Chamber members hear ‘State of the City’

By TAYLOR

MURCHISON

-GALLAGHER

STAFF WRITER

The Central Connecticut Chambers of Commerce hosted the annual State of the City and Towns Breakfast last Wednesday.

At the event held at Chippanee Golf Club, Mayor Ellen Zoppo-Sassu highlighted many of the initiatives that have come through her administration since being elected 18-months ago, saying that the city has been striving provide “quality services” without “excessive tax pressure.”

The mayor explained some of her priorities have been economic development efforts, improving government efficiency and transparency, and strategic planning.

Zoppo-Sassu identified the Memorial Boulevard School renovation project (“the biggest investment project that we’ve had for a municipal building since our two schools about six years ago,”) as acCity benchmark. The school, and the development of the Bristol Health Downtown Medical Care Center have acted as catalysts for the development of the downtown area, as three more parcels have been purchased by two separate developers.

She also discussed the recent reorganization of the pension fund completed last year. Now, the three pension accounts – police, fire, and city employees – now fall under an umbrella, although the funds in each separate account will remain separate.

“We saved $3.6 million moving forward [from last year], this year it’s about $4 million,” said Zoppo-Sassu. “Moving forward for the next 15 to 20 years it’s probably $20 to $30 million.”

The mayor also cited better working relationships with the Board of Education, which includes sharing information technology, employee and health benefits, and building facility maintenance services between the BOE and city.

“Government can’t be run like a business because it doesn’t have profits to measure against,” said Zoppo-Sassu, “but, I do believe that the motive is nonprofit – it’s about our people and I think we do a really great job with that.”

Plainville Town Council Vice Chair, Deborah Tompkins, explained the town recently passed a $23 million town budget, and a $38 million BOE budget, for a total of $61,780,822, for a 2.9% increase over the current budget. The town mill rate will be set at 34.62 for fiscal year 2019-20, an increase of 0.78 mills. Taxes in Plainville will increase by 2.3%.

Theodore Shaffer, first selectman of the town of Burlington, explained the town’s population has increased 17% since 2000 and now stands at 9,700. The fastest growing age group is 25 to 44 years old, and the largest age demographic is 45 to 64 years old.

Kathleen (Eagen) Blonski, the town manager of Farmington, explained their grand list “has had a six consecutive year of steady growth” to their grand list, and has achieved a rating of AAA from Moody’s.

Mayor of Plymouth David Merchant said the town had a “very minimal” tax increase this past budget season.

Thomas Dunn, Mayor of Wolcott, said that state revenue has decreased by $3.2 million over the last three years, forcing the town to find innovative ways to offer services to residents. Due to another round of cuts, taxes were raised this year.