STAMFORD, Conn. -- Stamford Mayor David Martin touted the city's strong economy, efficient government and quality of life during his annual State of the City address Thursday at the Hilton Stamford Hotel.
"We are financially strong, both as a city government as well as a community. We are safe. We are a desirable place to live and we are working to make this an extremely efficient government," he told members of Stamford Chamber of Commerce in his annual address.
Stamford continues to enjoy a AAA bond rating — something that sets it apart from similar-size communities, he said — which enables the city to pay less interest when it borrows money.
"That is something that is pretty rare for a community over 100,00 people and it is pretty rare for a city as diverse as ours," Martin said. "We are guarding this AAA rate very jealously."
The city's tax rates should remain low without cutting any services in the next fiscal year's budget, he said.
"When all is said and done, I expect the tax increase this year to be below what it was last year," he said.
Employee benefit obligations, primarily long-term pensions, pose a challenge as they continue to rise, he said. Costs have jumped 14 percent from last year and now comprise 31 percent of the budget, Martin said.
"If this trend continues, we would basically have half of the city budget going to city employee benefits," he said, adding it would be a challenge to keep the tax rate down if the trend continues.
The city is seeking to "turn the arc" of increases to control costs in the coming year, Martin said. He said that under his leadership, Stamford for the first time has fully funded its pension obligations.
Stamford enjoys a low unemployment rate and continues to be an attractive place for companies to locate and people to move to, he said.
The city's population has hit the 128,000 mark and a number of prominent companies call Stamford home, he said. Stamford also continues to enjoy a low crime rate and is one of the safest communities in the country to live in, Martin said.
Click here to sign up for Daily Voice's free daily emails and news alerts.