2024 Inaugural Address

Mayor Shaunna O’Connell

2024 Inaugural Address

Thank you for your support once again.  I am so deeply honored to be your Mayor.

Every day I go to work with one mission: to honor the trust you have placed in me to serve as your Mayor. As a lifelong Tauntonian, I love this community, and I am faithfully devoted to our city, our people, and our goal of making Taunton a Leading City for all.

Since being sworn into office 4 yrs ago, we have made great progress together. 

There is a new vitality pulsing through our city. Whether it’s new businesses opening, our innovative programs, upgrades to infrastructure and parks, the new public safety building, or our excellent financial standing, it can be felt across Taunton in every neighborhood. 

Our future is only limited by our dreams, and in Taunton, we Dream Big.

We have always proudly been known as the Christmas City, and now Taunton is on the map for leading the way in financial strength, recruiting businesses and developers, and creating innovative model programs that support economic growth, our children and families and our seniors and veterans.

 

All of this revitalization did not happen in a vacuum. It happened because we are a community that cares. 

 

Our dedicated city employees always go the extra mile. 

Our local businesses are our partners in revitalization. 

And our citizens are the lifeblood that makes Taunton special.

 

To make great strides, our first step had to be improving our finances and fiscal outlook. One of my proudest moments as Mayor has been the upgrading of our bond rating to AA+, putting Taunton in the top tier of communities in the Commonwealth.  I want to thank Patrick Dello Russo and his team for all their efforts. 

Our new and improved rating will be the gift that keeps on giving by saving millions of tax dollars in borrowing costs.

And we didn’t stop there.  Our fiscal outlook continues to improve. We have been informed we are going to receive the Certificate of Excellence in Finance, the highest recognition in North America.

Taunton will soon join the elite status of communities with this prestigious recognition for our fiscal accountability that we will be announcing in coming weeks.

 

With a laser focus on fiscal management, we have been able to keep our promise to meet the pressing needs of our community and improve quality of life.

In 2022 we created Taunton’s first ever five-year Capital Improvement Plan to address road repair, sewer and water mains, parks, public buildings, and equipment maintenance.

 

But our Capital Improvement Plan is unique because we went further to support our community with the Helping Hand program, veteran services, opioid mitigation efforts, and economic revitalization.

 

You’ve seen the results, and this coming year you will see continued work and progress in all those areas as we roll out our next fully funded Capital Improvement Plan.

 

While we’ve worked hard here in Taunton, we have been hit hard by the national problem of inflation.

As your Mayor, a mother, wife, and homeowner, I know how this is hurting family budgets and stretching paychecks. 

Keeping Taunton affordable is a top priority, and our entire City Team has worked hard to support Tauntonians on all fronts. I am proud to work alongside our City Team every day. 

We doubled senior tax relief; created funds to support students, seniors, and veterans; offered free waste disposal days; and created the first home visit wellness program in Bristol County. 

We’ve cut fees, created incentives to bring businesses and jobs to our community, and created new revenue sources to improve infrastructure and keep the burden off the taxpayers. 

 

In everything we do, we put people first.

 

While together we have accomplished so much in such a short time, there is still work to be done.

Our Team sees the opportunity that lies ahead, and 2024 is going to be another exciting year of progress.

Our Marketable Properties Program has brought in $1.2M for investment back into the community, and you will see expanded economic revitalization programs to support business and housing development.

 

We’ll continue to preserve open spaces and renovate our parks, creating our first park for older Americans and the first dog park in the City. 

 

We will double tax relief for our veterans and begin our free trash bag program for seniors.

 

We will present a revised Charter to deliver 21st century government operations and services.

 

To support our students, families, and teachers with the needed space to provide excellence in learning, we will ask City Council to turn this building over to Taunton Public Schools.

 

We are excited to initiate more solar projects that deliver clean energy and savings to taxpayers.

 

After more than four decades of waiting, this spring we will break ground on the new public safety building that will provide the needed space, technology, emergency dispatch, and training facilities for our first responders, and deliver enhanced public safety to our entire community.

 

Our Team is committed to our positive vision of making Taunton a Leading City in the Commonwealth on all fronts. 

 

It is a privilege to work with all the elected officials being sworn in tonight, and I wish them all much success.

We are all called upon to work in cooperation for the greater good. Collaboration, partnership, and teamwork will continue the revitalization of the community we all love, and together, we will continue Taunton’s upward journey.

 

I’m grateful to this community, to you, for the privilege and honor of serving as your Mayor.