Officials and residents at the 2015 reorganization meeting pose as Team Oceanport. Photo by Catherine Galioto
OCEANPORT: The year ahead will continue to be filled with reconstruction of the borough due to superstorm Sandy, just as the year behind made several strides in reconstruction, borough officials said at the Jan. 1 reorganization meeting.
Borough Administrator John O. Bennett recapped 2014 as a year the borough was able to re-establish its library, as also provide homes for the police and public works departments, which were all severely impacted from the storm.
The work of finding the borough its town hall is still underway, said Mayor Michael Mahon in his annual address, who also lauded the borough's employees and its residents for doing so much - often volunteering - to help rebuild Oceanport.
"So many of the people here in the audience, so many of the people out there in Oceanport, are to be commended," Mahon said. "We would not be where we are today were it not for you."
The mayor asked the audience and officials there to represent Team Oceanport in a group photo; the term would be Oceanport's own version of "Jersey Strong" or "Ortley Strong" used in communities elsewhere to rally local rebuilding efforts.
Bennett and the mayor said other items on the 2015 agenda were stabilizing the municipal budget, and being active participants in issues facing Monmouth Park and the Fort Monmouth Economic Revitalization Authority.
Councilman Robert Lynch will serve as council president, who said in his term on the council he has been rewarding, and that in the year ahead he hopes to continue to help find the borough ways to save on costs, and also to increase its revenue.
"The job is invigorating and energizing," Lynch said. "We've made some nice strides in the last year. We are on the threshold of doing more things of significance. I'm glad to continue the work, and hope to find ways to find revenue, not by raising taxes."
"Lynch is known for debating the costs and budget, and while the meetings may have gone long into the night, he has helped the borough save money, and we are very thankful for that," said Councilwoman Ellynn Kahle in her council remarks.
Incumbents Kahle and Richard Gallo were sworn in to their new three-year terms on the council, while Christopher Paglia was sworn in to his one year unexpired term.
Paglia said he was honored to be voted in to the term, having been appointed in 2014 to fill the vacancy created by the resignation of William Johnson.
"I got a call one evening from the mayor, saying he had to submit names for the vacancy, and would I be interested. The list was ten names long, so my odds were one in ten, and then it became one in three, and the next week there I was sitting on the council," said Paglia jokingly.
But he seriously commended the role as one he was honored and privileged to have, saying Oceanport is a great place, and that over his service, he's had the opportunity to meet and work with officials and volunteers to make the borough even greater.
"It's an honor to be a voice of the residents, that's what I will continue to work to be," Paglia said.
The borough also set its professionals, with the mayor appointing Katherine Laporta to serve as deputy borough clerk, Jeanne Smith as clerk, Gregory Mayers as chief financial officer, John E. Butow as assessor, Peggy Warren as tax collector and Richard Thompson as municipal court judge.
Also present was Monmouth County Freeholder Director Gary J. Rich, Sr. who said he came to thank Oceanport for its rebuilding efforts and also spoke of the county agenda for 2015, such as working to create a budget with flat taxes.
"I wanted to come here to say thank you, thank you for all the work you do," Rich said. "We've been working hard at the county to deliver four years of a zero percent tax increase. And we're going to try to do it again this year, but with each year it becomes harder, but we are all five of the county freeholders working for you the taxpayers."