SWORN IN FOR FOURTH TERM; COUNCIL REORGANIZES
Mayor James Kennedy and his City Council running mates of James
Jones, Sal Mione and Nancy Saliga were sworn in to their fourth
terms tonight during the Council’s annual reorganization meeting
at City Hall.
Mione was elected Council President by his Council
Colleagues, replacing outgoing President Jerry Scaturo, who was
elected Vice President.
In his annual State of the City address, Kennedy said
that Rahway is on the forefront of the state’s “smart
growth” movement, which seeks to combat sprawl, traffic woes,
high property taxes and environmental degradation.
in Rahway, smart growth means concentrating new developments
around our $16 million train station” he said.
“Smart growth means transforming old tax-exempt surface
parking lots and developing market-rate housing, cultural
activities and businesses. They will produce tax revenue, bring
new residents into our community and reestablish our downtown as a
place with a high quality of life for residents and visitors.”
Kennedy specifically named the new River
Place development now under construction on the corner of Lewis
and Dock Streets downtown. This
136-unit market rate apartment complex is designed to draw young
professionals to the city who use the train to commute to work.
He also mentioned that he expects construction to begin on
the new, 300-car parking deck at the corner of Main and Lewis
Streets this summer and be completed in mid-2004.
High on the Mayor’s priorities was
finishing construction of the new library behind City Hall.
Thanks to grants from the Federal Emergency Management
Agency, the NJ State Library and the US Economic Development
Agency, the cost of the library construction is not being borne by
Rahway’s property taxpayers and will actually generate tax
revenues after the building’s top two floors are sold to the
private sector. The
library will open this summer.
“Rahway will soon have the only library in the state that will produce
needed ratables for our property taxpayers,” he said. “This was a cutting-edge concept that was carried out in a
fiscally conservative and sound manner and will give our children
the best library in New Jersey.”
Kennedy noted that the City has received numerous awards from public and
private organizations in 2002 and will receive more in 2003 as the
city’s smart growth efforts are recognized across the state. The most notable honor has been the naming of Rahway by the
New Jersey DOT as one of seven “Transit Villages” in the state
“Being named a transit village in 2002 now means that we are planning
our future growth around mass transit and not around
auto-dependent suburbs,” he said.
“Rahway is now at the ‘top of the list’ when competing
with other municipalities for state development and transportation
funds. And I’m
pleased to announce that this spring, Rahway will be named
‘Smart Growth Community of the Year’ by New Jersey Future, the
state's largest smart-growth advocacy group that is fighting
suburban sprawl and for livable communities.
Finally, the Mayor called for increased fiscal restraint to keep
property taxes stable in Rahway.
“By making spending cuts and realizing new revenues during the
mid-90s, we have been able to keep Rahway’s municipal tax
increases stable – an average of 2.4 percent, less than the
inflation rate.” he said. Last
February the Star-Ledger cited Rahway as having one of the most stable tax rates
in Union County, with total property taxes rising by less than
half of the state average over the last ten years.
Kennedy said that the city will be examining all sources of revenue and
may adjust some fees that have not changed in decades.
The city will also take a hard look at its health insurance
costs – which rose by $1 million last year and are projected to
increase by a similar margin this year – to keep them in check
while maintaining its contractual agreements with municipal
employees. The Mayor
added that the city does not plan to eliminate its myriad of
services like the new tennis courts, recreation programs and free
bulky waste and recycling pickup that homeowners in other
municipalities pay hundreds of dollars annually for.
“In speaking with many residents, citizens do not want to sacrifice
public safety or public works improvements to our sidewalks, parks
and trees,” he said. “These
investments are too important to our safety and our quality of
The Mayor closed out his speech with a call for renewed citizen
involvement towards making Rahway a better place to live, shop and
“Contribute something positive to your community,” he said.
“Join our combined efforts as we work to redefine Rahway
as a true ‘livable community.’”
Click here to read Mayor Kennedy's 2003 State of the City Address