Chris DePhillips, who served as Wyckoff's mayor during his final year on the committee, gave his farewell address before Wyckoff's 2013 reorganization meeting Tuesday.
Calling 2012 "another eventful year," DePhillips said the committee faced "multiple challenges" but focused instead on what the township's governing body was able to accomplish by "working well together in a collaborative manner focused, as always, on achieving consensus.
"At the end of each calendar year, the national, state and local media have a habit of printing their favorite top 10 stories, well I'm going to publish what I believe to be the top 10 achievements of the committee this year."
- The acquisition of the Russell Farms property and the committee's ongoing efforts to organize an advisory committee to "guide it's future."
- The new library opened and the library "committed to return "
- Passing the "leanest budget in Northwest Bergen... limiting the municipal tax increase to less than 1 percent. But for mandated pension and health costs the budget would have been completely flat or perhaps even decreased."
- Achievements by the planning board, including their work with the Wykckoff Parks and Recreation Committee, the ShopRite application, and their work on a draft of a floor area ratio ordinance.
- The township approved a referendum to allow raffles.
- Wyckoff "expanded its large compliment of shared services." The township now shares its CFO with New Milford, and North Haledon shares its electrical subcode official with Wyckoff.
- The adoption of new money-saving contracts regarding the pick up of recycling, garbage and grass
- "The Township Committee restructured, streamlined and re-energized the Municipal Alliance and co-sponsored with the Wyckoff schools and the Partnership for a Drug-Free New Jersey a successful program on anti-drug education for the benefit of our residents, and particularly our younger residents."
- "In the wake of Hurricane Sandy the township improved its already outstanding OEM procedures and started a campaign for residents to stay storm informed," and continued to pressure the Board of Public Utilities for increased regulation on O&R and PSE&G.
- Police safety: The township reduced the speed limit on 9 roads, sponsored two crime summits and partnered with schools to increase police patrols.
The committee, he said, strove to serve the best interest of the community as a whole, rather than focusing on one particular interest group.
He praised the leadership of Township Administrator Bob Shannon, Attorney Rob Landel, Police Chief Benjamin Fox, former Fire Chief Mike Rose, former OEM Chief Lt. Dave Murphy, Department of Public Works Chief Scott Fisher, Wyckoff Ambulance Corps volunteers, Chief Financial Officer Diana McLeod, Clerk Joyce Santimauro, Engineer Mark Degennaro, Building Inspector Tom Gansheimer, Rec Director Andy Wingfield and all the "hardworking employees at town hall."
DePhillips, who was appointed to the township environmental commission on Tuesday, also lauded his working relationships with each of the four committee members, saving the last of his comments from the dais for Committeeman and former Mayor Kevin Rooney, with whom he ran for office in 2009.
"When we ran together we pledged to make the Township Committee more open, transparent, accessible, responsive, proactive and decisive," DePhillips said at the close of his speech Tuesday. "And we were decisive, knowing it was always better to make a decision in the best interest of a majority of residents rather than let a problem linger and make no decision at all. We said we would not sweep problems under the rug and we didn't.
"I truly believe that together we transformed the committee and made a stronger representative democracy for all of our residents."
Have a question or news tip for Wyckoff-Franklin Lakes Patch? Contact editor Joseph M. Gerace at Joseph.Gerace@patch.com, or find us on Facebook and Twitter. For news straight to your inbox every morning, sign up for our daily newsletter.