In the past five months as your mayor, I have gotten to know many key stakeholders in our community, including religious, business and not-for-profit agencies. In this short time, Meriden has welcomed several new businesses into our community, as well as expansions of others: Connex Credit Union, Assisted Living Technologies, Casa DiRoma, Edge Fitness Club, T.J. Maxx, Pet Smart and Family Care Visiting Nurses.
My office has reached out to the business community and said, “yes, Meriden is open for business!” I have met with local companies who have talked about leaving Meriden, introducing them to our Economic Development team, with remarkable results. Together with the State of Connecticut, we are working to ensure that Meriden businesses know what programs are available to them in order to grow and expand. We have let them know that we want them here and we want to ensure that they stay!
There is now a renewed hope for the economic viability of Meriden. I hear it everyday. Yet, at the same time, I also continue to hear of the challenges that property owners have with our city. Apparently, not everyone in City Hall has a renewed outlook on things. Every City department and employee is in the job of service to our taxpayers, period.
Major construction projects continue, but with more scrutiny, and with continual support from our state and federal representatives. Work on our city budget is coming to an end. A tax increase now of any size, should be avoided. Nonetheless, going forward, our city government will have to find efficiencies in every task in order to keep taxes low, necessitating closer collaboration between the city and all labor unions. Our focus must be on Meriden taxpayers. This city does not exist solely to employ people; we administer services that our citizens expect.
We have had great response to the official Office of the Mayor TV program, Our Meriden, having already highlighted two city departments, and soon we will highlight some local businesses, such as Thompson Brands.
Up to now, I have appointed or reappointed to boards and commissions more Democrats than Republicans. Yet, I still get criticized for being partisan . . . makes me question whether I should even bother trying to compromise with the Democrat leadership. One thing that they often bring up is the notion that I am removing good people from the various boards.
Firstly, I don’t remove them — rather, their term is expired. Everyone knows these are all appointments with termination dates.
Secondly, I am replacing them with individuals that are just as good, perhaps even better. Even if they are not just as good, the fact is everyone on these boards was, at one time, novices, too.
Presumably, everyone that runs for elected office in the city of Meriden reads the Charter and substantially understands what their duty and authority is. Superior Court Judge Jack W. Fischer’s ruling that the appointments made on December 2, 2013 were done in violation of the Charter and are ordered vacated, makes it clear that not only did most city councilors not understand their authority (or the mayor’s), but they also received bad legal advice. Meriden taxpayers have already spent approaching $90,000 in legal fees.
Enough is enough.
Every day, my office continues to field dozens of messages from constituents, with issues ranging from destroyed mailboxes to allegations of criminal activity. My staff has responded to over 700 emails and hundreds of phone calls from residents, and we have tried to ensure that each and every person was directed to the right city department or staff member for a resolution. It’s all about customer service.
Manuel A. Santos is Mayor of Meriden.