BRISTOL - The Bristol City Council voted Monday to extend the budget adoption due date to June 1, hoping to have a clearer picture of the state budget by then.
Glenn Klocko, city comptroller, said that by June the state budget numbers are more likely to be known. He suggested that the city's burden for covering a portion of teacher pensions may be lower than the governor initially proposed. He recommended that the council revisit the budget at that time.
"We may also be losing out less on the education cost sharing grants," he said. "That $7 million grant is our largest grant and we are currently losing out on $4 million. If we know the numbers better we may be able to set a lower mill rate."
Klocko also said the city will be meeting with Standard & Poor May 2, 4 and 5 to pursue a regrading for the city credit rating. The city currently has an AA+ rating.
"Everything looks good and we are positioning ourselves for an upgrade," he said. "Middletown has an AAA rating and in many ways we financially exceed them. They may have a fully fleshed out downtown but we have a lot of good things on the horizon."
Among numerous transfers that occurred during the meeting, the council approved an appropriation of $2 million within the general fund balance to the unassigned fund balance to cover the city match for the Economic Development Administration Grant for the Centre Square Infrastructure project.
Mayor Ken Cockayne also said that he and other city officials met Tuesday with Congressman John Larson regarding the acquisition of funding for the Veteran Strong Center.
"About a year-and-a-half ago the government pulled the plug on Veteran Strong centers and we have been working to keep ours alive," he said. "We are the only community to do so. We filled Congressman Larson in on what we are doing here and he enjoyed what he heard. He will work with us on a bill to help fund a regional center for Bristol and 11 other local communities."
Councilor Calvin Brown also urged his fellow councilors to develop a plan to take on opioid abuse.
"Bristol is in the top five cities in Connecticut for the number of overdoses," he said. "In the past year, that number has doubled. This creates larger public health and economic risks, increased unemployment and teen pregnancy. This is an unprecedented problem that we can't turn a blind eye to."
Councilor David Preleski said that the city is continuing to negotiate on the purchase of a portion of Centre Square by Bristol Hospital, specifically a section of rail line next to the planned development. The city hopes to create a revision to take ownership of this rail, which is not currently owned by Pan Am. The city has also spoken to Pan Am who Preleski said was surprised to learn that they do not own the rail in this location and are interested in acquiring it.
Mayor Ken Cockayne said that the site contract is likely to be signed this week or next week.
Brian M. Johnson can be reached at 860-973-1806 firstname.lastname@example.org.