Posted on Wed, Jan 7, 2009

Mayor looks back on 2008
By Drew Ciccotelli; Staff Writer

GLOUCESTER TWP. - Mayor Cindy Rau-Hatton has lived in Gloucester Township all her life.She has served as mayor for the past three years, and through it all, she's received support from residents.

"Gloucester Township residents are very compassionate and willing to give back to their community," Rau-Hatton said. "People come together to help each other in this township and I've met a lot of people in town this year that show these qualities."

In 2008, some of the challenges Rau-Hatton faced, she said, included state aid cuts, rising costs across the board, and a council unwilling to work with the mayor.

"Council seems to always being going in a different direction," RauHatton said. "In most cases, I just can't move on many projects that I'd like to see done until council approves them, which they aren't doing."

Projects such as solar panels on GEMS landfill and an update of the township Web site have fallen on deaf ears since being proposed by the mayor this past year, she said.

"I'm hoping that council works with me more this year than they have in the past for the betterment of the community and start moving ahead with projects that need to be done," Rau-Hatton said.

Despite a willingness to work with council over the next year, economic restrictions may deter many of the projects from moving forward. This year, the state cut the township's COMPTRA aid, totaling $581,000 - a cost that the township would need to make up twice.

"Basically, by cutting aid to the towns, they're putting their burden on us," Rau-Hatton said. "Times are tough on all levels of government, and we're on the bottom of the food chain. The reality is we have to deal with these cuts as they are and still maintain services for our residents, but at the same time trying to do more with less is becoming extremely difficult."

Proud moments for Rau-Hatton in 2008 included the coming together of the shopping center on Berlin-Cross Keys Road - a project that began just four days into her term as mayor-and the upcoming grant received to revitalize downtown Blackwood.

As the new administration comes to Washington this month, Rau-Hatton plans to seek out any and all monetary support that is being offered.

"We're preparing to get our share of what we deserve," she said. "Whatever grants are made available to us, we're going to get."

In the year to come, Rau-Hatton plans to continue her support of the Moffa's Farm property and to seek out new properties to preserve as open space for the community.

Though Rau-Hatton was unable to divulge details, she mentioned that she was in discussion over several properties she hoped to save from development.

Despite future uncertainties and economic troubles, Rau-Hatton is proud of the town she has spent her entire life in.

"I still think Gloucester Township is a great place to live, to raise a family," RauHatton said. "We have good schools, good places for seniors and an overall good community. I'm very grateful for what we have here."

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