Student steps up as borough burgess in Naugatuck
Alexander Roberts – Special to the Southern News
NAUGATUCK-Southern senior history major, Alex Olbrys, born and raised in Naugatuck, is the first 22-year-old borough burgess and is also one of only three republicans in the borough’s government.
Olbrys said he will be graduating in Dec. 2014 with a bachelor’s degree in History.
“Some of my goals personally are to help make the world a better place,” said Olbrys. “I started doing that when I was in boy scouts working on my Eagle Scout project doing community things such as food drives.”
Being involved with the Naugatuck government, Olbrys said, has been a lot of fun and very time consuming, but rewarding at the same time.
Tamath K Rossi, deputy mayor, has been mentoring Olbrys since his election.
“It is encouraging to see a young person within our community to get involved to the extent Burgess Olbrys has,” said Rossi.
His motivation to be an active community member, said Olbrys, began as a Boy Scout.
He said he got started getting involved with the town government when he was a freshman in college and was commuting back and forth to school, he said he felt the void of not being part of something more than himself.
Mike Bronko, Naugatuck Burgess and former Republican mayor, has been working alongside Olbrys for almost a year.
“Burgess Olbrys is a bright, hardworking individual who is very community oriented,” said Bronko.
“I appreciate the effort he has put in so far and I’m sure he’ll be around for a while to continue to help improve our Borough,” said Bronko.
Olbrys said he contacted Mayor Robert Mezzo to inquire about what he would be able to do, and the mayor informed him of an opening on the Inlands Wetlands Commission, in which Olbrys joined immediately.
According to Olbrys, even after becoming involved with the Inland Wetlands Commission, he never had any thoughts or intentions on running for Burgess.
“So far I have served as liaison to commissions such as the planning commission and the Visiting Nurses Commission prior to it shutting down, and now I serve on the Streetlight Commission, Daycare Board, and Arts Commission,” said Olbrys.
Despite being appointed to serving as liaison to the daycare board, said Olbrys, he has not made a meeting yet due to his obligations finishing college and his job at Walmart.
“In order to keep good checks and balances, Burgesses have the power to vote down any budget proposal the Board of Finance prepares, which them must be reduced,” said Olbrys.
Burgesses are not required to attend all Board of Finance meetings, but Olbrys said he attends every Board of Finance meeting relating to the town budget because he likes to be aware of every detail.
“It is important for me to understand their perspective and be on the same page as to why the Board of Finance creates any given budget proposed to the Board of Mayor and Burgesses,” said Olbrys.
In addition to helping create the town budget and serving on commissions, Olbrys said his other main obligation as a Burgess is to hear the concerns of citizens.
Olbrys is also a front end manager at Walmart.
“Working at Walmart has been good for me and the people because it allows me to be as accessible as possible to the public,” said Olbrys. “Being so accessible at Walmart has also helped me.”
According to Olbrys, he can properly direct any concerned citizen to the correct department as a result of being accessible to town citizens.
Voting on expenditures is not easy for him because he carefully think about each purchase in the light of how taxpayers would be affected, said Olbrys.
Photo Credit: Ronald Barnes