First Selectman Steve Vavrek, who also handles the role of economic development coordinator, told Economic Development Commissioners he promotes Monroe's interests "24/7", doesn't "eat lunch" and "never sleeps" while performing his duties for the town — and he expects to see production out of all of them too.
"Do what other economic development commissions do or we'll get new people," Vavrek said during the EDC meeting Wednesday night. "If you're not getting the chairman's assignments done, whether it be R's, D's or U's, you have to be replaced."
Ever since Vavrek de-funded the economic development coordinator position two years ago, town Democrats have been advocating for a full-time coordinator, while Vavrek and fellow Republicans contend that it's not necessary and that most Connecticut towns and cities don't have one either.
"It's part of the job I do every day," Vavrek said of the responsibilities. "What I need is to have the EDC on board. I'm getting the job done and we're saving $40,000."
Vavrek said Monroe has 44 commercial vacancies, which he says is less than a couple of blocks in Hartford and Bridgeport, which have paid coordinators.
Of the reasons for Monroe's vacancies, the first selectman said "the economy's bad" and "we're getting taxed up the wazoo."
Vavrek said Monroe is redoing its zoning regulations, adding he will cut the town budget proposal for 2013-14 by $500,000 to $600,000 before presenting it next month, "because it ain't gonna pass as is."
'I'm Reporting to Myself'
On Wednesday night, Vavrek recited the economic development coordinator's responsibilities to the EDC.
He said the coordinator is supposed to be a staff resource to the commission. While Vavrek conceded that he does not attend all of the EDC's meetings, he said, "Four people come to see me on a regular basis. A couple do not."
The coordinator is supposed to report to the first selectman. "So I'm reporting to myself," Vavrek said.
The coordinator acts as a liaison to local, state and regional groups, which Vavrek said is already part of his job, adding he goes to regional planning and development meetings.
Another responsibility is to promote the town's interests. "Which is something I do 24/7," Vavrek said.
Vavrek said people always talk about getting on networking sites like Facebook and LinkedIn.
Using the new overhead projector in Monroe Town Hall conference room 204, Vavrek showed the Monroe Economic Development Facebook page he recently created, which already had 88 "likes." There he posts business related articles and information.
"This is something I was already doing on the Town of Monroe Facebook page, which has 1,853 likes," Vavrek said.
He also has The First Selectman's Corner.
Karin Wynkoop, an EDC member, asked, "Hypothetically, if people aren't on Facebook, they will go to the town site. What is on the town site?"
Vavrek went to the site and clicked on "Economic Development" bringing him to the EDC's page. "The EDC will have to do a little work here also," he said of updating it.
The town website also has links to the Facebook pages and visitors can sign up for Vavrek's email newsletter.
Vavrek said the town of Trumbull's library has a business resource center, so he had one set up at Edith Wheeler Memorial Library in Monroe.
In his own emails, he set up a signature with links to all of the online resources. Vavrek said it was time consuming to do, adding, "It's a good thing I don't eat lunch and never sleep."