Mayor’s Corner

By Mayor Paul Aronsohn

Friday, March 6,  2015

Ridgewood News

 

Welcome to the March edition of the Mayor’s Corner – my monthly Ridgewood News column that seeks to make village government more accessible, more transparent, more user-friendly.

 

Council Agenda

 

The council will meet a few more times this month.  In addition to regularly scheduled meetings on March 11 and March 25, the Council will be holding one or more budget briefings during the month.    On the agenda will be downtown parking, the redevelopment zone, Village employment policies and a host of other important topics.

 

All of our meetings are open to the public.  Residents are encouraged to attend and participate. Please visit our website for more information – ridgewoodnj.net – or to watch the meetings online.

 

Budget

 

For the past two years (2013 and 2014), the Council adopted budgets with zero tax increases.    We were driven by a determination to provide relief to Village taxpayers and change the way we do government.  And with a new Village Manager at that helm, we have been busy over the past year making many important changes, all with a focus on greater customer service.

 

Against this backdrop, the Council met last week to begin discussions over the 2015 municipal budget.

 

True to form, Village Manager Roberta Sonenfeld organized the briefing in a more holistic, more strategic way than had been the case in the past.  All department heads sat at the table together with Council members.  All were invited to participate in any part of the discussion.   All were asked to focus on the “big picture” as well as the nuts and bolts of running their operations.

 

And true to form, Roberta and her team continued their focus on customer service – a theme that was central to all presentations.  From enhanced leaf pick-up to improved permitting to public safety, the emphasis was largely on our customers – Ridgewood residents – and the need to make our services most efficient, most effective, most responsive.

 

To that end, we are exploring some important investments in technology and personnel.   But with a 2% cap and a need to keep taxes as low as possible, the budget process will be a zero-sum-game in many respects.  We can’t have it all.  We can’t do it all.

 

Clearly, we have some big decisions ahead of us.

 

To view the videos from last week’s budget meeting and/or to find out our upcoming schedule, please visit the Village website at www.ridgewoodnj.net .

 

Parking

 

As promised, we are in the process of making ‘fixes” to our new downtown parking polices.  Specifically, we are trying to provide relief for our part-time Ridgewood commuters, our part-time downtown employees and our customers who want to spend multiple hours shopping and dining.

 

Unlimited Parking:  We are in the process of allowing unlimited parking in our Cottage Place lot.  No stickers.  No permits.    It’s fair – anyone can use it.  It’s easy — just pay the meter, and you are good to go.  Granted, to do this, we have to raise the rates from 50 cents per hour to 75 cents per hour, but I expect that the convenience and ease will be well worth it.

 

Daily Parking Pass:  We are in the process of creating a “day pass” for Ridgewood residents.  The $7 per day pass will allow Ridgewood residents to park in any lot at any time.

To facilitate these initiatives and to enhance the parking experience more generally, we will be introducing Park Mobile technology to all of our meters.   This will allow you to pay by quarters or by using cellular technology.  Stay tuned for a lot more information within the next few weeks.

 

Housing

 

The Planning Board is nearing the final stages of its hearing on high-density multi-family housing.  Having heard public comment from residents and closing arguments from lawyers, Planning Board members are planning to begin deliberations on March 17.

 

Mark Your Calendars

 

CBD Forum:  On March 18, Deputy Mayor Albert Pucciarelli will be hosting another Central Business District Forum.  It will be held at Christ Episcopal Church at 7:30pm and will focus on our favorite topic – parking.

 

Blood Drive:  On Sunday, March 15, Temple Israel and St. Elizabeth’s Episcopal Church will be holding an interfaith blood drive at the temple.  For more information, please call 201.251.3703.

 

Spring:  On March 20, spring arrives.  It’s about time!

 

Office Hours

 

I will hold my monthly office hours on tomorrow, Saturday, March 7 from 9 a.m. to 12 p.m. in the Village Hall Council Chamber (4th floor). All Ridgewood residents are welcome

 

Please contact the Village Clerk’s office (201-670-5500, ext. 201) to make an appointment, or just take a chance and stop on by. If you’ve got an idea, question or concern, I want to know about it….

 

Mayor Paul Aronsohn can be reached via email (paronsohn@ridgewoodnj.-net), through his

Twitter account (@paularonsohn) or through the Village Clerk’s office.