Ansonia Mayor David Cassetti said Monday (Jan. 12) that he loves his job — so this November he’ll be asking voters to keep him in it for another two years.
Lauding steps he’s taken during his first 13 months in office to grow businesses while cutting taxes and blight, Cassetti said he still has plenty of work to do.
“The fresh start we worked so hard for has only begun,” Cassetti said on the steps of City Hall to about a dozen supporters.
“To improve the quality of life for every person in this great city, that’s the job I have,” Cassetti said. “And let me say this: I love my job.”
Cassetti said he ran for the mayor’s office last year because he was “concerned that the city was not reaching its full potential.”
In the year or so since his upset win over longtime incumbent James Della Volpe, Cassetti said he’s been working to see that potential realized.
He recited a laundry list of initiatives and ways he’s been running the city.
- The mayor cited an “aggressive approach” to economic development that “has already spurred remediation activity on long-vacant properties;”
- A “resurgence” in small businesses opening in the city;
- A new anti-blight program “so successful that it was borrowed by another Valley community;”
- Increasing funding to a pension system for school secretaries and custodians that is facing a shortfall in revenue;
- A celebration of the city’s 125th anniversary;
- Revisions to the budget process — approved by voters last November in the form of charter revision questions — “to make elected officials accountable;”
- Installing video cameras City Hall’s Aldermanic Chambers to record meetings;
- A decrease to the city’s mill rate “in a year when everybody said it was impossible.”
The mayor went on to hint that voters may see another tax decrease this year.
Details To Come
After his speech, Cassetti said he hopes to deliver a tax cut of about 1 mill to the city’s voters in next year’s budget.
In Cassetti’s first year in office, the Board of Apportionment and Taxation finalized a budget that saw a 0.79-mill decrease to the tax rate, or about 1.9 percent.
Voters last November approved changes to the budget process that puts the final decision on the city’s spending plan in the hands of Aldermen.
If they approve a 1-mill reduction for the 2015-2016 budget, that would amount to a 2.6 percent decrease.
Cassetti said he’ll have more details — and a “five-year plan” with respect to the city’s finances — that he’ll present next month, when he submits his budget proposal to the Board of Apportionment and Taxation.
“I’ve been putting the budget together with my staff and it looks like we’ll have a mill decrease this year. Tentatively.”
Aside from lowering taxes, Cassetti said he’s still working on a number of promises he delivered while running for mayor last year.
Article continues after document released by Cassetti’s campaign last year.
For example, Cassetti promised last year to work on new programs to deliver tax freezes and abatements to seniors.
“I haven’t gotten there as of yet, but I’m working on it,” Cassetti said.
The mayor said he’ll also work to put the city’s and school board’s checkbooks online, another campaign promise from a year ago that has, thus far, gone unfulfilled.
He trumpeted his efforts to develop business and grow the city’s grand list, saying he’s lobbying federal officials for a grant to pay for building a new road at the Fountain Lake Commerce Park and is in talks with developers about opportunities at the Ansonia Copper & Brass property downtown, where demolition began last year.
GOP Valley CEOs Show Support
Cassetti was joined Monday by fellow Republicans Kurt Miller, the first selectman of Seymour, and Mark Lauretti, Shelton’s longtime mayor.
Miller said Cassetti’s work has been “exceptional,” citing Ansonia’s anti-blight program and a deal the city struck with Ansonia Copper & Brass to forgive a portion of the company’s taxes in return for demolition.
“You guys are working very hard to lay a foundation down that’s going to improve Ansonia not only now but for years to come,” Miller said.
A vibrant Ansonia would help the entire Valley, he said.
“The Valley is ripe for growth,” Miller said. “The Valley is ready to move forward. The only way we’re going to do that, though, is we need to change the way we do business in these towns.”
Lauretti said Cassetti has begun moving Ansonia in the right direction with a number of “small victories,” instead of trying to accomplish too much straight away.
“Sometimes progress can be slow, and tedious, and painful,” Lauretti said. “And when you make progress it comes in small bites.”
But voters see that work and appreciate it, Lauretti told Cassetti.
“Continue in that fashion, because I know people will understand the important of what you’re trying to accomplish, because it will be on their behalf,” Lauretti said.
Article continues after video.
Democratic Chairman Reacts
Edward Adamowski, a First Ward Alderman who chairs the city’s Democratic Town Committee, said Monday that there’s not yet a clear frontrunner to run against Cassetti in November.
“We haven’t finalized anything yet,” he said. “I’d assume we’d start into entering talks about that probably in March, April.”
Adamowski said last August that he anticipates running for the city’s top spot himself.
On Monday he said he was still “pretty confident” he’ll be making a run.
Others rumored to be considering a run for mayor include David Knapp, a former Aldermen, and Tara Kolakowski, a former Alderman who worked for several years as chief of staff to Della Volpe, Cassetti’s predecessor.
Cassetti said he’ll defend his record against whoever runs — including a public debate on the issues.
The mayor has scheduled a campaign kick-off fundraiser Feb. 7 at the home of Republican Town Committee member John Izzo.