State of the City Mixed
Mayor Timothy T. Stewart gave his eighth State of City Address Wednesday night focusing on some tough times ahead that may mean higher taxes.
“While we continue to make progress on economic development, job creation and quality of life issues in our neighborhoods, the good news is overshadowed by the uncertainty of the state and federal budgets and the large impact they will have on our city budget, particularly education,” said Stewart. “Just as homeowners have reduced their household budgets in response to the stagnant economy, our local government has tightened its belt.”
The mayor said critical funding from the state may be lost.
“Our Municipal Development Department recently received official notice from HUD that a possible federal government shutdown would mean no CDBG, HOME or Emergency Shelter grant funds coming into New Britain,” he said. “The loss of federal stimulus dollars that the State Department of Education used to supplant state funding will leave a $10 million hole in our education budget.”
He added that, the governor proposes to push back some state services to cities, such as the responsibility for technical schools. He said rising costs such as gasoline and health care will force the City to make some hard budget decisions this year.
“Now more than ever, we need to hold the line on discretionary spending, and be prepared to say no to special interest groups who are pressing in from all sides as not for profits and others who receive government funding are long on need and short on dollars,” said Stewart.
He emphasized the need for the new Busway to take place in the City.
“The top three reasons for the Busway are jobs, jobs and jobs,” said Stewart. “One thousand construction jobs, from the Busway project alone will be created; jobs that people need now, not in 10 years or more when a rail line would be built. Add to those jobs construction jobs from Transit Oriented Development and jobs in retail, services and offices in and around that development, and you have something we can cross partisan lines to work together to make it a reality.”
Despite heated discussion and unprecedented snow the police station building is on track and other good news is happening, he said.
“Good news like the reports we received in June and October when credit rating agencies such as Standard & Poor’s confirmed our positive bond rating does not receive headlines in the newspaper,” he said. “But I think it should, since this saved the City over one million dollars on interest costs on the Police Station bonds alone.”
Single stream recycling in the city has also jumped 82 percent.
He also asked for a less confrontational council.
“As I have for the past few years, I will close with a plea for more civility in local government. Over the past year, the bickering, mudslinging, and politicizing of Council agendas have reached a point which gives New Britain negative publicity and a pugilistic reputation we can’t afford to project to the outside world in these dismal economic times,” said Stewart. “We can resolve here and now to put the unpleasant past as well as partisan agendas behind us and move forward toward more issue focused discussions. There are many challenges and opportunities facing New Britain this year, but we need to work together to achieve positive outcomes. The voters who elected us deserve nothing less.”