Ocean View is a small, quaint town. This is a natural progression of the years and population growth. The fact that it is a nice place to live, and increasingly so in the last three years, is because elected officials have worked hard to ensure that the Town remains fiscally responsible, that we listen to what the residents want but we make our decisions based on what is best for the long-term good of the Town and avoid kneejerk reactions to momentarily hot topics.
We have tried to make it more business-friendly, but small businesses — ones that fit into the pattern of the town and don’t overwhelm it.
The entire town council plays a role in these actions and decisions, but as mayor, I have taken the lead in making sure that we focus on the priorities and move forward on those priorities. The first thing I did after being sworn into office was to reach out to all of the HOAs in the town and offer to meet with them and listen to what they had to say about their communities and the relationship of those communities with the Town. The words “drainage,” “speeding” and “sidewalks” were heard early and often.
It has been one year since I assumed the office of mayor of Ocean View, and it has been a busy year.
In general, Ocean View is in good financial shape, and this year’s budget reflects the sensible and realistic outlook of the Town staff and the town council. The town council approved the staff recently joining the State program for health benefits and it has been a disjointed year due to different expiration and renewal dates, which forced duplicative deductibles onto the staff.
To compensate for this, understanding that it was a transitive period, the council agreed to fund the program to a higher level, but we are now awaiting answers from the State as they deal with their healthcare funding shortfall. We’ll see what the future brings on this subject.
The County Council created the 2015 Economic Development & Infrastructure Grant, and Ocean View received $10,000 of that grant.
We still stand under the sword of Damocles in regards to whether or not the State will slash the Municipal Street Aid. If they do, that will be a substantial increased cost to Ocean View.
The Town continues to financially support the Millville Volunteer Fire Company which is a fair trade for the wonderful service they provide to our community.
The contentious issue of speeding on Woodland Avenue was brought to the forefront and dealt with after 10 years of kicking the can down the road. Similarly, I have gotten directly involved in the issue of drainage and the difficulty of obtaining easements from those homeowners involved, and we are making progress on this topic.
We have had to deal with the poor results of resurfacing of certain streets and are talking with the paving contractor and town engineer on how best to resolve the issue.
Looking forward, the continuing issues will be: (1) trying to maintain health care benefits for Town employees at prices both the Town and the employees can cope with; (2) drainage will remain a priority for the next few years and; (3) continuing to comply with the ADA requirements for sidewalks.
I thank outgoing council member Robert Lawless for his six years of fine dedicated service to the Town and welcome his replacement, Carol Bodine. We have an excellent town council and Town staff, and I look forward to working with them in the next year as we continue to look out for the best interests of the citizens of Ocean View.