Friday, January 6th, 2012

The Morris County Freeholders for the second consecutive year have elected William J. Chegwidden and Douglas R. Cabana to serve as the board’s director and deputy director respectively.

The action occurred during the freeholder board’s Jan. 6 Stated Annual Meeting, which also featured the swearing in of Freeholder Margaret Nordstrom of Washington Township for her fifth three-year term.

Chegwidden, who also serves as mayor of Wharton, said the freeholder board in 2011 faced some difficult economic choices, but never shirked its responsibility to Morris County citizens.

“You can not escape the responsibility of tomorrow by evading it today,” Chegwidden said, quoting Abraham Lincoln. “As freeholders, our responsibility is to provide for the health and safety of our citizens and to offer them services that enhance their quality of life. When it became clear last year that the resources to fund those services would be severely limited or would no longer be available, we did not try to escape our responsibility by evading the problem.”

Instead, Chegwidden said spending was re-prioritized, most county employees, including those in 19 of 21 bargaining units, agreed to a zero percent wage increase, and the gross county tax levy was reduced for the third year in a row.

“The freeholders thank all of those county employees who agreed to work without salary increases this past year,” Chegwidden said. “They continued to provide the outstanding service the citizens of this county have come to expect, and we applaud them for it.”

Chegwidden said he is looking forward this year to the start of Phase Two of the Morris Model, the county’s award-winning solar energy project. Phase Two participants are expected to realize energy cost savings of $6.9 million, Chegwidden said.

The freeholders in 2012 will also continue exploring shared services with towns and neighboring counties, Chegwidden said. He noted such an arrangement with the Medical Examiner’s offices in Morris, Sussex and Warren counties has saved Morris approximately $150,000.

The freeholders in 2011 will continue to conduct their regular public meetings on the second and fourth Wednesday of the month at 7:30 p.m. The meeting schedule is posted on the county government Web site, www.MorrisCountyNJ.gov.