• Took New London from 3.7 million dollar operating deficit to back-to-back balanced budgets. In order to do this, Mayor Finizio cut spending, reduced the municipal workforce by 25%, and persuaded City Councilors to start budgeting accurately, even if doing so led to a tax increase. These steps weren’t easy, and they took political courage, but because of Mayor Finizio’s leadership, New London remained solvent.
• Increased our fund balance, or financial reserves. As recently as 2007, New London’s fund balance was a healthy nine million dollars. By 2012, shortly after Mayor Finizio was sworn in, it had plummeted to 1.2 million dollars. With such a slim financial cushion, and with revenues coming in unevenly throughout the year, in 2014 New London had to ask for an advance on its Education Cost Sharing funding in order to meet payroll. Mayor Finizio solved this problem with a three-pronged plan to replenish our financial reserves. His plan was approved by our bond counsel, our financial advisor, and even Connecticut’s Secretary of the Office of Planning and Management. Though our fund balance is still lower than it should be, it has climbed back up to well over three million dollars.
• Preserved our bond rating. Mayor Finizio’s financial management allowed New London to preserve its bond rating, or credit rating. Rating agencies particularly praised his constrained spending and fund balance replacement plan as rating drivers. If our credit rating had slipped, New London taxpayers would pay more in interest when they borrow for school construction, road repairs and other capital projects.
• Is still fighting for fiscal responsibility. Vetoed this year’s budget after City Council knowingly underfunded mandated costs like employee’s health insurance by hundreds of thousands of dollars.
• Testified repeatedly in Hartford for increased State funding and lower motor vehicle taxes. This year, the General Assembly passed legislation which will substantially increase the amount of funding we get as payment in lieu of taxes (PILOT) for New London’s colleges and hospital, and substantially lower motor vehicle taxes, capping them at 32 mills next year and 29.36 mills thereafter.
• Hired a Grants Coordinator. This position will lower the cost of government by bringing in funding for infrastructure, equipment and other capital needs.
• Proposed, signed and led successful referendum campaign for bonding ordinance to convert New London Public Schools to the first regional all-magnet school district in the state. The Day called it “arguably the greatest policy victory of his administration.”
• In 2011 appointed Dr. Manuel J. Rivera, former National Superintendent of Schools of the Year, as senior education policy advisor to the Mayor. Dr. Rivera has since been appointed by the Board of Education as Superintendent of New London Public Schools.
• Substantially improved funding for the Public Library of New London. Mayor Finizio stood with supporters of the Public Library of New London and lobbied hard for increased funding. As a result of his leadership, the library’s funding increased by $125,000, enough to hire a children’s librarian and increase children’s access to books. This exposure to books at an early age will pay lifelong dividends for New London’s youth.
• Refused to sign education budgets until they no longer flat-funded schools. New London flat-funded our schools for five consecutive years, an embarrassing record in the State of Connecticut, resulting in the loss of 20% of school staff.
• Ensured New London would be the home of the future National Coast Guard Museum. Mayor Finizio traveled to Washington D.C. to secure the federal site selection. He also secured a $20 million commitment from the State for related construction and letters of support from the owners of both the train station and the ferry terminals.
• Proposed, passed and executed land transfer of city land for the construction of the museum in the downtown commercial business district and connected to a new ferry terminal. The museum’s attendance is expected to be between 500,000 and 1,000,000 per year, and the new ferry terminal will have over one million travelers per year. Both facilities will be connected to each other and connected to Union Station. New London will become one of the largest intermodal transit centers in Connecticut.
• Beautified downtown by securing grant funding for downtown murals and streetscape improvements.
• Ensured that 196 million dollars’ worth of school construction projects in New London will provide good-paying jobs to local workers.
• Understands that good schools lead to economic development. Mayor Finizio has fought so hard to improve our schools not only because we owe New London’s children a good education, but also because an excellent school system will make New London attractive to investors and home buyers.
• Collaborated with local and State officials on the Thames River Heritage Park. By connecting a series of existing historic attractions along both sides of the Thames River via water taxi and marketing into a single larger attraction, the Thames River Heritage Park has the potential to become a major regional tourist draw.
Civil Rights and Economic Justice
• Increased diversity in hiring including New London’s first Latino City Clerk; our first African American Fire Chief (and our second African American Department Head), and our first African American police captain. Mayor Finizio also hired a Latina records clerk and an African American woman as Personnel Director. Having a bilingual City Clerk has allowed us to better serve the approximately 30% of New London’s population which is Hispanic.
• Increased wages for low income workers by proposing that New London become the first city in Connecticut to raise the minimum wage for municipal employees and contractors to $10.10 per hour.
• Fought to eliminate biting patrol dogs in the NLPD’s K-9 unit. From 2009-2011, 16 out of a total of 18 people bitten by NLPD’s dogs were minorities. Mayor Finizio vetoed an expansion of the K-9 program, saying the dogs were disproportionately deployed against minorities, weren’t the best use of financial resources, and led to increased liability costs.
• Pilot-tested police body cameras and is working to permanently implement body cameras in the New London Police Department. Body cameras absolve police officers from unfounded allegations while protecting the public’s civil rights.
• Declared New London a sanctuary city on his first day in office (Executive Order #4.) Undocumented immigrants can call the police without fear of being questioned about their immigration status.
• Testified in support of a bill to allow undocumented immigrants to obtain driver’s licenses. This makes our roads safer for everyone.
• In 2012 Mayor Finizio was the first openly gay Grand Marshal of a Saint Patrick’s Day parade in the United States. This was particularly significant because the Supreme Court ruled, in Hurley v. The Irish-American Gay Lesbian Irish& Bisexual Group of Boston, that LGBTQ groups could be prohibited from marching in parades.
• As Chair of New London’s Pension Committee, pushed New London to become the first city in Connecticut to fully divest its pension fund from fossil fuels. This didn’t cost taxpayers a dime.
• Participated in and publicized National Bike to Work Day, and submitted testimony in Hartford advocating for increased funding for bicycle-friendly infrastructure.
• Fought hard to save and improve Riverside Park. Mayor Finizio successfully proposed funding for major improvements to Riverside Park. These improvements will better connect the park to the Winthrop STEM school, increase sight lines to the Thames River, and improve safety by separating pedestrians from vehicular traffic. Mayor Finizio also increased use of Riverside Park by making it the site of the annual Neighbor Day celebration, a holiday he started in response to the murder of Matthew Chew.
Crisis Management and Public Safety
• Hurricane Sandy: the main disaster area was cleared within twenty four hours. During the hurricane’s aftermath, during a conference call with Governor Malloy at the State EOC and President Obama, Mayor Finizio asked for additional assistance to restore power to the Crystal Avenue high rises. As a result of this call, President Obama called the regional director of CL&P. CL&P prioritized work on that grid and power was restored that night.
• Blizzard Charlotte: within twenty four hours after the snowfall ended, New London had a path down every road, and within forty eight hours had downtown cleared and nearly all power restored.
• Water Crisis: facing a catastrophic water failure, Mayor Finizio enacted emergency protocols and prevented major disaster.
• Violent Crime has dropped over 40% since Mayor Finizio took office in part due to increased community policing protocols and new computer-aided proactive patrol strength allocations.
• Enacted an anti-panhandling initiative, making downtown safer and more secure.
• In the wake of the Newtown tragedy, hosted the only gun buy back in Southeastern Connecticut, funded by Greater New London Clergy Association and the New London Bar Association. This event removed over 350 guns from New London’s streets, including several assault rifles.