Mayoral Notes by Mayor Charlene Lovett
Editor’s Note: This week’s column did not arrive in time for today’s issue, so we are posting here.
On June 24, the Claremont City Council adopted a budget that represented a decrease of nine cents on the tax rate while simultaneously investing more resources in road and blight improvement. Navigating the proper balance of managing today’s fiscal reality and investing in growth opportunities has always been a challenging endeavor. It is even more difficult during a pandemic. However, success is possible when working collaboratively at all levels of government and across sectors.
Almost every week, Governor Sununu hosts calls with NH mayors and/or their designees to hear the challenges that local municipalities are facing in today’s COVID-19 environment. Where appropriate, this feedback is incorporated into decisions at the state level. These calls are also used by the mayors to help clarify existing orders issued by the Governor. It is an exchange of information that has helped both the state and municipalities achieve better outcomes during the pandemic.
In addition to direct communication with the Governor, mayors and/or their designees have also engaged directly with members of our federal delegation. This type of communication ensures that our senators and representatives know what resources are needed for communities to successfully operate in a COVID-19 environment. Most recently, I met with both Senators Hassan and Shaheen.
On July 13, Senator Hassan hosted a ZOOM meeting with NH mayors. The executive director of the NH Municipal Association and the press also attended. The topic of the meeting was the importance of municipal aid to states and local communities. Each mayor was given an opportunity to speak for about 2-3 minutes. The common theme was that municipalities were doing ok in the current fiscal year, although more would be known by the end of the second quarter (December). The primary concern was the potential of revenue losses in the next fiscal year and how best to address those losses while making need community investments.
Later that same day I met with Senator Shaheen during her on-site visit at Reed Truck Services. Other attendees included representatives from Mascoma Bank and the town of Newport. It was an opportunity to hear how a nearby business successfully utilized federal funding, how a local bank played a critical role in expediting those funds, and how future federal dollars might best be invested in local communities during the pandemic. Hearing from members of the financial, commercial and government sectors offered Senator Shaheen insight into what is needed at the local level, aiding her effort to secure future federal funding.
Here at home, the City Council and Administration are also looking ahead. Currently, the City is engaged in conversation with the public on the Rethink Pleasant Street revitalization project. This will mark the next phase of redevelopment in the City Center and is estimated to cost $4.55M. Due to the retirement of three bonds, the project will not impact the tax rate, will resolve multiple infrastructure issues and potentially spur further economic growth.
To leverage the full potential of such a project, it will be essential that the City continues to hear from all sectors of the community. It will also be equally important that we continue advocating for our community at the state and federal level for funds to offset the impact of the pandemic. This, combined with sound fiscal management and targeted investment, will ensure that Claremont remains resilient.
Charlene Lovett is the Mayor of Claremont and welcomes your feedback. Please email questions, comments or concerns to her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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