BRISTOL – Mayor Ellen Zoppo-Sassu established a bipartisan Task Force at Tuesday's City Council meeting to address the $28 million that the city will be receiving through President Joe Biden's American Rescue Plan act.
The task force was endorsed unanimously by the City Council on Tuesday.
Zoppo-Sassu said that the funds represent "an incredible opportunity" for Bristol to work with local nonprofits, businesses and residents to "create an agenda that could transform our city."
"With these funds also comes incredible responsibility to ensure that there is accountability and transparency, especially since it is an election year," she said. "I do not want to be distracted by any attempts by the opposing party to make this political so I have asked a bipartisan group to serve and advise."
Zoppo-Sassu added that the task force is comprised of members of city boards and commission members as well as community stakeholders.
“Of the 15 members, 7 are Republicans and 2 are unaffiliated,” stated Councilor David Preleski, who is a member of the task force. “While we do not believe that political affiliation will be a driving force on this panel, we think it is important for the public to know that we have included a diverse group of high level city and community volunteers who have backgrounds that are well–suited for a discussion of this magnitude.”
The task force will also be charged with keeping the public informed of allowable uses of American Rescue Plan Funds. Very little of this money, Zoppo-Sassu said, can be used for the city's general operating purposes.
“It’s not every day that you are handed $28 million to spend over 3 years,” said Board of Finance member John Smith, another task force member. “The guidance for the Rescue Plan was issued late on Monday, and we will be reviewing it over the course of the next two weeks with the hope of meeting shortly after the City adopts its new budget in late May.”
The following people have been appointed to the task force:
. Cindy Bombard, President & CEO of the Central CT Chambers of Commerce
. Orlando Calfe, who has a MBA in Finance and Real Estate; currently serving as vice chair of the city’s Board of Finance. Calfe works as an Operations and Services Availability Manager with IBM with responsibility to implement business controls, meet financial objectives and delivery of services within contracts
. Eric Clemons, retired ESPN commentator and President of the Bristol Chapter of the NAACP. Clemons is currently hosting programs for Comcast Newsmakers and CPTV.
.Michael Dumas, a member of the Public Works Commission, who holds a MBA in Finance and serves as an Audit Manager at People’s United Bank where he is responsible for oversight of risk based operation financial and compliance related audits
. Mickey Goldwasser, a member of the City’s Economic & Community Development Commission who is the Vice President of Marketing & Chief of Staff at Payrailz a digital payments company.
. Glenn Heiser, a member of the City’s 10-Year Capital Improvement and Strategic Planning Committee who holds a MBA in Finance; Heiser also serves as the Chairman of the Bristol Health Board of Directors
. Malcom Huckaby, a member of the City’s Parks Commission, is the Vice President of Investments at Capital Securities Management, and also serves as a men’s college basketball analyst at ESPN.
. David Maikowski, a member of the City’s Board of Finance and an Investment advisor for 32 years currently serving with Infinex Financial Group.
. Thomas O’Brien, an elected member of the city’s Board of Education who will serve as a liaison from that board to the City, ensuring that the Board of Education’s allocation of $19 million in ARPA funds is coordinated with the City’s $28 million allocation to leverage resources for their highest and best use.
. Donna Osuch, president of United Way of West Central CT who is responsible for developing common outcomes for local agencies receiving funds from United Way and aligning those outcomes to community goals.
. City Councilor David Preleski, who a practicing attorney and retired banker serving on the city’s Economic & Community Development Commission.
. Susan Sadecki, President & CEO of the Main Street Community Foundation, a non-profit public charity, created by private citizens, serving donors in the region to build permanent charitable endowments to support the local communities.
. Howard Schmelder, vice chair of the City’s Economic & Community Development Commission, and a retired banker who worked for Bristol Savings Bank and then Webster Bank.
. John Smith, chair of the Bristol Board of Finance. Prior to his retirement he served as a teacher, the School Business Administrator for the Bristol Public Schools and Senior Vice President at Bristol Hospital followed by consulting assignments.
Zoppo-Sassu said she is “very excited” that all task force members accepted the invitation to serve.
“I’m looking forward to having some very substantive conversations about how to move these monies where we need them,” she said. “ The American Rescue Plan guidelines came out late Monday night. Diane Waldron, the city comptroller, is going through it now. It’s a very large document; there’s a lot of information and at the same time not a lot of information. It will lead to a lot of open-ended discussion. This is not my area of expertise, so I’ve assembled a group of financial business oriented people to take the lead. It was the recommendation of the Department of the Treasury to form a committee and so we’re ahead of the game there. Diane has started the process of entering our information into the Department of Treasury website so that we can gain access to the funds. I’m assuming that this will be done this week. We will also be distributing all information that has been published on the plan to the members of the task force so that they can do their homework before their first meeting later this month.”
Brian M. Johnson can be reached at 860-973-1806 or firstname.lastname@example.org.