Mayor David M. DelVecchio.

Good afternoon, and a happy new year to you all. I thank you for joining us here for our annual reorganization of the Governing Body and boards and commissions of our City. I want to introduce my family; Alex and Matthew DelVecchio – my children; my fiancé Joanne Daley and her children Jillian and Nina.

I have just had the honor of reciting my oath as mayor for the ninth time. The privilege you have afforded me over the past 25 years to serve as the head of government of our City is something I do not take lightly.

Every decision is made by asking a simple question, “Will the City be better off?”

In reaching those answers, I have also had the benefit of an incredibly talented and dedicated team who give many, many hours to making our City better and stronger.

None of the initiatives we undertake as a city would be possible without the input of Council President Stegman, Councilwoman Asaro, Councilman Sanders, and Councilwoman Warner. Their thoughtful insights not only help make good plans better, but they have allowed us to turn ideas into reality. Our City is indeed lucky to have such voices on this body.

I must also thank our City Clerk, Cindy Ege, for all she does to not only ensure that the trains run on time, but that they run. Cindy is, in many ways, the first face many residents see in City government. Regardless of the issue, Cindy handles all aspects of her job with professionalism, discretion, and candor. She has been a trusted aide to my administration of the City government, and I rely greatly on her counsel. And, when I am late to a meeting, she calls the local hospitals looking for me.

Assemblyman Reed Gusciora is with us today, and I thank him for the honor of administering my oath of office. Reed has been a very good friend to our City, and was so long before the legislative boundaries brought Lambertville into the 15th Legislative District. When we need assistance with a state issue, Reed is always there to lend a hand, and I look forward to the continuation of our excellent working relationship for the coming years.

I also wish to recognize Freeholder John Lanza. Even though we may be of different parties, we should all take pride that one of our City’s own serves on our County Freeholder board. So much of what happens in government is blind to partisan affiliations, and John had been a great friend and partner, and I look forward to continuing that relationship.

And, of course, I must thank each and every one of you for all you do on behalf of Lambertville. Whether you sit on a board or commission, or serve simply as an ambassador of our City to friends and strangers alike, you are the threads that hold the fabric of our community tightly together. We all have reason to take great pride in saying, “I’m from Lambertville.”

From a purely financial standpoint, the state of our city could not be stronger. We are achieving record levels of surplus, which not only allows us to keep municipal taxes low — and I am proud to note that we continue to have the lowest municipal taxes of any community in Hunterdon County with its own police force — but to also strategically invest in our future.

That strength has also been recognized by Wall Street, where the bond rating agencies — the same offices that have downgraded New Jersey nine times — have given us back-to-back upgrades, (AA- (Standard & Poor) and A1 (Moody’s) ratings. This means that when we do have to go out into the bond market, as we do for infrastructure improvements, we do so at a lower cost to taxpayers.

Throughout my time as mayor, my goal has not simply been to keep taxes low, but to provide the greatest possible value to each tax dollar. Our strong balance sheet serves as proof that the path we have chosen and followed has been the right one.

As I mentioned, we have the lowest municipal tax rate of any community in Hunterdon County with its own police force. But that doesn’t mean we don’t have one of the most effective and community-minded forces anywhere.

In this past year, under the leadership of Director Bruce Cocuzza, our police department continued to position itself for a strong future.

Earlier this year, the City, upon Director Cocuzza’s recommendation, promoted longtime officer Robert Brown to the position of full Lieutenant, filling a rank that had been vacant for some time. Lieutenant Brown embodies all that our police strive to be: strong, disciplined, courteous, and effective. He is well known, respected and well-liked throughout our community.

And, he also has the distinction of leading the county year-in and year-out in the number of DUI arrests, saving countless lives as well as property. In a City as small as ours, that makes a real difference.

We also had the honor last month of promoting Officer Mike Gramlich to the rank of Sergeant, in recognition of his decade of dedicated service to Lambertville, where I know and trust he will continue to serve as a model officer in our community.

We also welcomed two new officers to our City’s police this year: Patrolmen Brian Pascoe and Jeffery Cooper. I am certain they will continue to uphold the high standards that have been set by their fellow officers, and will become every bit as well regarded as their colleagues.

It is hard to believe that when I first took office; our police department was, for all intents and purposes, in receivership of the County Prosecutor. It has come a long, long way since. We have a truly professional force that takes its job seriously while also getting to know so many residents on a personal level. They are a tremendous group of officers and I thank them for their service and dedication to our community.

As we enter this New Year, the City is in an exciting period. We not only have programs and projects that are coming to completion, but we have many that will be coming online in 2016 which will help build a stronger City for the future.

First, let me highlight a couple of our accomplishments.

Next month, we will begin our long-awaited expansion of our successful food waste recycling program, adding 100 new participants. Since the program’s inception in May 2015, the initial group of 75 households composted more than 12 tons of food waste — waste which otherwise would have been sent to a landfill — an average of 320 pounds per participating household.

In addition, we are also welcoming some of our City’s restaurants into the program, and I would like to quickly recognize DeAnna’s, which was the first to sign up. It was very important that we found a way to include our restaurants in the expansion the program, given not only the amount of waste we can help them compost but that they would be its most visible ambassadors.

The Lambertville Public School will also participate in the Third Can Program.

I’m incredibly proud of what this program has become, and hopeful of what it will become. By giving residents another option for their waste other than a landfill, we not only save money, but we also do something positive for our environment.

Composting has been a tremendous complement to our single-steam recycling, which I strongly believe is the best municipal program in the state. For the second year in a row, the City will have recycled over 1000 tons of paper, glass, and plastics.

These achievements did not happen on their own. Public Works Director Lester Myers and the members of the Lambertville Environmental Commission deserve a tremendous amount of thanks and praise for making these programs work.

It also gives me great pride to announce that our Community Energy Aggregation program, which we created in cooperation with West Amwell Township, will return this March. As you may remember, our previous aggregation program expired this past spring when we were unable to find an energy provider that could provide the savings necessary to continue — but what a difference a few months make.

This autumn, after a competitive process, the City and Township reached an agreement with South Jersey Energy on a program that will save ratepayers and average of $240 over 21 months, starting this March.

Our communities continue to be among only a handful across the state taking advantage of community aggregation, and I am hopeful that as more see the tangible benefits we have been able to provide ratepayers, they will seek to provide the same to their residents.

And, speaking of electric power, I am proud to note that our project to install a back-up generator at the Free Public Library is also complete. Now, should we experience another prolonged, City-wide loss of power, residents will have a dedicated place to go to charge their phones, or to keep warm or cool. It will allow us to reserve City Hall as an emergency operations center, providing for a more orderly system of response. Both sites are handicapped accessible and the generators will power the elevators.

We soon will also see the completion of one of the most eagerly and anxiously awaited projects in the City: the renewal of Cavallo Park. I am proud to report that all the soil contamination issues have been fully remediated. The new playground equipment has been installed, and the final work is being completed on the masonry walls and the installation of the new pavilion.

I would like to thank everyone for their patience throughout this project, which has taken much longer and required more hurdle-jumping than we would have liked. But the light is visible from the end of the tunneland it’s not a train coming, and this gem of a park will soon once again shine brightly for our children and families.

In the upcoming year, we will also take further steps towards the creation of the North Union Street Park at the northern end of the City. I am grateful to the residents who have helped us design a park that will fit seamlessly into their community. Our initial work will include the creation of new rain gardens to alleviate problems with water runoff in the area. Over time, we will have a beautiful companion to Cavallo Park on the north side.

The City also will soon also undertake the reconstruction of Upper York Street. This project will also include significant upgrades to drainage, alleviating one of the major stormwater choke points in the City.

On Quarry Street, the Public Works building will be receiving a much-needed new roof. And, a new fence will be erected along the property, cleaning up the appearance and providing for a more welcoming sightline. Thank you to Council President Stegman for working with the Public Works Director and the City Architect on this project.

Later this month, I am hopeful that we will award a contract for the overhaul of our municipal website. Over the past several months, Council President Stegman, Councilman Sanders, the Public Works Director and the City Clerk have spent many hours reviewing proposals and interviewing potential partners. Their diligence will ensure that whoever we choose will be able to provide residents with a cleaner, more accessible website that will allow us to take some of the paper out of city government.

As I said when we first set out on this project, a city as progressive and forward-looking as our own should have an internet presence to match.

Also on the technology front, this year we will be installing the equipment necessary in this room to allow us to record the proceedings of the Governing Body, and boards and commissions, to enhance our commitment to transparency. In addition, the new cameras will have the added benefit of allowing Council President Stegman to try out some new material.

I am also very proud that our community continues to be recognized as one of the most inclusive not just in our state, but throughout our nation. Recently, the Washington DC-based Human Rights Council released its annual ratings of cities across the country on their friendliness to the LGBT community. I am proud to report that we continue to outscore nearly every city in New Jersey. And we’re still gunning to take over Jersey City as the very best.

While our LGBT community is so greatly interwoven into the fabric of our City, we must make it our aim to keep it that way. Last year, the City established our own Human Rights Council, to make sure we remain inclusive in all we do. I thank Chairman John Woods, Beth Caruso, and Kari Osmond for serving as our community representatives, Council President Stegman and Councilwoman Asaro for representing the Governing Body, and all the heads of our City departments.

In December, the City enacted a non-discrimination ordinance for all its vendors, ensuring that those we hire to work on behalf of our residents share the values of our residents.

Finally — but by no means last — we will continue our work to make visiting Lambertville’s business district a more rewarding experience for businesses, tourists, and residents alike.

For the past several months, Councilman Sanders, the City Clerk, and the leadership of the Greater Lambertville-New Hope Chamber of Commerce have been actively exploring bring pay-by-cellphone technology to our City’s parking meters. Our neighbors in New Hope began pay-by-cell this past summer, and, building upon their experiences, we, too, will look to bring the technology to our side of the river. This will allow visitors to pay by credit card for their parking, and make it easier for them extend their stay in our community by putting more time on their meter without having to run back to their cars to fumble for loose change.

The City also is continuing its exploration of creating a new parking option alongside the railroad tracks behind Lambertville Station. Council President Stegman has been leading the committee effort, working with residents, the Chamber of Commerce, and other stakeholders. It is my hope that we will be able to create a new area for parking that will not only be inviting and will benefit our downtown, but will also greatly decreases the parking pressures on residents who live south of Bridge Street.

As you can see, we have a lot on our plates for the coming year. But, as the successes of 2015 show us, we can have another successful year.

But we cannot achieve success on our own. We will continually rely on you, our residents, for your ideas and energies throughout the year. Our doors are always open.

Again, I wish you and your families all the best for a happy, healthy, and prosperous new year.

Thank you, God bless you, and may God continue to bless our City, our state, and our nation.