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Tuesday, January 24, 2012

State of the town: ‘No time to relax,’ says Dickinson

As published in the Record Journal, Saturday January 21, 2012

By Russell Blair
Record-Journal staff
(203) 317-2225

Wallingford Mayor William W. Dickinson Jr. delivers his “state of the town” speech at Ashlar Village Friday.

Photo courtesy of the Record Journal

imageWALLINGFORD — While 2011 was a tough year, Mayor William W. Dickinson Jr. said Friday that the town fared well, but can’t rest on its laurels.

Displaying a photograph of the cruise ship that recently ran aground off the coast of Italy, Dickinson said running the town “requires constant effort” and vigilance.

“There’s no time to relax,” he said during his annual State of the Town address to members of the Quinnipiac Chamber of Commerce. “It can be exhausting. It takes patience and hard work. It’s nothing you can sit back and relax on.”

During the event at Ashlar Village, Dickinson said the town had “a lot to feel good about.”

“Tropical Storm Irene and Snowstorm Alfred taxed the limits of local government, but we came through those in good shape,” he said. “Our structures held up well.”

Also in 2011, the town received a AAA bond rating — higher, Dickinson noted, than the credit rating of the United States. “I never thought I’d see that,” he said.

The town’s fiscal health, Dickinson said, can be attributed to one factor. “People pay their taxes,” he said.

Dickinson also praised the school system, noting that test scores had increased and that reconfiguration of the elementary schools led to “a greater racial balance” across the district. The Electric Division, he said, has kept rates low and outages infrequent.

Dickinson praised the Economic Development Commission for bringing new businesses to town. Among the businesses that have opened or expanded are Paradise Hill Vineyards, CVS, United Concrete, Holo-Krome, Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield and Burns & McDonnell.

James Augur, of Anthem, said that the company has moved 300 employees to its new offices at the Campus at Greenhill on Leigus Road. The remainder of its North Haven staff would move to Wallingford by the fall.

“Wallingford is our new home, and we couldn’t be any happier,” Augur said.

Dickinson said state and federal deficits burden municipalities, often going hand in hand with costly mandates that are partially funded or not funded at all. Some recent regulations being discussed, such as removing more nitrogen from rivers and streams, could cost the town millions and should be postponed.

Robin Wilson, president of the Quinnipiac Chamber, gave her assessment of 2011 and her outlook for the coming year in more blunt terms.

“I think 2012 is going to be a lot better than 2011,” she said. “It couldn’t be much worse.”

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