New Milford mayor highlights growing economy in State of the Town

March 29, 2019 GMT

NEW MILFORD — Mayor Pete Bass focused on bringing new businesses to New Milford in his second annual State of the Town address Thursday.

“Never in my wildest dreams could I have predicted the collection of new businesses that now call or will call New Milford home,” Bass told the 70 people in the audience — a mix of town employees, residents and local business owners.

He said reforming the Economic Development Corporation has helped expand the tax base and the new economic development director will continue to build on this success. He said the grant writing position has found other revenue sources.

“Today, our town is making progress as our economy flourishes,” Bass said.

Bass said the town has accomplished many of the goals set out in last year’s address.

In the past year, committees have looked at the condition of town’s buildings, properties and fields and how they are used. Bass said the facilities use committee has forwarded 16 recommendations that will be reviewed. Creating a permanent municipal buildings committee is in the works. It will oversee large construction or renovation projects and ensure they stay on time and on budget.

“We are developing a plan for facilities utilization that protects our investments in the short term and the long term,” he said.

Residents adopted revisions to the charter in November. Many of these changes focused on aspects of the town’s finances. The charter was last revised in 2006, though it is required to be done every five years.

“The revised charter provides checks and balances, respects the will of the people and improves the structure of government,” Bass said.

Fixing the roads was a priority last year, and Bass said it is the top priority this year. A permanent roads committee was created and residents approved $6 million for roadwork this year. Another big road plan is nearing completion.

“This was great, but it wasn’t everything,” he said, of the roads completed with the first round of borrowed money.

Bass said they will build on these priorities, as well as address blighted properties, clean up the code of ordinances by removing obsolete ones and continue working with the Board of Education.

He said the town is wrapping up the 2020 Plan of Conservation and Development and the library project will move forward after voters approved it in the November referendum.

The town will work invest more in health care needs and public safety, including upgrading ambulance equipment and more patrol officers.

Bass said the town employees and volunteers rose to challenges — from the weather with last year’s tough winter and the macroburst in May, as well as from the state with funding cuts. He said they will continue to do so next year using innovation and optimism.

“I’ve never felt more strongly that New Milford’s greatest days lie ahead of us,” he said. “We’re a strong community with a powerful volunteer force tat is guided by a common faith in New Milford.”

The full speech is available on the town’s YouTube channel.

kkoerting@newstimes.com; 203-731-3345