My opponent Steve Jefferies is on the attack. He is upset with the council proposal allocating $250,000 toward code enforcement and blight control. Why? The current City Council is working hard to help improve our neighborhoods and get blighted properties fixed up and in livable, respectable shape. One program that is responsible for this is a tax freeze program for new owners of multi-family homes that rehabilitate condemned properties. Ken Cockayne and the rest of the council are in favor of landlords living in the buildings alongside their tenants. We did not suddenly get religion on this issue. It has been an ongoing effort. One of many examples of blight control is the 11 unit apartment house on Summer Street that was demolished and is now being rebuilt as a six family apartment. The adjoining duplex, a drug dealer’s haven, was crushed and removed. The City Council waived tax liens to help foster the new growth. Positive changes like this will continue.
We did not however get money allocated for blight control at the level requested, due to budget concerns by the Board of Finance. The budget from two years ago had to deal with an increase in debt payment because of the two new schools that were built, and this year’s budget had to be delayed past the normal city timeline because the State didn’t have their budget finished. We were stuck waiting to find out how much of the matching funds owed to us would actually be paid to us. The State of Connecticut (in case Mr. Jefferies is unaware) is (still) deep in debt and was running a huge deficit. No one in the city could be certain of state payments promised to us being delivered. That is why the money we just received was not allocated in our budget. It was not like an IRS refund we could count on. It was more like an IOU similar to the paper vouchers sent as refunds to the beleaguered citizens of California. A fiscal conservative spends money they have, not money they might, maybe, sometime, possibly get, whenever.
I don’t know what Mr. Jefferies is talking about when he said we flip-flopped on Jennings school? As to waiving building permit fees for the new $11 million dollar Boys & Girls Club being built on West Street? Why is upset about it? They do a tremendous job for the city’s youth with the programs they run. After school activities and providing a place and time for students to do homework should be supported. Keeping kids in our city active, occupied, happy and away from bad influences is worth every penny of the fees we waived.