New Britain Mayor Orders Hiring and Spending Freeze

By Seth Lemon
|  Wednesday, Nov 20, 2013  |  Updated 7:35 PM EDT
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Erin Stewart has been in office for one week and is already making big changes.

Erin Stewart has been in office for one week and is already making big changes.

Only seven days into the term of the youngest mayor ever elected in New Britain, Mayor Erin Stewart says she's so busy most days she forgets to eat.

"It's been a whirlwind of a last week," said the newest Republican incumbent after her first days in office. "We have some serious issues that we need to address here, and if that means that my office needs to correctly monitor everything that we are spending on, then we're going to have to do that."

The first step in monitoring that spending came in a memo Stewart sent Monday afternoon to all the city's department heads, freezing both hiring and spending for the entire city and requiring drafts for 5 percent and 10 percent budget cuts.

"This is the time to make sure that everything's covered," said New Britain resident Thomas Talalaj, who said he's excited to see the mayor moving and shaking this soon into her term. "We need somebody at the top of the realm to be fiscally responsible."

But Stewart said she understands the importance of spending for necessities, so the freeze won't apply to the hiring of essential public safety personnel like police officers. She does, however, want to tighten the reins on other spending.

"In an effort to stop that fiscal bleeding, I want to see everything that comes through," Stewart said. "Maybe a pack of pencils can wait. Perhaps a new binder clip can be on hold for a few months."

And her constituents seem to agree.

"She's on the right path. She's doing the right thing," said Geoffrey Gumbs. "And I think everybody should hold on and wait, see what she does."

Stewart said the next step will come once an audit of all the city's departments is completed by Dec. 20.

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