By Josh LaBella
With the mayoral election only weeks away, the Voice published its editorial last week, which highlighted three areas of importance for the two candidates to solidify their platforms.
Incumbent Mayor and Democrat Nancy Rossi replied to the Voice with her positions on the city’s financial situation, the proposed revisions to the city charter and the quality of life in West Haven.
Rossi responded to the question of West Haven’s financial crisis by pointing out what she has accomplished so far as well as what she plans to do if reelected. She said economic development and tax base growth are top priorities in her administration.
According to Rossi, the financial situation she inherited was brought on by deficits totaling near $18 million during the O’Brien administration. Rossi said the Municipal Accountability Review Board was brought in days after she took office in result of O’Brien issuing deficit bonds in the final week of his term.
The incumbent pointed to balanced budgets and meeting the set tax collection rates as evidence the city’s financial situation is improving under her stewardship.
“My administration has delivered two balanced budgets and we reduced the tax collection rate before our proposed budgets were sent to the MARB or City Council for review and approval,” said Rossi. “The tax collection rates in my first two budgets have been met and exceeded. The city has a positive fund balance (rainy day fund) for the first time in more than 13 years.”
Rossi also said the nearly $30 million growth in the grand list and the Bond Rating Outlook being upgraded from negative to stable indicated financial progress. She also wrote her administration had “worked hard to move stalled economic development projects forward while marketing the city for new investment and commercial growth.”
“We are selling three vacant schools for $875,000 and those historic properties will be repurposed and put on the tax rolls,” said Rossi.
The mayor said her administration has proven to developers that the city is serious about saving money, balancing the budget, implementing cost saving measures and making structural changes and employing cost saving efficiencies.
“My administration understood from the beginning that fixing the financial situation by improving our finances and gaining the confidence of potential investors and developers would drive the success in economic development,” said Rossi. “Economic development will generate the necessary resources to begin addressing our aging infrastructure, investment in public safety and health and of course fund quality of life issues and concerns.”
Vis-à-vis charter revision, Rossi said she fully supported the changes recommended by the Charter Revision Commission. Rossi started the process soon after being elected and said the changes laid out are big and needed.
“The major changes would be making the mayor part-time and the chair(man) of the City Council, the hiring of a qualified city manager and require qualifications on appointed commissioners, the treasurer and the City Clerk,” said Rossi. “I support the proposed changes in the city charter and I am very much looking forward to the proposal going to the public for a vote.”
For the final question, regarding quality of life, Rossi said the city has “so much potential.” She said the city needed to get its “financial house in order” before looking at implementing new quality of life proposals which would require funding.
She wrote of the importance of education, public safety and health of citizens, adding that these aspects of a municipality come into play when an investor or developer is deciding when to move in or start a project. Rossi said improving quality of life will draw people to West Haven.
“Now that the city has a fiscal plan there will be so many more opportunities,” said Rossi, “and the funding necessary, to add and improve upon the quality of life in West Haven.”
In a story last week concerning the renegotiation of the Child Development Center lease, it was stated Mayor Rossi ordered the termination of the lease. She ordered the renegotiation of the lease. The Voice regrets the error.