The Annapolis County Spectator asked new Bridgetown Mayor Horace Hurlburt a series of questions concerning the role and direction he believes his new council might take as the town moves forward. He talks about council, revenue, open communication, the business community, residents, and volunteers.
Following are The Spectator questions and Mayor Hurlburt’s responses:
1) THE SPECTATOR: The new council consists of a mix of new and experienced councilors, how do you feel this mix will be of advantage?
MAYOR HURLBURT: Bridgetown’s new council and mayor bring a wealth of diverse experience to Town Hall. Individuals with business, as well as municipal and federal experience, in my opinion, help give Bridgetown an advantage, as it continues to face serious challenges. A diverse foundation means this council team will be best placed to bring varied views and opinions to the council table, enabling better decision making to occur.
2) THE SPECTATOR: The previous councils struggled with trying to balance the budget in the face of mounting debts, maintaining vital services and infrastructure, and keeping tax rates competitive. What is this council’s way forward?
MAYOR HURLBURT: The first step on the way forward requires a continuance of spending prudence. Other steps by the council team in conjunction with Town Hall staff would include, looking at town spending and operations to see that tax monies are being spent wisely. Today’s fiscal prudence, combined with tomorrow’s review, will enable council to set realistic short- and long-term priorities. Priorities that will also include looking at the consequences of spending or not for a given topic.
3) THE SPECTATOR: If residential and commercial development is key to expanding the town’s tax base, yet town services such as sewage treatment may be operating near capacity, how can council encourage future development without taking on new debts to upgrade its infrastructure?
MAYOR HURLBURT: Council is very keen to increase both the residential and commercial tax base, for not only today but the future. To better assist long-term planning, issues such as sewer and water infrastructure capacities will continue to be assessed, as the new council looks to obtain a larger overview for decision-making purposes. Items such as in-line flow meters, and a recent trunk update (near Jubilee Park), are two examples of ongoing activities that come to mind when talking about infrastructure capacity.
4) THE SPECTATOR: What role can council take in attracting new businesses and residents to the area?
MAYOR HURLBURT: Communicating and advertising. Council will continue to be more involved with not only town residents, but residents of the surrounding area, plus visitors, looking to encourage entrepreneurs, advertise and market Bridgetown (the Jewel of the Valley), and support new initiatives. Working hand in hand with Bridgetown an Area Chamber of Commerce Society (BACCS), as well as residents, will enable us to not only encourage growth, but better understand what has worked best and what has not over the last two to four years.
5) THE SPECTATOR: The number of young families living in Bridgetown is growing. What role can council take in supporting new families with the types of resources and services they need to build a future here?
MAYOR HURLBURT: The first step in support of not only new families, but new residents, is to extend a warm Maritime welcome. A caring smile and handshake makes people feel wanted, hence creating an opportunity for two-way communications. Bridgetown has many positive attributes to offer -- quality schools, parks, and businesses, and there is more. Activities new residents could be informed about that are not as well advertised might for example include local rug hooking groups, lawn bowling, Family Matters support, or simply being informed about the “Reader” a local news letter that offers significant insight about area happenings on a weekly basis. Opening the door to new residents also requires followup, a task and learning opportunity that is so often forgotten about.
6) THE SPECTATOR: The community has been recognized for its strong spirit of volunteerism. How can volunteers continue to play an active and vital role in the town’s future?
MAYOR HURLBURT: Every day volunteers are making a major contribution to the spirit, quality of life, and success of Bridgetown. Whether it is for events like Ciderfest, or organizations such as the Salvation Army, or Mountain Lea, or through organizations such as the Lion’s Club or the Food Bank, volunteers are making it happen. In a given month hundreds and hundreds of hours are being volunteered. If Town Council had one New Year’s resolution to seek in 2013, it would be to see more Bridgetown residents offering to volunteer. If unsure about the notion of volunteering, then please feel free to contact the Mayor via; firstname.lastname@example.org or Horace Hurlburt on Facebook.
7) THE SPECTATOR: How can residents interact with council? How can their voices be heard?
MAYOR HURLBURT: Residents can interact with council, for example, by attending Town Council meetings on the fourth Tuesday of each month, and expressing their concerns/opinions during the Citizens Forum portion of the monthly agenda. Alternatively they could contact Town Hall by phone, mail or simply drop in during business hours. If the resident, for example, wished to dialogue on a given concern with the Mayor, they could seek again through Town Hall to schedule a meeting or at the very least leave contact details that would enable the Mayor or member of council to respond. Town Council and Town Hall welcome resident feedback. The question not asked is one that is impossible to answer.