October 21, 2013 11:08AM
By William W. Dickinson Jr.
We live in a wonderful town. In some ways, it is similar to a garden. In order for our community to flourish, we must continue to plan and plant for the future. The planning and planting, to be successful, must occur with full awareness of problems at the state and federal levels.
I like this story. A couple decided to go on a camping trip out west. The woman, Lucy, was nervous about grizzly bears. As night fell, she was unwilling to sleep outdoors without reassurance. Her husband took her to the ranger station and asked if there were any bear problems. The ranger said, “We haven’t see any grizzly bears this season, or black bears, either.” Lucy asked, “What is the difference between the two types of bears?” The ranger explained, “Well, if you climb a tree and the bear climbs up after you, it’s a black bear. If it stands on the ground and just shakes the tree until you fall out, it’s a grizzly.” They spent the night in a motel.
I believe we have bears roaming the Connecticut economy. Unemployment is high at 8.1 percent. Fewer people work in Connecticut now than in 1990, according to the report “Connecticut at Risk.” Given these and other troubling realities, we must spend within our means. We have made serious efforts to control local government spending, and we must continued to do so. Our property tax rate is one of the lowest in this region. Depending on increases in grants and other revenues to support increases in spending is very risky, given the troubled economy.
Our ability to maintain the quality of our services, including education, public safety, public works, health, recreation, and others requires continued efforts to attract businesses and employment to Wallingford. We have enjoyed success, with 13 companies (10,000 square feet or more) recruited or expanded in the last two years, but the challenge remains. The cornerstone of our success is our Electric Division, with low electric rates. With the goal of continuing to keep rates as low as feasible, we will soon be directly purchasing our electric-power needs in the wholesale power market. The town is moving in a new direction to better control our costs and serve our customers. The direct purchase of our energy will require careful planning and scrutiny. Our electric rates will be a key factor in helping our residents and industries, such as 12S, Infra-Metals, Nucor Steel, Ulbrich Stainless Steel, United Concrete, BYK USA, APS Technology, Polylok, Bristol Myers-Squibb, and numerous other businesses meet the challenges of a poor economy.
With stable finances, AAA credit rating, and a firm grasp of our financial limits, we then are able to provide the great services which characterize Wallingford.
Public education is our helping hand to instill knowledge, skills and values in the lives of young citizens. In 2013, our students registered the highest Mastery and Academic Performance Assessment scores since 2006. Focus on curriculum and development of new courses will enable our students to transition into a bright future. The Board of Education’s involvement of the community in a 100-percent high-school graduation quest asks all of us to make education a priority.
Our town relies upon the daily work performed by Public Works, Water/Sewer and Electric divisions, Police Department and Fire Department. All of these services assist in making Wallingford safe and a healthy place to live. Our establishment of the Emergency Medical Transport Division enables better ambulance response to emergencies. A new North Farms Fire Station will be constructed. Appropriation of $450,000 will fund replacement of computer software in the Police Department. Our discussions with the state of Connecticut over the cost of phosphorous removal from waste water seek to keep our water rates reasonable.
Planning and planting the Wallingford garden brings a great community alive. With your support, together we will continue to flourish.
William W. Dickinson Jr. is the incumbent Republican candidate for mayor of Wallingford.