Looking forward to 2018, New Britain Mayor Erin Stewart recently told The Herald her top goal is to create a budget for the coming fiscal year.
“I think I always talk about the budget as our No. 1 goal, but especially this year, because of the reduced amount of funding that we’ll be receiving from the state,” Stewart said. “That always makes budgeting a little more difficult.”
In anticipation of reduced state aid, Stewart said, she’s sent emails to department heads asking how 5 percent or 10 percent reductions in funding would affect their departments.
All the budget news isn’t shaping up as negative, though, she said.
“Even though we are planning for those reductions, we are projected to see growth in our grand list,” Stewart said, while adding the city won’t know the full extent of the growth until the end of January. “Even though we’re losing state money, we’re still growing.”
Finances aside, Stewart said she is excited to continue pushing the city’s transit-oriented development plan forward.
“I’ve always said that you can create all the plans in the world, but if you have a plan that sits on a shelf and collects dust, what’s the use of having the plan?” Stewart said. “A plan is only worth something if you are implementing it and you are working toward making the plan a reality.”
On Jan. 9, the city will open bids for a major project, the Beehive Bridge. The two-year project, which will revamp the span that runs over Route 72 on Main Street, is tentatively scheduled to begin construction April 1.
In addition to the Beehive Bridge project, intersection improvements on East Main Street, Myrtle Street and Main Street near New Brite Plaza are planned and funded, and the city was recently approved to receive about $2 million in funding for pedestrian infrastructure improvements to portions of Columbus Boulevard and Chestnut Street.
“There are multiple pieces that are a part of this plan that are all simultaneously moving parts. So it is a lot to handle, but it’s extremely important that we continue to keep pushing that plan forward,” Stewart said.
Another thing to expect this year, which the mayor hopes will be a key marketing tool for the city, is the launch of www.VisitNBCT.com . This website will have information on city events, recreational opportunities, shopping, restaurants and more.
“We’ve been working really hard on putting so much information to this site,” Stewart said. “It will be an extension of our visitors guide and will also be able to offer a variety of interactive features for users and visitors of the city.”
This is another part of the city’s “Experience the New” marketing campaign it launched about a year ago.
“We have the slogan, we have the logo, now we need to continue to build on our brand,” Stewart said. “We need some more dynamic digital media promotion for our city.”
Stewart said she knows that some people don’t see the value in marketing, but the mayor said the benefits it could reap are needed.
“We know there is an absolute necessity,” Stewart said. “If we want to keep growing our community and keep bringing in new businesses, new residents and keep growing our tax base, we have to market.”
Stewart said www.VisitNBCT.com should be live by spring and potentially sooner.
Skyler Frazer can be reached at 860-801-5087 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.