July 1 is the beginning of new terms of office (congratulations to everyone who was elected and appointed!) and our new fiscal year (FY ’16). As such I’d like to share my priorities for this new term with you. In addition to continuing the excellent customer service and public safety that our residents receive from Town departments, I will focus on energy conservation; communication and community events; economic development; and strong fiscal management.
When I came into office two years ago, I sought to continue and complete the many worthy projects that my predecessor Ed Sheehy started. Earlier this year we opened new Public Works Garage that is dedicated to Ed. This garage is energy efficient and provides a safe space to store and clean our public works trucks which will extend their useful life. It also provides an appropriate space for this department’s staff who we rely on to keep our roads and our Town clean and safe.
This year we are on schedule to finish the Beecher Road School renovation project. The building will be more energy efficient and safer. Our school’s physical structure will be as impressive as the teaching and learning that goes on inside!
Our commitment to clean energy and energy conservation goes well beyond the Beecher Road School project. We are working to maximize the Town’s reliance on clean energy, be better stewards of the environment and lead by example. Woodbridge will soon have a municipal Microgrid to provide clean and reliable energy to Town buildings during power outages. We are also pursuing a municipal solar array on the capped landfill to provide the Town with clean energy at a reliable price for years to come.
The Town’s Ad Hoc Energy Advisory Task Force is continuing to help residents save on their energy bills through the promotion of residential solar installations and home energy audits.
Another major initiative that I plan to continue is to expand the Town’s communication tools. If you’re not already on our email list I encourage you to sign up (tinyurl.com/WoodbridgeEnews). You will receive weekly emails about Town news and events.
This year we will be reviewing the Town Center Plan. Our recent state grant for refurbishing the Old Firehouse gives us new impetus to make this project a priority as a much needed addition to our Town’s community gathering places. In the meantime it’s important for us to promote and create community events for Woodbridge residents to come together and interact. This summer these include the concerts on the Green on Tuesdays in July; the farmers’ market; the One Book One Town program and the business happy hours.
Sound fiscal management has long been a hallmark of the Town of Woodbridge and I will do everything I can to assure that it remain so. The outstanding fiscal stewardship of our Finance Director Tony Genovese and the Board of Finance has once again resulted in a Aaa bond rating for the Town and a awards from the national Government Finance Officers Association for our budget and audit documents.
To control our mill rate, I will continue my emphasis on economic development. I’ve been visiting new and expanding businesses to strengthen ties between them and Town Hall. With the Economic Development Commission we are hosting business events to create a stronger local business community.
Also in looking at our budget and taxes, we must address the Country Club of Woodbridge. A great deal of confusion was caused by the rhetoric of the recent campaign, and the first order of business will be to present the true financial picture to all interested Town residents so they can make a rational decision about the impact of some development versus no development. It is also important to remember that Town-owned property cannot be sold without approval from Town residents.
Of course, none of these priorities can become a reality without all the hard work and dedication of our Town’s wonderful employees and volunteers. Thank you and I look forward to working with you and for you.