After the release this year of a detailed analysis of Middletown’s housing conditions, Mulligan said the next step is to focus on vacant and abandoned properties that bring down property values as well as increasing and diversifying its housing stock.
“This marks the start of important policy discussions and decisions as we move forward,” he said. “I believe everyone can agree that quality housing, with safe neighborhoods, and increasing property values are all worthwhile goals.”
Mulligan said he city made repaving a priority, with over $1 million per year spent on road repair. In 2017, 95 percent of city capital improvement funds are dedicated to streets.
“We have made some progress in addressing some major streets, but much work remains,” he said.
ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT AND JOBS
“We have achieved measureable results illustrated in the investment made in the city and the efforts expended to bring benefits to the city—increased property values and job creation activity —major projects with over $700 million in new investment—and the more than 200 new jobs that were created…many communities would be envious of that level of investment and opportunities. We’ve also experienced growth throughout the city. Today, there are over 1,000 open positions for jobs at our major employers,” Mulligan said.
Mulligan said the other major infrastructure issue to address is our combined storm and waste water sewer system. He said council made the difficult decision to raise sewer rates in advance of a future settlement.
“Setting aside these funds, and addressing current maintenance issues with our sewer infrastructure, will help once we reach a settlement,” he said. “While we have not yet reached a settlement with the EPA, the city continues to work towards a reasonable solution.”
Mulligan said opioid and addiction issues continue to affect the city, as they do much of the region and nation.
“We were front and center of the attention this past summer, when Councilman (Dan) Picard’s question on the escalating cost for Narcan was twisted into a national and international debate on overdose responses. In 2016, the city was also in the spotlight from the national attention that Middletown native J.D. Vance received for his memoir of his family’s struggle and challenges he overcame,” Mulligan said.
Positive from the attention, he said, was that it created an opportunity for dialogues and debates, which helped raise awareness and attention on the issues and focused on city focused on a number of solutions.
“…We made significant progress, though like many things, work remains to be done,” he said.
The city is currently spending over $1 million to address the impact from opioids in direct police and EMS expenses that could certainly be better directed and used, Mulligan said.
Serious crimes are down 3 percent, according to Mulligan, and drug-related and felony drug arrests are up more than 40 percent.
Theft-related crime is down 7 percent, he said, and the city has increased the number of firefighters on duty.
Overdose calls have also declined, he said, but did not give specific numbers.
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