In December, we often reflect on what the last year has brought to our lives, while at the same time we look forward to the new opportunities to come. In the city of Waterville, we’re dressed for the holidays and we have much to be grateful for.

It was little more than a year ago that, after lengthy debate, the people of Waterville decided it was in our best interest to come together as residents and government, and to work with and not against our nonprofit partners. We see now the fruits that have blossomed from that community spirit of enterprise and collaboration.

In my first month as the mayor, I was visited by David Greene, the president of Colby College. In our first discussion, Greene and I discussed a shared vision for a prosperous city that benefited both the college and our residents. Greene and the extended staff of Colby College have remained steadfast to our commitment and by partnering with city officials and local business and other nonprofit leaders, our vision is backed by real capital that already is leveraging new investments and improvements in the heart of our city.

Of course, the purchase of buildings and the planning of a beautified downtown would only be window dressing on empty hope if it had no greater goal. True economic rebound for Waterville will never be possible if we do not push the envelope further to bring back good-paying careers for individuals and families and that move our city and its economy into the 21st century.

Understanding the reality on the ground is a community in search of work and in need of a reviving tax base, it is with a warm heart that this year closes with the announcement that high-tech firm Collaborative Consulting is opening a new office, Collaborative Waterville, that during the next three to five years is expected to offer up to 200 positions to both senior professionals and young graduates who seek opportunity.

Bringing these jobs to Waterville was the result of multi-pronged partnership including nonprofits such as Colby College and economic development groups such as Maine & Company and the Central Maine Growth Council, as well as state and city government.

We would do wise to learn from the lesson that we work best when we work together.

With such great news at the forefront, we cannot forget that there is still much work to be done. Waterville has an education network that second to none, with Maine’s premier early childhood education center (Educare) and a public school system with dedicated teachers. We also have Mid Maine Technical Center, Colby College and Thomas College while being within miles of Kennebec Valley Community College, University of Maine at Augusta and Unity College.

Despite this education network, our teachers have been handcuffed by a Legislature that has thus far been unwilling to divorce itself from a multi-million-dollar lobbying effort by people who own copyrighted standards for testing. These people have never set foot in a classroom, but they offer consulting services to school districts on how to implement what are nothing but experiments on our students. I am talking about Common Core and proficiency-based education.

While good people of both parties have introduced legislation to let our teachers teach, they have been stymied by both Democrats and Republicans in Augusta who think they know better than local school boards.

Waterville, along with the rest of the state, continues to struggle with an overburden of taxes. If the Legislature has no will to restore municipal revenue sharing then we must demand that they support the governor’s efforts to reduce our income tax burden to provide relief to taxpayers and make our state attractive to do business.

While at times I have been a critic of the governor with regards to revenue sharing, we must give him credit for attempting to offset that cost increase with a bold plan to reform the income tax. The Legislature needs to make the next move to reduce the ever-increasing burden on the middle class.

It’s been a year of blessings for Waterville, but we still have much work ahead. Let’s roll our sleeves up together and believe in each other. We have every reason to be optimistic about our future.

I wish the people of my city a Merry Christmas and Happy New Year.

Nick Isgro is the mayor of Waterville.

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