2012 State of the Village G OV IN 2012: D OING MORE WITH LESS By Vi!age President Alex Torpey Budget. In 2012 the expectations overhaul the website, in addition to Dear fellow residents,are high and the budgets are tight. For expanded equipment/training foryears South Orange has been a e m e r g e n c y r e s p o n d e r s . We a r e Looking back on this past year,responsible steward, keeping tax planning to add online tools to our I can hardly believe how much hasincreases low, while maintaining website that will allow residents to ﬁle happened. I graduated Columbias e r v i c e s t h a t h e l p m a ke o u r complaints & request services, apply High School in 2005, not knowingcommunity the amazing kind of place for permits instantly online and even that I would come back home afterto live that it is. This year, we via an app on your mobile phone. college in 2009 and run for oﬃceintroduced a budget that reduced Public Safety. The 2011 crime only two years later; not even runappropriations by over $1 million, statistics reﬂect a 10% decrease in for oﬃce, but actually win! And Iwithout layoﬀs or service cuts, with S o u t h O r a n g e v e r s u s i n 2 0 1 0. am deeply honored to be able toour tax levy well below the state- Neighborhood Watch is working and serve my hometown in this capacity.mandated 2% cap. active resident involvement is on the It has been truly amazing to We have reformatted our budget r i s e . T h e S o u t h O r a n g e Po l i c e work together to better Southprocess and made all the information Department appreciates this Orange’s future with people that Iavailable online in a spreadsheet so important citizen involvement & grew up with, while getting to knowanyone can crunch the numbers. The credits many arrests to the proactivity many more people who have workedexpectations are high, but we’re of our neighborhood watch members. for years on South Orange’s behalf.deﬁnitely up to the challenge. Learn In 2011, the Police and Fire I have been privileged to get tomore at: southorange.org/budget. Departments, Rescue Squad, and SHU know many of you, and I hope to Technology. Being cost-eﬀective held an active shooter drill in meet more of you in the comingisn’t just about being well organized; coordination with county and state years. On behalf of the Trustees andit’s about using the best technology a g e n c i e s . We a r e co m m i t te d to staﬀ here, I would like to personallyplatforms available. We’re hoping to providing training opportunities on thank our residents, business ownersmove towards Gmail instead of in- cutting-edge public safety methods and students for your involvementhouse exchange servers, which will and practices, i n t e r- a g e n c y and support. Your talents,save us money, save staﬀ time and cooperative exercises, and the knowledge and commitment areallow us take advantage of online expansion of our Community vital to our success.collaboration tools. In the Clerk’s Emergency Response Team. (CERT)oﬃce, we are exploring using tablets/ We are expanding the use of Growing up in South Orange, Ilaptops for all trustees, keeping all security cameras & Automatic License have witnessed the progress we haveagendas, minutes and documents P l a te Re a d e r s ( A L P R s ) . T h e s e made and seen the Village ﬂourish.digital, which will lower costs and important, cost-eﬀective tools greatly I look forward to many more yearsimprove our productivity. We have assist our oﬃcers in preventing and of continued growth and prosperityapplied for a grant for our Oﬃce of solving crimes. in our community and I know that,Emergency Management, which will, Our police department continues as good as South Orange is today;if we get it, enable us to purchase to be ahead of the curve in their use of the best is yet to come.#advanced web software that will allow social media and now e-ticketing,us to have better access to alert toolsduring an emergency, allow quicker which reduces paper use, reduces costs (without increase number of tickets Alexaccess to placing emergency written), and improves efficiency.notiﬁcations online and completely #
Communication. Since assuming office, I have information management systems that will providecommitted to making sure communication is a top unprecedented access to public documents.priority for the Village. In addition to frequent email Personally, I have been involved in state-wideupdates, blog posts, social media interactions (especially discussions aimed at improving the Open Public Meeting/during last year’s storms) and video updates, we have been Record Acts; paving the way for more open governmentgenerating more content for the website - in fact, we have in New Jersey with South Orange poised as a leader of theincreased website visits by almost 30%. The oﬃcial South digital government transparency movement.Orange Twitter has been re-activated to assist in updates Sustainability. South Orange continues to be aand emergency notiﬁcations, with many more social leader in green government, from our project of installingmedia outreach strategies currently being explored. solar panels at the DPW facility, to purchasing hybrid My oﬃce hours in Village Hall have been a great police vehicles, to winning a grant for Electric Vehiclesuccess, and I have truly enjoyed the many conversations charging stations, to being an award-winning walkableI’ve had with community members, & encourage downtown where owning a car is not even necessary. Oureveryone to stop by. jitney’s are biodiesel, our residents do things like create We are re-structuring our Board of Trustees meetings www.southorangeenvironment.org and we have routinelyto allow community groups to present and increase public won awards from Sustainable Jersey for green initiatives.input, as well as looking for web-based solutions to Governance & Management. I have been workingimprove communication and provide virtual community closely with the trustees and our dedicated village staﬀ todialog and suggestion spaces. review and improve internal procedures in the daily But we can always do better. And I welcome operations of the Village. Although not always the mostfeedback and suggestions as to how we can continue to exciting or visible work, proper internal organization isbetter engage with residents and bring them into the critical. Formalizing procedures and policies andgovernance process. improving use of technology will ensure the most cost- Transparency. I believe most of you are aware of eﬀective and productive use of our amazing municipalmy commitment to open government, and I am fortunate staﬀ to deliver the high-quality services that is vital to theto be able to continue to build upon South Orange’s past quality of living and character of living in South Orange.leadership in this ﬁeld, including strict anti pay-to-playlaws, live online meetings, and online availability of public These are only a few highlights of ourdocuments. But we continue to innovate. Meeting progress. Visit southorange.org/SOTV toformats have been updated and we will be implementing learn more and watch the entire address!CAPITAL PROJECTS AND REDEVELOPMENT Village Hall “Beifus” site (S.O. Commons) South Orange Public Library. On track of a buildings planning project funded Planned for 2012-2014, the restoration This vacant lot, too long an eyesore in the in part by a grant from the Garden State and renovation of Village Hall, our largest core downtown, is on track for mixed Historic Preservation Trust Fund to capital project, will save hundreds of use development in 2012, including 57 renovate the Connett building and expand thousands in repairs and utility costs and apartments and retail space. The Planning the library’s offering of services. not just provide a functional government Board granted ﬁnal site plan approval and center but also preserve this beautiful & another new downtown landmark is Fire Truck. A $700,000 grant was historic iconic Village landmark. coming soon! procured to purchase a new ladder truck at only an approx. $35k cost to taxpayers. IT/Networks. As part of the Village Rahway River Improvements Third Street and Valley Hall renovation, we are investing in Building on years of improvements to the This Village owned property, currently a creating a state of the art ﬁber optic Rahway River Project, we have continued commuter parking lot and Rescue Squad network between all of our municipal to improve and beautify our river site, is being studied for redevelopment as buildings. corridor, securing millions in grants from apartments, retail and a parking garage to Sloan St. We are working to improve the state and federal government. serve commuters and shoppers. This trafﬁc ﬂow, parking, way ﬁnding, drop-off would bring in a large new ratable and and pedestrian access on Sloan St. as a vital improved parking into our downtown. component to downtown revitalization. WAYS FOR YOU TO LEARN MORE & GET INVOLVED We are always looking for volunteers to help with speciﬁc projects, especially related to the downtown, public information and public safety. Information is available at southorange.org, you can email me at firstname.lastname@example.org, follow twitter.com/ SouthOrangeNJ or stop by my oﬃce hours every Tuesday at 3:30! You can also keep updated by following me at facebook.com/alextorpey and twitter.com/alextorpey.