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I have always considered myself to be financially responsible when it concerns the expenditure of public funds. I believe in lowering costs, creating efficiencies, and balancing budgets. I believe my actions over the course of two years as mayor of New London have proven this and, during this time, the editorials of The Day and my administration have agreed on most financial matters. Such was not the case, however, concerning the Sept. 5 editorial, "Costly favoritism," urging me to be veto the recently passed, "Ordinance Regulating Bidding on Public Construction Projects."
I would note that my financial decisions as mayor have often brought me into opposition with employee unions in New London. I do not, and would not, support a union position for political reasons, but I will gladly stand with unions when I believe they are advancing the right policies.
Regarding the City Council's passage of the responsible contractor ordinance, I believe building and trades unions are advancing a good policy and I believe the Day has taken a short term, rather than a long term, view of cost savings and economic growth in our city.
Low bidder rules for construction projects, without the protections that this ordinance provides, favor the success of bids that use lower quality and less trained workers. While a bid awarded may, in today's dollars, be less than a union construction bid, the buildings built are not of the same quality.
How often have we seen buildings constructed only to see them have major costly deficiencies arise within a short time frame? This requires buildings to be repaired, or outright replaced, more frequently, at great cost to city taxpayers.
A responsible contractor ordinance, combined with appropriate budgeting for routine maintenance, will lower costs to city taxpayers in the long term by building, and maintaining, better quality buildings.
I believe the Day's opposition to this ordinance is also short sighted from an economic development standpoint. The greatest form of economic empowerment for our city and state is job creation. Without this ordinance, these multi-million dollar projects often go to companies, and workers, outside our city, and often, outside our state.
When local middle-class union laborers are employed, the money expended on local construction goes back into our local economy. Local workers buy homes in New London, go to New London restaurants and shops, and participate in New London's civic and religious community. The apprenticeship program by our local trade unions affords a pathway to the middle class for young New Londoners. Providing infrastructure work to local labor is the best way to address unemployment in our region, and lift up our regional economy.
If the City of New London is to spend tens of millions of dollars in bonding for construction projects in the coming years, I firmly believe the best way to invest that money wisely is to invest in good quality work that will last, done by local laborers who contribute to our local economy. For the reasons I have stated, when the ordinance passed by council reaches my desk, and over the editorial objections of this newspaper, I will sign it.
Daryl Justin Finizio is the mayor of New London.