State of City: Mayor says Milford is stronger than ever

During the annual State of the City address Friday before the Milford Chamber of Commerce, Mayor Ben Blake said Milford is stronger than ever and perfectly positioned to meet the challenges and opportunities of the future.
He listed the things that he says make Milford great and that prove his assertion that the city is strong.

“We presently have 34,650 registered Milford voters, most of whom will be going to the polls this November to vote for our new President of the United States,” Blake said. “Whoever’s elected, I know we’re all counting on her to make America great again.”

He talked about the city’s $6.4 million grand list, which he said is among the strongest in Connecticut, a strong police force and fire department, a library with more than 130,000 print volumes and growing electronic content, a municipal golf course and more.

“Milford’s population is increasing with over 54,000 residents – we are the fastest growing town in South Central Connecticut,” he said. “We have the longest coastline in Connecticut, 17.5 miles of beautiful beaches. Other than our people, our shoreline is our greatest resource.”

He offered lots of numbers to the gathering of students and business leaders at the annual luncheon, during which the Chamber awarded scholarships to local high school seniors.

Among those numbers, Blake noted the 1,016 city streets, 7,500 catch basins and storm drains and the 25,000 tons of garbage and 5,000 tons of recycling that is collected each year from 17,000 homes.

“Starting this summer, our garbage collection process will be significantly streamlined as new trucks, new automated technology, and a new contract will allow a single operator to complete a neighborhood route which had previously been staffed by three or four city employees,” Blake said.

He said the public schools are “world class,” and he talked about the 2016-17 budget, which will bring with it a tax decrease.

“For only the second time in the past 30 years, Milford taxpayers will see a decrease, albeit a small decrease, in the amount of money we pay locally, as the Board of Aldermen adopted a new city budget that reduces taxes next year,” Blake said. “Milford’s mill rate, already far less than any of the neighboring communities, was reduced from 27.88 mills to 27.84 mills.”

The mayor credited this to streamlining operations, a bond refinancing that saved the city money, and the state’s new municipal revenue sharing funds that will see the city getting about $1.6 million in additional money.

“But most significantly, our financial success is secured by an explosion of business growth in Milford that’s expanded the city’s grand list and allowed us to maintain great services  and cut taxes at the same time,” Blake said, adding that 388 new businesses opened in Milford last year, preceded by 394 new businesses the year before.

“There’s only one word for this type of economic development: Remarkable,” he said.

Blake talked about improvements in the building department, two new synthetic fields coming to the YMCA and other recreational improvements in the city.

“What’s quite clear is that our city is stronger than ever and perfectly positioned to meet the challenges and opportunities of this new millennium,” the mayor said.