City Hall not ready for New London's new mayor

New London - When Daryl Justin Finizio takes office Monday, he'll become the first elected mayor of the city in decades. But he may not have his own phone line, computer or even chair.

City workers are scrambling to make room in City Hall for the new mayor and his staff and retrofit the offices.

"One of the things we encountered after the election is that there were no plans in place for the transition,'' Finizio said Tuesday. "No one had planned for the Office of Mayor.''

New phone lines have to be installed, new computers hooked up and enough desks and chairs in place for Finizio and his staff, which includes an executive assistant, a chief of staff and an assistant for the executive office.

The first week in office will be an adjustment period, he said, as the new staff figures out where everything and everyone will go.

"We will get some new furniture and new paint, but we're trying to be as cost-effective as possible and do this in an efficient manner," Finizio said.

The mayor-elect has been working with City Manager Denise Rose to find space for his offices. He's decided to use three rooms on the third floor of the 100-year-old municipal building, where the personnel office is now located. Personnel will move across the street to 13 Masonic St., next to the finance office.

The Public Works Department is sprucing up the offices at Masonic Street and this weekend will begin painting the rooms in City Hall.

"I think what we will present is a very professional face for the city,'' Finizio said of his office.

What is now the city manager's office will become space for the City Council and its staff. Last week, the council approved an ordinance that would allow it to hire its own administrative staffer. No position has been established, and there is no money allocated in the budget for the position.

The city manager's staff had also worked for the council, but under a mayor form of government, the mayor's office will not share staff with the council.

City Hall, with its mosaic tiled floors, marble staircase and 20-foot ceilings, has been in need of repairs for years. Last year, after extensive leaks, the roof was fixed. But water from the roof and a leaking pipe have damaged the ceilings. In Council Chambers on the third floor, the plaster ceiling is falling in. Many offices and the hallways have not been painted in years.

Finizio said he would like to fix up the historic building, which when it opened in 1912 had the mayor's office on the first floor as well as offices for the superintendent of schools and the Board of Education, probate and juvenile courts, old age assistant, building officials, finance, water and sewer and public works.

"We have to prioritize what can and cannot be done,'' Finizio said. "These few offices are where the highest-level people who deal with our city are going to come. These offices are going to be the image we project to the state and leaders in the free market."


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