STAMFORD, Conn. -- In his first State of the City address since he was elected mayor in November, David Martin said Stamford is in a strong position to keep growing.
“It should be no surprise that Stamford has the most vibrant economy in the state and is a leader in the region,” Martin said in his speech at the Board of Representatives meeting Monday at the Government Center. “We are the envy of every other major city in Connecticut."
Martin cited business growth in the city, including a recent announcement that Vineyard Vines will be expanding its offices in Stamford.
He also noted the growth in residential developments, which will bring more people to live in the city.
“Unlike many cities with a decaying urban core, one of the measures of our economic vitality has been the vibrancy of our core of our city. It is the center of Stamford’s population, and within a mile of downtown it is home to nearly 45,000 residents,” Martin said.
More than 55,000 workers come into Stamford’s downtown each day to work at more than 5,000 businesses, he said.
The city also attracts 350,000 yearly visitors to various events held in the downtown, he said.
Stamford is also on a strong financial footing. “We have maintained our AAA bond rating with S&P, and we are the only city in Connecticut to hold that rate,” Martin said.
The city begins the fiscal year with a surplus of approximately $3 million, despite rising costs and what he said was a difficult winter.
Martin also defended the size of the city’s workforce, stating that it is the lowest on a per capita basis of any city in the state. A few “critically needed” positions will be reinstated, Martin said, but the per capita ratio will remain low as the city’s population expands.
The city is moving to control its retirement costs by putting more money toward its underfunded obligations, he said.
“Previous short-term budget and service cuts have not achieved long-term savings. In many cases they have had a counter productive effect of increasing future liabilities,” he said.
The city will work to refinance its long-term debt, improve its active management of day-to-day city activities and control its labor costs, he said.
Martin also reiterated the city's commitment to providing high-quality education. “In the education area, it’s simple: successful communities have successful schools. It is no more complicated than that,” he said. “Our Stamford public schools are doing amazing things.”
The city also benefits from growth in the post-secondary education offerings, Martin said, with a recent expansion by Sacred Heart University and plans to grow the University of Connecticut’s presence in the city.
Automatic vehicle locators will be installed on all highway department vehicles, including snowplows, before winter begins to improve service, he said.
All land use meetings will be videotaped beginning this week, he said, which will eventually extend to the all boards and commissions.
“Stamford is a unique and wonderful place unlike any other place on Earth," Martin said. "And it is our obligation to retain its wonderfulness but also help it evolve for the future yet to come."