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Kelaher Begins Second Term as Mayor; Councilmen Hill, Sevastakis to Lead Council

Annual reorganization meeting sees parting words from Councilman McGuckin

2011 is over, but many of the same issues, projects and faces will be around in 2012, officials at the annual reorganization meeting of Toms River said this evening.

Sworn into his second term, laid out the agenda for the coming year.

He said he expects the 2012 budget to again be challenging to put together, in that state aid levels have fallen off dramatically over his last term.

However, the mayor pointed to 2011 as a year of great cooperation and hard work in spite of financial obstacles. Kelaher said that they literally weathered the storm in 2011, facing the additional cost of blizzards while being forced to keep budgets under a 2 percent cap.

2012

Kelaher said the significant financial hurdles of 2011 were met by shared sacrifice — renegotiating contracts, maintaining vacancies and scheduling furloughs — and that 2012 looks to be another year of the same.

“Ultimately we will wait to see what the governor’s budget will be, that’s in February,” Kelaher said. “Unfortunately it’s hard to define what the budget will be without the state aid projection.”

In his speech to the council and audience, Kelaher pointed to progress on longstanding projects that should make continued headway in 2012. While a softball field complex is significantly underway, projects such as a new animal shelter and municipal courtroom should break ground soon, Kelaher said.

Sworn In

will serve as council president. Hill was also sworn in to his first term as a councilman-at-large, having previously served as a ward councilman.

will serve as council vice president. Sevastakis and were also sworn into their terms as at-large councilmen for Toms River.

Each of the three Republican thanked voters for their support and pledged to continue to work alongside the mayor to work toward keeping services level while finding greater efficiencies.

Wittmann, who served as a mayor previously on the Dover Committee, repeated his favorite quote from Thomas Jefferson: “I hope our wisdom will grow with our power, and teach us, that the less we use our power the greater it will be.”

The council extended the contracts of the township attorney, planner, auditor and other professionals through the end of January.

Parting Words

Longtime Council President Gregory McGuckin gave his resignation, having been in November.

McGuckin served as the first council president in Toms River Township, since the township switched to a council form of government and was previously Dover Township.

He left to a standing ovation from his fellow council members and the mayor, as well as the audience.

Looking back over his eight years of service, McGuckin pointed to milestones such as the purchase of land for parks, while maintaining “the lowest tax rate for the town of its size.”

He was praised by his fellow council members, such as Wittmann, who called his service “excellent.”

McGuckin said a regret was that, while cleaning out his desk, he noticed he did not have pictures of the council from several years past. He wanted to forge a new tradition for the coming years, and urged them to all gather for an annual picture. He presented each of the council members, mayor, clerk and township administrator with a picture of the 2011 council, taken last week.

“This is a bittersweet moment,” said Councilwoman Maria Maruca. “Greg has always brought wisdom and solidarity to the council. He has often been that voice of reason, and of knowledge.”

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