Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Balzotti Stresses Cooperation For Future Success

Lisa E. Crowley
BROCKTON—During the first “State of the City” address given by a female Brockton mayor, Linda M. Balzotti highlighted several economic successes during her first year in office, noted low points like the water bill dispute debacle, but stressed commitment, enthusiasm and a positive attitude for the city's future success.
“The challenges are many, the hurdles are high, but we have the right people in the right places and most importantly, we have the right attitude,” Balzotti said as she closed her historic speech Monday night, Feb. 14.
“We are building on our successes, all while working together better than we ever have, and that is something we can all be proud of,” she said. (Balzotti pictured above with School Committee member Richard Bath)
Balzotti noted several economic successes, including Bernardi Auto Group building $20 million showrooms on vacant land on Manley Street, and Northeast Electrical relocating more than 200 employees from Canton to Oak Street—adding tax dollars on properties that had been dormant.

(Click here for a complete transcript of Mayor Balzotti's speech)

While the budget outlook is not rosy for 2011-2012, Balzotti said there is a “glimmer of light,” from a sluggishly improving economy and it is difficult to tell what impacts that will have on next year’s budget.
Balzotti noted this year’s budget was difficult, but through cooperation and communication officials were able to reduce a $10 million deficit in the school department to $7 million which resulted in the loss of 160 positions, but averted further job losses and the possibility of closing a school.
She noted the schools have been a success and continue to outperform other urban schools—successes that have been highlighted by national media including The New York Times and CBS News.
A low point during her tenure, Balzotti said, has been the dispute over water bills and the outdated meters, problematic readings and estimations that have caused controversy since last summer.
“Sometimes the wheels of government grind slowly,” Balzotti said.
She said the city has hired an outside auditor to make recommendations about the issue and that she would handle the matter in a fair and forthright way, and to carry out the letter of the law—something that might not make her popular and quoted former United Kingdom Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher.

Balzotti's speech lasted about 25 minutes and was received warmly by a packed crowd in City Council chambers who clapped 10 times during the presentation before giving Balzotti a standing ovation at the conclusion.

Audience members included family and friends, and officials from the school department, police, fire, library, arts community and Council on Aging.

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