January 15, 2011

Article | ReminderNews- "Mayor looks ahead to new year"

Article ReminderNews: "Mayor looks ahead to new year"
        Just after attending the inauguration of Gov . Dan Malloy , Vernon Mayor Jason McCoy said he was hoping the new governor’s speech would include more information about what the state plans to do , as far as finding ways to keep its funding to towns . But , the mayor said , Vernon is prepared to do what it has to .

         “ We’ll deal with it , ” McCoy said last Wednesday afternoon , after looking over a long list of fiscal indicators .“ There are a few changes in there , but Vernon won’t likely be as impacted as some of the smaller towns in the area , ” McCoy said .
         Recent and upcoming contract negotiations with unions look like they will help the town’s bottom line , as will the recent consolidation of the schools’ and town building maintenance .
ECS funding , which is always a concern , appears that it will be the same , along with the state funds across the board .
      “ I was expecting to lose $ 1 million , ” McCoy said . “ Last year, they funded this with federal money . In this upcoming year, the federal money is gone . They must be seeing some type of increased revenue that I’m not aware of . ”
      In general , the early town budget outlook is good , as long as the state funding remains what it is projected to be .  “ Last year, ” he said , “ we really didn’t spend any more money , other than our health insurance . The problem is our grand list . We’re going to try to control the spending as much as possible . We want to maintain the services and control the taxes . ”
       McCoy , who has aimed at growing the town’s grand list through commercial development , said that the recent survey done by the commission re-doing the town’s Plan of Conservation and Development , showed support for development in some areas , but against it in others , which he expected .
       “ Fifty-one percent of the people would be fine with any development at exit 67 , ” he said . “ That’s what I was hoping for . [ Exit ] 66 has always been a problem . Nobody has ever wanted to see any development there . But , 67 is a key area for development . I think there is going to be some [ benefits ] for us there . ”
      Another challenge for Vernon will be the unemployment rate of 7 . 7 percent – one of the top 50 in the state . “ Our median income is lower , ” he said . “ I think we’re 150 out of 169 . That tells youabout what the community has the ability to pay . I think we have to create economic opportunities for those who are unemployed . Hopefully the studio in South Windsor will help . If we’re able to bring in any type of distribution , that will give people an opportunity for gainful employment . ”
      McCoy said he is working on funding to “ clean up” certain sites , to make them more attractive to businesses .  As for downtown Rockville , the mayor said bringing in more businesses and jobs is the key , and the revitalization of Roosevelt Mills is a good start .
Rockville General Hospital , although it recently closed its maternity unit , is looking to expand , with the possibility of using more of the space in nearby buildings that are currently unused or underused .
In response to criticism over decorum at council meetings , McCoy said he’s unsure how to improve that , but said it is better than in the past .
      “ I don’t mind being questioned or grilled on substantive things , ” he said . “ The amount of decorum people are complaining about is nothing compared to 10 or 12 yearsago , or even three or four . This is “ friendly” Vernon Town Council , compared to what it used to be . ”

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