Below is a transcript of Mayor Chuck Cahn's remarks on Cherry Hill's Fiscal Year 2016 budget, delivered during the Township Council meeting on Monday, Aug. 17, 2015:
Good evening, everyone. It is my pleasure tonight to present to Council my administration’s proposed budget for Fiscal Year 2016.
I am very proud to say that, for the fourth year in a row, there will be no increase in municipal taxes for the coming year.
Additionally – and just as importantly – this year’s budget includes continued investments in infrastructure, public safety, and recreation.
And it more than doubles last year’s spending on road maintenance, which will allow us to make a significant impact on our local roads that are most in need of repairs.
I want to take a moment to thank everyone - from my senior staff and department heads, down to the employees throughout Town Hall whose hard work has enabled us to continue on this positive path for another year.
When I took office nearly four years ago, I promised to run the local government efficiently and effectively; to streamline Township operations and emphasize fiscal responsibility, while continuing to deliver strong municipal services.
At the same time, I knew that building a strong future for our entire community would require a multi-faceted approach.
One that would improve our commercial landscape, but also preserve and enhance the quality of life in neighborhoods across Cherry Hill.
To be successful, we would need:
• To streamline our internal operations and increase efficiencies within Town Hall.
• To emphasize economic development, encourage new investment in CH, revitalize underutilized sites, and build our total ratable base.
• And to continue to improve municipal services and make smart investments in infrastructure, public safety and recreation – while also controlling municipal debt.
The $67 million budget we have proposed for Fiscal Year 2016 is the result of those ongoing efforts.
We have held the line on taxes for yet another year, while at the same time, funding important programs and services that ensure Cherry Hill remains a great place – for both residents and businesses alike.
• We have allotted more than $8 million for this year’s Road Maintenance Program – almost four times the amount we were spending on our roads when I became Mayor.
• We continue to support public safety and recreation, and have established a strong partnership with the Board of Education that will improve athletic facilities across town – including new multi-use turf fields at Cherry Hill East and West and new tennis courts at Cherry Hill West that will be completed this fall.
• And we continue to control municipal debt – taking advantage of our strong credit rating and near-historically low interest rates to save taxpayers more than $5 million over the last four years.
This is great news for our community and our taxpayers, and is due in large part to smart planning and hard work across all of our municipal departments.
It is also the direct result of our ongoing efforts to promote economic growth and reinvestment.
Since 2012, we have worked to make Cherry Hill more business friendly and to revitalize underutilized, vacant properties in an effort to return them to our tax rolls at a higher and better use.
Our progress can be seen at nearly every corner of our community.
Cherry Hill has emerged as a regional hub for healthcare, and will soon be home to some of the biggest names in medicine: including Penn, Cooper, Virtua, Lourdes and Kennedy.
Our total ratables have increased for the first time in more than a decade – to more than $8.1 billion dollars.
New families are moving into our community at the highest rate in years.
We are revitalizing our community’s gateways.
And we have secured important protections for open space throughout Cherry Hill – including at the Woodcrest Country Club, and beyond.
In short, Cherry Hill is growing. Cherry Hill is flourishing.
Cherry Hill is once again a place where families, seniors and young professionals alike want to live.
Cherry Hill is now a place where businesses of all sizes, across all sectors, want to be.
As Mayor, I’m proud to work alongside the staff in Town Hall to move our community forward in a positive way, every day of the year.
We are running Cherry Hill more efficiently, and have positioned ourselves to invest heavily in our community today, while giving us the flexibility to plan for the future.
I look forward to working together with Council to finalize this budget in the next several weeks, so that we may continue to provide Cherry Hill residents with the best possible programs and services, while maintaining our commitment to fiscal responsibility and efficiency.