Ken Short and Bill Roehrich will lead Washington Township’s Committee for a third straight year in 2014 after their fellow committeemen selected them as mayor and vice mayor, respectively, at the governing body’s reorganization meeting Saturday.
All five members – Short, Roehrich, Tracy Tobin, James LiaBraaten, and Donald Babb – all voted in favor of both men to retain their positions on the committee. This is Short’s ninth year as mayor, and fifth consecutive.
Both committeemen were re-elected to three-year terms in 2012.
LiaBraaten was sworn into his second three-year term on Saturday as well, joined by the newcomer Babb, who is entering his first year as an elected official. Babb has been a resident of the township for decades and is a former department of public works employee.
Along with the reorganizing of the committee, each of the five members were assigned roles as liaisons to various groups and committees in town, per their duties on the township committee.
Roehrich will serve as the police department’s commissioner, with LiaBraaten as the assistant. LiaBraaten will serve as fire department commissioner, with Babb as the assistant. Babb is also a former member of the Fairmount Fire Company.
Babb and Tobin will serve as liaisons to the Long Valley First Aid Squad, and Babb will also be the liaison to the Washington Township and West Morris Regional school districts.
Mayor Hopes Momentum Continues
After being selected by his colleagues as mayor, Short spoke to a full house of audience members, including town employees, volunteers, and their families.
Short thanked former committeeman David Kennedy for his service as a committeeman over the past three years. Kennedy did not seek re-election, paving the way for Babb to fill the vacant seat. Short spoke highly of Babb, saying he brought a lot of history and experience to the group and would be an asset to the town.
The mayor pointed out that just 15-percent of the Washington Township resident’s tax bill went to municipal operations, and that overall spending by the town has gone down more than $900,000 in the past half decade. Washington Township is also involved in 18 different types of shared services with surrounding communities, generating half a million dollars in revenue annually.
Short’s quick-hit list of goals for 2014 was expansive, but building on projects that have already begun in town.
“I’d like to work toward delivering a flat, or close to flat, budget in 2014,” he said. “I’d like to continue the road paving projects we’ve been working on including the oil and chip program. We should have restrooms at Palmer Park. That park has been there for a decade and still has port-a-johns. We need to fix that.”
Short said the township would also be looking for grants to help build sidewalks in the downtown area of Long Valley, and the relocation of the Long Valley Fire Company to West Mill Road would be further explored.
Tobin’s Last Turn
Just before a brief recess in the meeting, committeeman Tracy Tobin publicly thanked the municipal employees who keep the town running.
“Our town employees don’t get the media recognition or the pats on the backs,” he said, “but they’re here with all kinds of weather and are dedicated to providing a good service to this township.”
Tobin, who has spent more than three decades in two separate stints on the township committee also thanked John Jansen, the township’s attorney.
“John Jansen is the finest example of legal representation I’ve come across,” he said.
Concluding his statements, Tobin announced 2014 would be his final year on the township committee and won’t be seeking re-election for another three-year term.
The Washington Township Committee will hold its first work session meeting of 2014 on Wednesday, Jan. 15 at 7:30 p.m.