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A Time to 'Navigate
Recovery and Renewal'

Bill Dressel
By Bill Dressel
NJLM Executive Director

98th Annual Conference Logo

Pretty much every year I say that attending the League’s Annual Conference in Atlantic City is more critical than ever. And each year, as local government faces more complex challenges, it is true.

However, Superstorm Sandy has had such a broad impact on our state, we will need everyone of you “on board” to navigate a successful recovery. The storm didn’t just wreck buildings and roads—it’s also impacting employment, tourism, tax revenue, homeless rates and more.

This year’s programs will focus how you can make the best decisions on behalf of your citizens at this historic time. We’ll also be sharing practical ways to make your taxpayers dollars go further. And, as always, the conference is an opportunity to meet other local leaders and initiate conversations that may lead to new ideas or money saving arrangements.

If you’re a new municipal official, it’s a great opportunity to learn all you can about the subjects as different as affordable housing and green energy savings. As a veteran, you need to be on hand with other members of your governance team to stay up-to-date and contribute the insightful questions that make our sessions so valuable.

The 98th Annual Conference of the New Jersey State League of Municipalities will be held November 19, 20 and 21 at the Atlantic City Convention Center. The Conference attracts 20,000 visitors and is the largest of its kind in the nation. And our fee for the three days is the lowest in the nation.

So clear your calendar and review the Conference Preview information provided in this issue. Encourage your fellow municipal leader to attend the conference with you. Check out the list of sessions at www.njslom.org. When it becomes available in the fall, study the detailed program and mark the sessions you don’t want to miss. And if you can’t make all of them, divide up the important sessions with others from your municipality.

While attending the conference, follow us on Twitter @NJ_League or #njleague for immediate notices on changes to the schedule of League educational sessions, shuttle bus changes, announcements about sold out League events and important attractions.  New this year, the exhibit floor plan and searchable list of exhibits may be viewed on smart phones. Find it at www.njslom.org/98thconf/exhibiting.html

Time spent sharing and gathering information in the hallways and exhibit hall is also very beneficial. Your peers and state and local experts can show you new ways to cut costs and improve services for your constituents—and you’ll avoid having to reinvent the wheel.

Finally, you’ll want to head home ready to share your experience. If a particular session is of special value, purchase an audio recording to review with your fellow leaders. Also, consider writing a report or press release to share with other Council members and the media. The League provides forms at the conference that make it easy to make local newspapers aware of your involvement. We’ll even send the press release out for you! Here are the benchmarks I use to value my League Conference experience:

I met at least one new person every day.

I learned at least one useful thing I didn't know in a session every day.

I had at least one substantive discussion with a vendor about a new product that I might need. I had fun, every day.

And for the past 39 years, the conference has exceeded my expectations. Hope to see you in November!

 

Originally published in New Jersey Municipalities, Volume 90, Number 6, June 2013

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