Newly reelected Glen Rock Councilman Michael O’Hagan will serve as the borough council president for 2014, following a unanimous confirmation by his colleagues at a reorganization meeting Monday night.
He was sworn in to a fourth three-year term along with third term Councilwoman Mary Jane Surrago. Both were reelected in November.
O’Hagan, the council’s public safety chair, fills the seat of 2013 Council President Art Pazan. Surrago previously served as council president in 2012.
Mayor John van Keuren, in brief remarks following the swearing in of the two officials as well as members of various borough boards and committees, framed replenishing the municipal budget surplus as a top priority for the coming year.
Diminished by uncollected taxes and successful tax appeals, he said, rebuilding the surplus will be a first step toward tackling infrastructure projects – anything from routine road repaving to a potential Faber Field turf project.
During budget dicsussions in the coming months officials will try to zero in on areas to strengthen the borough's financial standing. Van Keuren remained hesitant to go into detail, citing pending discussions on the council, but said a long-term solution that leaves assets in tact and fees relatively low is a priority.
O’Hagan had said during the council campaign that shared services, like the arrangement with neighboring Fair Lawn and Hawthorne that provides daytime fire coverage the borough, is an area the council should explore in trimming costs without significantly raising revenues.
Credit rating agency Moody’s last month slightly downgraded the borough’s bond rating, citing “diminished financial flexibility” given the state’s 2 cap on budget increases and “structurally imbalanced financial operations."
The borough's rating went from A1 to Aa3 - still considered above average. Van Keruen noted significant budget constraints that lay outside the borough's control, while still expressing optimism about the financial outlook.
“I think this council…is aware of the challenges and is able to tackle this,” van Keuren said.