Business and community leaders from Stonington and North Stonington gathered at Buon Appetito in North Stonington for the State of the Stoningtons Friday morning. While leaders from Stonington and North Stonington praised the economic development happening in their towns they worried about cuts from the state and how those cuts would affect residents.
“Everyone is struggling to just get by,” Stonington First Selectman Ed Haberek said.
Haberek said that one of the biggest issues facing Stonington is the Connecticut state budget deficit, which was up to $415 million last week. The state has already cut $4.7 million in aid to towns, much of it to schools.
But while the news from the state was grim, Haberek said he was very excited about some of the projects the town is working on. Stonington voters approved a roads improvement and athletic fields project earlier this year and revitalization is continuing in Pawcatuck.
Haberek said there are several restaurants interested in coming to Pawcatuck and in Stonington Zachry Nuclear Engineering is hiring more people.
Still Haberek cautioned: “It’s going to be a difficult budget year.”
North Stonington First Selectman Nicholas Mullane was also somber in his remarks.
“These are some of the toughest times I’ve ever seen,” North Stonington Selectman Nicholas Mullane said.
North Stonington, Mullane said is in a good position with very little debt but he said the biggest challenges facing the town is continued economic development and how to make the schools better.
“We have to bond together, and work harder to create jobs and grow jobs,” Mullane said.