Democratic Mayoral candidate Nancy Rossi is charging that Mayor Ed O’Brien is not being truthful with the residents of West Haven when he boasts about the claimed growth in the grand list, which represents the aggregate value of the taxable property in the city. Rossi, who is expected to face O’Brien in a Sept. 12 primary, charged the mayor is misrepresenting the facts, and uses his own numbers to bolster her case.
“Mayor O’Brien sent out a mail piece this week that claimed that he was responsible for an increase of $150,000,000 in the grand list, and that is absolutely not true” said Rossi, who is a Certified Public Accountant. “The grand list, when the mayor took office in December, 2013, was $2,822,778,324. The grand list value of taxable properties this fiscal year 2018 is $2,650,190,218, which is a decrease of $172,588,106. These numbers are printed in Mayor O’Brien’s budgets, but it does not surprise me that the mayor would be creative with the numbers to try to make himself look competent. Using the real numbers would just confirm what a disaster his administrations has been.
She wondered where the differential in the amounts shown in the city’s budget estimates and this new campaign literature originated.
“My question is: where did Mayor O’Brien come up with an increase in the grand list of $150 million? The actual numbers printed in his budgets show the grand list decreased by $172.6 million. This is precisely the lack of fiscal responsibility and transparency I’m talking about with this administration. If Mayor O’Brien is taking into account projects not yet completed, or even started, and hoping they will drive up our grand list, his statement is incredibly misleading and plainly untrue,” Rossi said.
In response, the mayor said new development, fostered by his administration, is the source of the new numbers.
“The O’Brien Administration has created millions of dollars in private investment and developments in West Haven. The amount of economic development currently happening in our city is unprecedented. Every single new development and every business that expands in West Haven is good for our Grand List and for the city as a whole,” he aid..
The mayor then used a campaign talking point he has in the past when discussing his opponent; lack of experience.
“Nancy’s negative comments highlight, yet again, her inexperience and her lack of understanding in how municipal budgets work. Anyone can add the private investments projects initiated under the O’Brien Administration and conclude that $150 million is a conservative estimate in terms of West Haven’s economic growth. Nancy’s misleading and divisive interpretation of West Haven’s positive economic growth smells of political desperation.
The mayor then pointed to several developments in the city’s ongoing economic picture:
* Allingtown is currently going through a complete revitalization with the completion of The Atwood and two similar projects coming soon. These developments give the center of Allingtown much needed aesthetic upgrades and will be worth nearly $20 million each;
* Several smaller businesses have opened across the city in new, taxable developments including O’Reilly Auto Parts, Chipotle, Aspen Dental, and T-Mobile;
* New development is capped off with the high-end outlet mall The Haven still moving forward. The Haven is set to add an estimated $200 million to the Grand List he asserts.
“When we look at businesses that are expanding within West Haven we see another success story. Enthone is currently working on an expansion worth over $12 million, Watson Foods has a major expansion and has added almost 30 jobs, and AAIS Corporation has recently expanded and added nearly 40 jobs. These expansions once again add up to millions and millions of dollars,” the mayor said.
The mayor summed up his statement, saying the city is in need of leadership, not charges and counter-charges.
“ West Haven does not need unending negativity and constant checking of the rear-view mirror, West Haven needs a leader that looks to build a stronger future for all of us,” he said.