sewer interlocal agreement with Linwood was negotiated with a 50/50 split, which is a two-year agreement. The shared chief of police was a historical decision in 2011 and was agreed upon for another year. In 2013 talks will continue with shared services; for it to make sense it has to be a cost savings and we must maintain our services that our residents depend upon.

Another major decision made by council was updating our land use ordinance. Our master plan had some changes that will benefit our city in the future. The Atlantic City Country Club, if ever sold to a developer, will now have less of a developmental impact and cause less of a burden on city services. I want to thank the planning board members who worked on this committee.

The 2012 drainage projects completed were Marita Ann Drive, Leeds and Revere avenues. The awaited Roosevelt drainage project will begin in 2013 providing relief for many residents in this area of town who have been facing drainage problems for many years.

The first phase of Northfield Veterans Park was completed and dedicated in November. We are hoping for the completion of the park in 2013. Of course, a special thanks to those who donated funding for this project. What better way to recognize our veterans than having a park for them.   

The funding for the paving projects in 2013 was approved in the spring of 2012. Broad Street, from Dolphin to Putting Green, will be repaved. We received $220,000 from the municipal aid grant in 2011 for this project. This will be the first of a three-phase project. We intend to apply for further funding to pave all of Broad Street in the next few years.

The remaining paving projects are Burton Avenue from Evergreen to Cresson Avenue; and Aster, Dahlia, Elder from Burton to Walnut. Also Spruce Avenue from New Road to Maple, and north on Maple to Walnut. And Philmar Drive from Mill Road to Hollywood Drive and Birch Grove Park Road behind Public Works. These will close out the paving projects for 2013.  

The city received funding through the Community Development Block Grant for phase three of the accessible walkway. To date, 90 percent of the entire walkway has been funded through this grant.   Improvements to the baseball field fences were installed in 2012. Updates to the football building with new bathrooms are scheduled to be completed in 2013.

The advancement of technology with social media is becoming an important tool for getting information to our residents. Our website is continually being updated with valuable information that serves the community well. Email blasts continue to be an effective way to get the word out for municipal information and emergency events. The infamous derecho storm that plowed through Northfield on June 30 causing millions of dollars in damage to properties was too fast to predict. The days after with many homes and businesses without electric, Facebook became a valuable tool to our residents. Thanks to Councilwoman Lisa Brown and our emergency management team for their professional care.

Hurricane Sandy was more predictable and gave us time to warn residents of the pending storm. Although the shore communities were the hardest hit, I believe that our emergency management team was ready and gave our community the latest information through these new means of sharing information. 

Updates to public works and City Hall computers came to fruition and we must always look to technology to help government run more efficiently.

The police department had fewer checkpoints from 2011, unable to secure all grants that make these initiatives possible. The police department fleet saw the addition of three new vehicles. This was made possible through a lease program for which the city received state pricing. In 2012 we installed car video (cameras) in our police cars to protect our officers and civilians from frivolous lawsuits. The police department was instrumental in helping setup a time management system that will be up and running this month. This will make for a more efficient tracking of all city employees.

In 2013 a goal for the police is to put a license plate reading system in place to quickly identify unlawful vehicles and make our roadways safer.

The city has many events throughout the year that many enjoy and participate in. The Connolly Mile run before the July 4th parade has been going strong for over 30 years. National Night Out is another Northfield event that brings the community together in August. It is one of the best in the area. The Family Funfest in the fall has continued to attract large crowds with good family fun and local vendors adding their favorite food for all to enjoy. The holiday tree lighting brings our residents together to watch the arrival of Santa Claus. The events are made possible through many volunteers and city employees. I would like to thank all volunteers from the fire department, the ladies auxiliary, planning board, library trustees, Birch Grove Advisory, Northfield Neighborhood Watch, Northfield All Sports and Northfield Little League.  Our volunteers continue to be the strength of our community.

The decision making from City Council was delayed at times in 2012. The council mid-way through the year decided to go back to a work session prior to the council meeting. I think it benefitted the continuity of government and quality discussion made for productive meetings. I would like to thank City Council for its hard work and dedication in 2012. 

All city employees – thank you for your commitment and continued hard work for our residents. We all must remember that Northfield is a great community with a history of generations of families making their home here. We must all work together to provide the best for all who live here.

Looking forward to a great 2013, I want to wish everyone a happy, healthy and prosperous New Year.

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