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New Mayor Eyes Upgrades and Long-Range Plan

Vitale and Landrigan sworn in at annual reorganization meeting.

Madison welcomed a new mayor and two members to the Borough Council at the annual reorganization of the governing body Sunday at .

In the packed second-floor council chambers, Democrat Robert Conley was sworn in as mayor, taking the gavel from Republican Mary-Anna Holden, who had served since 2007.

Conley, the vice-president of operations for the Madison Area YMCA, had resigned from his expiring term as councilman to run for mayor against Holden. Conley’s term expires in 2015.

Re-joining the governing body for a three-year term is realtor Carmela Vitale. The Democrat earlier served two terms on council from 2003-08. In 2009, she also served less than a year after being appointed to fill a vacancy on the governing body.

Republican Robert Landrigan enters his first three-year term on the council. Among other volunteer activities, the corporate executive coordinated the borough’s Office of Emergency Management, and was president of the Volunteer Ambulance Corps.

After his swearing-in by state Sen. Richard Codey, in his inaugural message, Conley thanked Holden, calling her “a tough act to follow.”

Conley noted that he was the borough’s fourth straight mayor to lead the council of a majority opposition party, but assured that recent history indicates that the governing body “thrives under bipartisan cooperation. Solutions to issues will come to us by working together with a long-range vision of the future.”

Conley said the recent focus on projects such as the turf fields and restoration of Hartley Dodge for the immediate future will give way to projects addressing much-needed upgrades to borough infrastructure.

“Roads need reconstruction, there are problems with stormwater management, and there is the ticking timebombs of sewage collection and aging pumping stations,” he said.

The borough will plan on more prudent departmental spending, Conley said, and a five-year master plan devised by Borough Administrator Ray Codey and Chief Financial Officer Robert Kalafut will be front and center, though he warned, “it is not as yet a fully-funded plan.”

The mayor said the borough “cannot afford go-it-alone funding” for projects and that the 2012 budget must include the reestablishment of the transfer of funds to the General Capital Fund.

Conley said meeting the challenge of providing basic services such as sewer service and leaf collection at an affordable cost will depend to a degree on shared services with other towns, said he has already talked to several mayors of neighboring communities about sharing services.

Strategic planning will focus on the library and Health Department, “and we want to grow these into a strategic plan for the entire borough of Madison,” Conley said.

He said reduction of short-term debt is a primary concern. The synthetic turf playing fields scheduled to open this spring will be paid for through user fees, sponsorships and donations, to make good on the original plan that “they will not cost taxpayers a dime.” The borough will continue to apply for Green Acres funding, to reduce the cost of land purchases.

Conley plans improved communications in the form of town meetings, to gather input from residents, assist the council in the decision-making process and gather data for the development of the strategic plan.

“I also want strong committees,” he said “We want to encourage free thinking, listening with an open mind, and understanding that there are no right or wrong answers.”

Conley said as a matter of the governing body putting its best foot forward, he would ask that a code of conduct modeled on other towns be adopted. This would extend to a full review of all professional contracts, some of which will be renewed for a 60-day term instead of the traditional one-year term, to facilitate review.

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