The New Britain Common Council met this week at their regularly scheduled meeting and took action on a plethora of agenda items - chief among them, approving a vacancy on the Board of Education, agreeing to a 13% pay increase for select local officials, and moving forward on the next phase of the Hartford Rd. land swap.
Joseph Listro was approved by an unanimous vote to fill the vacancy on the BOE. Listro is the Executive Director of New Britain ROOTS and will replace Diane Leja who resigned in September. Farmer Joey, as he's known, studied environmental sciences at the University of Southern Maine and is the founder of ROOTS, a nonprofit organization that promotes access to healthy, locally grown food throughout New Britain. Roots, under the leadership of Listro, has helped educate thousands of New Britain children through afterschool and summer programs, as well as enrichment programs. Listro is a commissioner on the Youth and Family Service Bureau, a member of the health and wellness committee for the Coalition for New Britain’s Youth, and serves as a member of the CT Farm To School Collaborative.
The Common Council approved salary raises for the Mayor and an additional five positions at Wednesday night's meeting, granting a 13% raise to all positions across the board. The resolution was approved by a party line vote, 8-3, absent were 4 Democratic Aldermen. Democrats argued that the raise was too much during stressed financial times due to the pandemic, while the Republican caucus argued that the raises reflected years of council inaction on the issue. The raises reflect approx. a 1% increase each year, for each position, since the last time salaries were adjusted by the council - well below a traditional cost-of-living adjustment. The change in salaries now puts New Britain on par with salaries of similar positions in surrounding towns.
Finally, the Council voted to approve a $1.6 million land swap deal with the State of Connecticut. The deal would swap a pre-existing commuter lot owned by the state with land that New Britain owns directly behind it. The move will allow the City of New Britain the ability to attract new business and new revenue to a prime location on Hartford Rd. The State of Connecticut will replace it's current commuter lot on the new land they acquired sometime in the coming months.