The Burlington County Board of Commissioners celebrated the new year at their 2023 Organization Meeting on Thursday, selecting a new director and pledging to find additional ways to make a difference for the county’s residents and communities.
Held in the Historic Olde Courthouse on High Street for the first time since 2020, the meeting featured the installation of Felicia Hopson as the Board’s director for the new year and Commissioner Tom Pullion as deputy director.
Commissioner Allison Eckel was also sworn-in for a full, three-year term, and Jim Kostoplis was installed as Burlington County Sheriff following his official swearing in on January 1.
During the meeting, Hopson also outlined some of the County’s biggest achievements, along with the Board’s vision and objectives for 2023.
“During my four years serving on this Board, I’ve seen how our County government has made a difference,” Hopson said. “We are a leader in protecting public safety and public health. We helped our veterans obtain more than $15 million in benefits. We supported and promoted our small businesses. We enhanced our county parks and created additional trails. And we did all that and still kept our county affordable with the lowest average county tax in New Jersey.”
“We are a community of compassion, one that welcomes residents of all races, nationalities and backgrounds. We work to protect the vulnerable and lift up the underserved,” Hopson added. “It is our responsibility as elected leaders to make sure that tradition continues and our actions reflect those values. We must remain community-focused and mission-driven.”
State Senator Troy Singleton administered the oaths to Hopson, Eckel and Kostoplis and congratulated the entire Board for their achievements.
“I am so incredibly proud of all that the Burlington County Board of Commissioners has accomplished,” Senator Singleton said. “Collectively, the Commissioners have focused on making our County government work efficiently, keeping our county an affordable place to live, and ensuring that services are accessible to everyone who needs them. I am confident that this progress will continue, and even be enhanced, under the able leadership of Commissioner Director Hopson.”
Hopson was the board’s director in 2020 and 2021 and is the second Black woman to serve in the leadership post. In 2023, she will also be the board liaison to the County Department of Human Services and the Burlington County Bridge Commission and the Department of Economic Development and Regional Planning.
Commissioner Pullion returns to the deputy director post he held throughout 2022. He remains liaison to the Department of Public Works, the Department of Solid Waste and the Burlington County Library System.
Commissioner Dan O’Connell, who served as board director in 2022, will be the board’s liaison for elections, schools and the Burlington County Health Department.
Commissioner Eckel will remain the liaison to the Department of Resource Conversation, Public Safety and the Burlington County Prosecutor’s Office, and Commissioner Balvir Singh will remain liaison to the Department of Corrections, Burlington County Courts and Burlington County Medical Examiner’s Office.
Among the Board’s plans for 2023, Hopson announced the County’s intention to continue its new LIFT UP program that distributes free lunches to food insecure residents while also providing them with information about various social services and programs. The program was launched in 2022 with events in Mount Holly and Pemberton Township, and Hopson said the County plans to hold additional LIFT UP events in communities across the county.
The Commissioners also plan to organize two Burlington County Restaurant Weeks in 2023 in response to the outstanding success of the 2022 promotion, which featured 75 participating restaurants. The first will be scheduled in March and the second will be held in August.
To further aid businesses, the Commissioners will also schedule monthly business tours in various downtown shopping areas throughout the county and encourage residents to shop local all year.
“Supporting our local businesses is very important to our Board. Small businesses are the foundation of our community, and it’s vital that we keep them thriving,” Hopson said.
The director also announced that the County is progressing with plans to create a permanent emergency shelter and expects to announce project details shortly.
“Burlington County stands out because we deliver compassionate services, without overburdening taxpayers,” Hopson said. “We’ve held the line on our county tax levy and remain the most affordable county in the region. It wouldn’t be possible without our incredible county employees. We also want to recognize and thank our many partners in government and the private sector or their services and support. Working together we keep Burlington County great.”