Tonawanda News — North Tonawanda Mayor Rob Ortt recapped his first four years in office and described his vision for the years ahead during his annual State of the City address Wednesday, the first since winning his second term in November.
The mayor highlighted a throng of achievements he said took place under his charge since 2009 — when the Republican first shocked the political establishment capturing North Tonawanda’s top seat in the predominantly Democratic stronghold to become the youngest mayor in its history — citing “numerous new businesses and economic development initiatives,” a tough fiscal policy that caused a 17 percent reduction in the city’s workforce, the creation of 600 jobs and “most importantly optimism about our city’s future.”
The address, delivered at Webster’s Bistro and Bar in front of a crowd of 40 supporters, underscored a plan to begin rehabilitating the city’s infrastructure, with more than $1 million earmarked for sewer and water projects in the 2014 capital budget, and the use of a state-backed initiative called “performance contracting” to cover the costs of upgrades on municipal buildings.
“These are projects that we need to do not only for savings but for the long-term health of our public buildings and infrastructure,” Ortt said, also noting the plan would mean “a zero budgetary impact for taxpayers.”
Ortt often returned to the theme of fiscal conservatism that he said has saved the city $2.3 million through government workforce reductions over the last four years and $1.7 million by consolidating the North Tonawanda police dispatchers in 2012 with Niagara County.
He noted that in the coming years, the city will also begin a push toward additional consolidation measures, including a long-discussed plan to share water services with the City of Lockport and opening up some city services to privatization that Ortt indicated may be more cost-effective.