As we make resolutions for the New Year, all of us at City Hall are continuing the conversations surrounding efficiencies and improving government. Some of these points include how to work across department lines, how to increase services and decrease costs, as well as plan for the future.
In the short-term, my goals for 2019 are to work closely with our new governor and lieutenant governor to leverage Bristol’s fair share of resources as well as preserve state funding which impacts our bottom line.
In addition, we will continue Bristol’s economic development tradition of attracting new businesses, helping existing businesses expand, as well as promoting job creation.
Last year, we used almost $400,000 in grant funds to assist a dozen businesses, as well as create over 300 jobs. Amazon, Main Street Pint & Plate, Curtis Products, Winchester Industrial Controls, Max Pizza IV and Novo Precision are just a few of the businesses we assisted.
In 2018, we reflect on some of our accomplishments including, in cooperation with our local employee unions, the ability to do more with technology and eliminated several full-time positions, saving taxpayers thousands of dollars in salaries, pension and health insurance costs, as well as other post-employment retirement benefits.
We have also successfully integrated services with the Board of Education in the areas of Information Technology, Building & Facility Management, Employee Benefits and Insurance, and a future integration between the Water Department and Sewer division.
In downtown, Bristol Hospital and Rendina continue to build a state-of-the-art medical building, slated for opening this spring. Hope Street will open in conjunction with the medical building, and Parcel 10, next to the new hospital building on the Main Street side, has been sold to a developer with an anticipated Summer 2019 construction date. The city also added Opportunity Zone and Tax Incremental Financing to its economic development toolkit, and assisted three local manufacturers in securing a five-year, 80 percent tax abatement from the State of Connecticut.
From a quality of life standpoint, the City welcomed a new Diversity Council, an active Youth Cabinet, the Arts & Culture Commission and funded the Mum Festival, a spectacular volunteer effort that celebrated community on a beautiful fall weekend.
We are also creating some long-term and strategic planning initiatives in the Parks Department, as well as some open space acquisition if possible. Our fire department visited hundreds of homes to install smoke detectors as part of a federal grant, and if you haven’t taken advantage of it, there is still time to do so.
The police department also unveiled its Community Watch Program, where residents can register their external security/video cameras with the Police Department.
We would also like to thank all of those who visited the new and improved Farmers Market which featured farm fresh products as well as musicians and local entrepreneurs. We look forward to expanding it even more this year.
The Mayor’s Opioid Task Force started in the spring and recently landed a $150,000 grant to aid families. As a community, it is critical to have a healthy community and resources available to those who are interested in recovery.
The year ahead holds many promising opportunities for all of us. I look forward to watching the Memorial Boulevard School start its transformation for a new generation of students and theatergoers to enjoy the majesty of Albert F. Rockwell’s gift to Bristol, for the Route 6 construction project to finish, and for more retail opportunities in some of the vacant storefronts.
On behalf of the City Council, we hope everyone joins us in our resolution to have a positive and productive new year.
Ellen Zoppo-Sassu is the mayor of Bristol.