As we enter into the New Year, I felt it would be good to reflect on the accomplishments of this past year and some of the issues forthcoming in 2013.
As we prepare our annual budget, 2012 was an intricate budget process and we are expecting 2013 to be no better. I am proud of the virtually no-increase budgets on the town side for last three years. This has provided Stonington to have the lowest mill-rate in Southeastern CT. and attractive to new business. But the State is struggling with a 415 million dollar deficit which makes it difficult for municipalities.
Our budget this year will be constructed within a framework that balances internal needs with community expectations and economic conditions. I am working closely with Dr. Van Riley our new Superintendent as we construct our budget simultaneously.
In 2012 we also dealt with some interesting challenges. Hurricane Sandy caused much havoc to the community, a major bonding initiative will provide for new roads and athletic fields and re-organizing two town departments. We were also able to create a number of opportunities and continue completing a number of projects and achievements.
This year we implemented and completed a number of highway projects and initiatives. We paved and fixed several roads including the reconstruction of Greenhaven rd. & Renee Dr. We continued our tree trimming initiative and routine downtown maintenance and upkeep. We also implemented SeeClickFix reporting program for residents. Our $3.5 million dollar road bond will allow us to fix 67 out of the 110 town approved roads over the next four years.
This year also included the implementation and success of a number of initiatives including revitalization on several Mechanic St. properties including the Vacca Building in Downtown through the “Distressed Building Ordinance”. We also hosted our 2nd “Donahue Park Concert Series”, obtained a $500,000 grant to renovate Edith K Richmond Homes, renovated Haley Way Playground, created Stonington Bicycle/Pedestrian Commission, re-established K-12 Bldg Committee, and launched Town of Stonington Prescription Card. In addition a continued economic development effort continued with several new businesses including supporting local start up Airwell H20, launched a Non-profit Economic Study, and created “Starting a Business in Stonington” Guide.
As we enter 2013, we look forward to continuing to focus on our town goals of preserving and enhancing our sense of community, using Town resources efficiently, continuing to plan for, improve and maintain the Town’s infrastructure, provide a stable level of service and programs, assure a safe and healthy community, continue to promote the Town of Stonington to attract economic development, and continue as regional leader in collaborative efforts with other agencies and organizations, and provide and support a highly qualified and motivated Town work force.
Finally, I would like to express my appreciation to my department heads, my staff and all the Town Employees for their help this year. I appreciate and respect their commitment to the Town. I would also like to thank the members of our community and Boards and Commissions. Their voluntary work and commitment are critical to the success of the town. As the quote says, “Individually we are one drop, but together we are an ocean” I wish everyone a Happy New Year.