WALLINGFORD — Mayor William W. Dickinson Jr. said the town is in “good fiscal condition” in his annual state of the town address Friday, but noted several financial challenges the town will face this coming year.
Dickinson expects the town will receive less revenue for the upcoming fiscal year due to an anticipated drop in the town’s taxable Grand List, while citing uncertainty over how much state aid Wallingford will receive.
“That’s two sources of revenue that we’ll be lucky if they come in at the same level,” Dickinson said in his address. “Which leaves us with, ‘Well where does the new money have to come from?’ It has to come from taxes, and we can’t continually go and raise taxes beyond the ability of the community to afford it.”
Dickinson delivered his annual speech Friday afternoon during a luncheon event with several town officials and business leaders at Masonicare’s Ashlar Village.
Most of Dickinson’s speech focused on initiatives and accomplishments by various town departments in 2017, as well as examples of economic development.
For the third consecutive year, Dickinson said more than 50 new businesses opened in Wallingford, and another 20 expanded in the town last year, including Davenport Associates, Hobson & Motzer, and GKN Aerospace.
“That’s incredible, given the economic climate and all the challenges we’re so familiar with,” Dickinson said about the new businesses and recent expansions.
Dickinson credited Tim Ryan, the town’s economic development specialist, and members of the Economic Development Commission for helping attract and retain businesses. Dickinson complimented Ryan for stepping up after the retirement of Don Roe, the town’s longtime economic development coordinator, to replace some of Roe’s many contributions.
Despite the economic development seen in 2017, Dickinson said “we certainly expect the Grand List to decline,” which would place a greater demand on taxpayers. The town recently settled a tax appeal lawsuit with its top taxpayer, Bristol-Myers-Squibb. Under the settlement, Bristol-Myers will pay significantly less in coming years. The company will leave Connecticut by the end of this year.
Dickinson ended his address Friday by encouraging town leaders to work together to overcome obstacles ahead.
“Things won’t get easier unless we make an effort to work even harder and address what we know are challenges,” Dickinson said. “The town is a wonderful place and it’s because of every one of you.”