Friday, February 11, 2011

Balzotti's State of City Address Another Historic Moment

By Lisa E. Crowley
BROCKTON—When Mayor Linda M. Balzotti gives her “State of the City” address Monday night, it will be another historic moment for Brockton and the city’s first female to be elected mayor.
Balzotti is expected to make the first “State of the City” address by a female mayor in City Council chambers at 8 p.m. Monday.
After she was elected in Nov. 2009 Balzotti gave the first inaugural address by a female.
Monday history will be made again when she gives her speech, however, after more than a year in office, Balzotti said the moment was not in the forefront of her mind.
“Now, I just think of myself as mayor,” she said.
When she makes her speech Monday, Balzotti said the speech will include a forecast of the fiscal year 2012 budget, an outlook that appears grim today, but could improve depending on outside forces.
“In terms of the future of the city, a key aspect of that is the budget,” Balzotti said, adding, “and the budget depends on the overall economy of the country. What happens in the city depends on what happens in the economy.”
Balzotti said there are several developers interested in projects in Brockton, however, because of the lagging economy are hesitant to commit just yet.
Adding to the uncertainty are state budget proposals that could reduce numerous line items, including schools and other services, as well as a tough winter that has already depleted Brockton’s $2 million allotment for snow and ice removal.
Last Monday, Feb. 7, the City Council was asked to transfer $1.5 million from the city’s stabilization fund to cover snow removal. Officials have said about $600,000 of the $1.5 million has already been spent due to the Jan. 27 storm and another Feb. 2.
The transfer would bring the stabilization fund, or reserve fund, down from about $4 million to $2.5 million—a chunk of cash that will not be available to offset any shortfalls in the 2011-2012 budget.
“This wasn’t the year for a bad winter,” Balzotti said in a prior interview.
While the budget outlook is gloomy, Balzotti said part of her speech will attempt to lift the city’s spirits and be a reminder that good things are happening.
“I want to build a little confidence and let people know Brockton is a good city to live in,” Balzotti said. “Brockton has some problems, but so does everyone else,” she said.
As the city’s first female mayor, Balzotti said she will likely resurrect a tradition of having a portrait placed on the walls of City Hall and City Council chambers that depict Brockton’s mayors going back to the 19th Century.
The tradition seemed to end with Carl Pitaro, who left office in the early 1990s. Recent mayors John “Jack” Yunits and James Harrington do not have a portrait on the wall.
There are no portraits of females and Balzotti said while she intends to have her image placed on the wall as an inspiration to women of all ages, she can wait because tradition calls for the portrait to be displayed after the mayor leaves office.
“Hopefully that will be a long way down the road,” Balzotti said.

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