By Mayor Dan Rizzo
2016 is here and with it, a new mayoral term. As I wish you a Happy, Healthy and Prosperous New Year, let me take a few moments to sincerely say “Thank You”. It’s been my honor to lead Revere as mayor these past four years. But an awful lot of credit goes to people like you who supported the city in so many ways. You helped to make Revere a better place to live and work.
Looking back, we can take great pride in our accomplishments. Our schools are rated “Top Tier”, the only urban school district to hold such a distinction. In 2014, Revere High School earned top honors from the National Center for Urban School Transformation. We launched a new Revere Community School which helps many adults learn English, earn their GED, or gain skills in technology at extremely low costs. A new JROTC program at RHS now has close to 200 participants. And with the new Staff Sgt. James J. Hill School, and the new Harry Della Russo stadium complex, our physical plant has never been more up to date.
Development and beautification projects have been launched throughout the city. The new Market Basket anchors a revitalized Northgate mall, a flagship Harley Davidson store dramatically improved the old Johnnie’s Foodmaster site, and a complete reconstruction of businesses at the south end of Broadway has made our city more vibrant and attractive. 51 new parking spaces behind City Hall are a welcomed addition to visitors and residents. New little league fields and playgrounds have been established, and existing ones upgraded.
Public safety has always been a top priority. In spite of having to negotiate 8 union contracts that had all expired upon taking over in 2012, one over 3 years past due, we stabilized the Fire Department staffing which was headed for layoffs after a federal grant ended. Our Police Department was at a dangerously low staffing level of 84 officers. 4 years later, we have 103 uniformed police officers and a corresponding drop in crime of 15%.
Yet with all these activities, we note with great pride that Revere is in its best financial shape ever. In 4 years our Rainy Day fund has more than doubled to over $5 million and Free Cash has increased every year at record levels. In 2014 the city won its first ever award from the Government Finance Officers Association for excellence in budgeting – one of only 20 municipalities of 351 in the Commonwealth. And, we won it again in 2015! Our bond rating was upgraded, allowing us save the city money by borrowing at even lower interest rates.
But we’ve certainly had our challenges. Revere’s first ever tornado in July of 2014 and record snows last winter tested our resolve. And we made an all-out, never give up effort to bring a casino to Revere. That project would have created thousands of jobs and generated tens of millions of dollars to help offset taxes, and fund a myriad of capital projects for our city. But these bumps in the road were small in comparison to what we accomplished.
In closing, I want to wish all the best to the new administration. They take over a city with a solid foundation, full of opportunities. And, to all our friends and supporters, Jane and I want to express our sincere gratitude. Revere is a unique, diverse, hard-working, and ambitious city. To be its Mayor and work for our citizens each and every day to improve our city was the highlight of my public service career. Where that career goes from here remains to be seen. But I’ll always be grateful for the opportunities you have given me.