Mayor Brian Arrigo’s State of City Speech

February 26, 2016
By

“Council President Giannino, Vice President Morabito, Honored Councillors,Speaker DeLeo, Representative Vincent, Representative Livingstone andFellow Residents of Revere:

It is my honor to address you tonight as the newly elected Mayor of this great City. Every one of the 48 days I have been in office has brought new challenges, but each day has also given me a chance to reflect on how fortunate I am to be serving the city WE all love. Together, as a community, we have the opportunity to seize upon this important moment in Revere’s history and re-energize this city. It is a privilege to be in this office as we strive to achieve the potential we all know Revere has. The last 7 weeks have been fast-paced, as my administration begins to assess and tackle the significant challenges that face our city. I stand before you, the residents of this great city, to outline my agenda for the coming months.

First and foremost, it is paramount that we all come together as a City. It was a difficult, and at times contentious election. We are also not far removed from the discord of the casino issue. We need to put these issues behind us and unite as one community. I have focused, since January 5th, on implementing policies that move us towards that goal. I instituted an open-door policy, promising a transparent and accessible city government for all of Revere’s residents. The Mayor’s office is open every Thursday evening, giving residents a chance, after hours, to meet with me and my staff regarding any issue or concern. NOW, many of the people who have come to my office hours have gone out of their way to mention that they didn’t even cast their vote for me. I actually appreciate that residents feel comfortable enough to say that to me. But, as I have stated repeatedly, my goal is to represent everyone to the best of my abilities. We are one community and I encourage all residents to reach out to me with ideas, suggestions, or critiques. Government is at its best when it is responsive to the needs of residents, and that is exactly what my administration aims to be each and every day.

The residents of this City demand a lot out of us as elected officials, and rightfully so. They’ve entrusted us with the responsibility of leading through numerous challenges, and delivering on the promise of a brighter future. I take this responsibility very seriously, and have several priorities that MY ADMINISTRATION plans on addressing so we can do better by our community.

Good government starts with fostering a safe and professional work environment. It also starts with making sure the City can attract the best and brightest.

We will CONTINUE TO create a professional environment at City Hall that not only retains gifted employees, but also attracts talented professionals. For far too long, holding a political sign or putting a bumper sticker on one’s car, mattered more than qualifications. That is no more. We must hire the best and brightest, outside of undue political influence.

The days when “He’s a good guy” was considered a legitimate reason to hire an employee, forgive poor performance, award city contracts, or overlook egregious violations are over. Revere’s residents deserve more than lip service on ending these decadeslong practices. That is why I am committed to establishing a professional human resources department.

This is crucial to ensure that basic workplace policies and performance standards are in place, and consistently applied across the board. As the city stands today, there are no written standards or protocols, very few job descriptions and a lack of understanding of what the core mission of city government is. I cannot say this enough: We are here to serve our residents efficiently and in a professional manner.

These fundamentals will instill confidence in our residents, making sure that everyone receives the best service, regardless of their family name, gender or ethnicity. My pledge to residents tonight is that, with the Council’s cooperation, we will realize this important goal.

Together, bringing the city’s budget under control and making sure it mirrors taxpayer priorities is a necessity. Our initial projections show that we have inherited a mid-year budget shortfall of approximately $2 million dollars. On top of this deficit, our school department will face serious budget challenges for the next fiscal years. State Aid is not growing as fast as our costs.

While we have to roll up our sleeves and tackle these budget challenges, we need to do everything we can to make sure that we deliver top notch city services for the lowest cost. Any public official knows how difficult it is to meet high standards on a constrained budget. But, that is our responsibility as public servants. We were elected to deliver the most efficient city services possible, and that’s what we will strive to do.

I will continue to evaluate every city department and identify opportunities for savings and efficiencies.

I will also establish policies aimed at eliminating waste and inefficiencies such as unjustified overtime, improper hiring, select raises for a chosen few, inconsistent procurement practices, and unstructured IT and Telecom services.

We will implement best practices – ensuring that infrastructure and capital cost overruns are the exception, not the rule. Our fellow residents have seen their taxes and water bills go up exponentially in recent years without a corresponding improvement in city services.

We have to be mindful of public funds, constantly reminding ourselves that this public money is to be used for the good of the entire community and not to exclusively satisfy one interest group or another.

Another challenge we face is the opioid epidemic that continues to ravage the Commonwealth. We’ve been plagued by a resurgence of overdose deaths. In 2015, Revere was #2 in the state in per capita overdose deaths. This is unacceptable. We have dedicated and talented public servants who are working tirelesslyto fight this epidemic.

From our brave public safety men and women who administer lifesaving Narcan and remove drug dealers from our streets, to groups like Revere CARES leveraging city and MGH resources on preventative measures, to the work done in our schools to educate our children, and so many more unsung heroes like the people at North Suffolk Mental Health Association who work on the frontlines with addicts – there is so much good work being done in Revere in battling the opioid crisis.

Unfortunately, this work has been too siloed. There has not been adequate leadership to make sure that all of these

efforts are part of an effective comprehensive strategy to fight drug addiction in the City. I am committed to making sure this happens.

We will reactivate the city’s opioid task force and bring together various stakeholders in the coming weeks, and redouble our efforts to make sure we fight this scourge.

In addition to addressing immediate, short-term challenges, we must also play the long game, and think comprehensively about what Revere should look like in the future.

With the dreams of free flowing casino cash gone up in flames, we need to act swiftly and judiciously. We must put the right building blocks in place to make sure that our city thrives organically. We must seize upon this opportunity and bring in meaningful, thoughtful and right-sized commercial development to our city; Development that will create job opportunities for our residents, while also mitigating the tax burden shouldered by our homeowners.

In recent years, we have seen a patchwork of projects, but we’re long overdue for a comprehensive city plan. A real, public visioning and planning process requires hundreds of hours of community input and staff analysis to lay out a roadmap for the future. We must collectively shape our destiny. That requires looking holistically at everything – Jobs; infrastructure; Open Space; Zoning.

We are fortunate to have three MBTA stations on the most reliable subway line. We have America’s first public beach – a beautiful asset that we should fully leverage to our advantage. We have incredible diversity that should be celebrated and cherished. We have one of the best urban public schools SYSTEMS in the state. And we have a fantastic community, with tight-knit neighborhoods, and families that have chosen to lay roots down here for generations.

Our job now is to make sure these families stay. We need to emphasize the many good things that make Revere a great place. My goal has always been to foster the belief that this is a place where families should be; where people want to raise their children. I want people to feel like there’s something here for them – to not feel like they need to move out in order to get what they want for themselves and their families.

Together, we can achieve this goal and reinvent the image of Revere, while staying true to all the good things that make Revere special. This process starts with transforming and professionalizing our city government. The challenge is on all of us to make it happen.

Thank you for the opportunity to speak tonight.”

  • George J Rotondo Jr.

    We are very lucky as a city to only have a 2 million dollar snow deficit. Somerville and other cities have deficits of over 5 million dollars. Considering we are a costal city we are very lucky. Likewise contray to popular belief cities and towns are mandated by law to have a balanced budget. You can only run a deficit in your snow account.
    That said I look forward to working with the Arrigo administration and having an audit to improve government. It is the first time in over 30 year we have a professional Manager as Mayor.
    Sincerely
    George Rotondo

  • Zeno

    Anything on the primary residence discount on our property taxes????

    You ran on that platform Arrigo, nothing was mentioned about it here!

    Hopefully you will do something otherwise 4 years and out like your predecessor!

    Revere resident

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