Tuesday, April 01, 2008

Proposed town budget cuts

Here's the list of $80,000 in town budget cuts that will almost certainly be adopted on Thursday:

Stop loss - $13,750
Social Security - $3,000
Truck - $34,000
Police Department car - $14,000
Fireworks - $5,000
Server $3,000
Public properties - $7,250

I'm not quite sure who created this list... apparently it was either Ecke or Milone, but I got to the meeting late. And I understand there was some fuss over who created the list. I mean... if it came from Milone... some may argue that this is little more than a rubberstamp. Right?

Regardless, in an effort to further reduce taxes and spending, Ruocco offered additional spending cuts. (And an increased use of the surplus?? Again, I got there late and missed this.) Tom's suggestions:

Park & Rec - water - $1,000
Town Clerk - printing - $1,000
Elections - $1,000
RWA - $8,000
Roads - $14,000
Building repairs - $3,750
Library - $1,250
Training - $2,000
Education assistance - $2,000
Town Attorney - Charter revision - $6,525
Public Properties - $5,000
Capital non-recurring - $127,000

Of course, while these suggestions are important... they won't be going anywhere. The budget has already been decided (which is fine with me. Administratively, staff need some time to properly prepare the necessary resolutions). So, the budget will see a spending increase of 3.95% and it will include additional spending of:

$435,000 for the pool
$14,000 for a new strategic plan

among other ill-conceived spending programs.

Hi ho, hi ho... it's off to tax we go!

But none of this comes as a surprise to me. Remember, it is The Rubberstampers who decide. And they certainly wouldn't want to direct the Town Manager to do anything specific, such as not waste $14,000 on another strategic plan. After all, directing the Town Manager to do something (do anything, for that matter) could lead someone to make charges of Council members micromanaging the Town Manager:
And finally, something to keep in mind about the "budget cuts"... don't be surprised to see some of the above mentioned "cuts" reappear in the capital budget this July. Keep in mind, the rules for the capital budget require items to last more than five years and cost more than $110,000. But if that's the case, how did $8,000 for Town Hall carpeting get in the capital budget a few years ago? My recollection is that it was cut from the operating budget, then stuck in the capital budget.These aren't the droids you're looking for. Move along.

Tim White

31 comments:

Anonymous said...

Can you explain exactly what a "Strategic Plan" will do for us? Who will be doing it? And why is it so much?

Anonymous said...

It better not be Mr. Justin Adinolfi who did the last one. That should have been checked for "conflict of interest".

Anonymous said...

We are trying to cut spending on these small items which are probably important to each of these departments. Why not use $40,000 from the surplus and reduce the rest? It's not Fort Knox.

Anonymous said...

If it ever becomes a choice between the pool or the schools which would the public choose?

Anonymous said...

"the pool or the schools which would the public choose?"

Their is a hell of a lot more money to be saved from the school budget. The student population continues to go down and the staff continues to go up. At one time, teachers and municipal employees were underpaid, how times have changed. It's time that the pay and benefits of this group of people are aligned to that of the private sector.

It's time to start laying off some teachers and others just as a number of other towns are doing.

Anonymous said...

Is the police chief getting his 13 percent raise?

tim white said...

6:35 As far as I know, no. The TM removed it before providing his proposed (and soon-to-be-rubberstamped!) budget to the Council.

tim white said...

2:37 I heard today the Milford is looking at laying off 8 to 9 teachers. And Bridgeport's Mayor, Bill Finch, is proposing layoffs of 90 staff.

Anecdotal? Yes, but I'm guessing it's also indicative of the state.

Nonetheless, The Rubberstampers appear poised to conclude that Cheshire's taxpayers have $14,000 to waste on a strategic plan. Unbelievable.

Anonymous said...

The budget has already been decided (which is fine with me. Administratively, staff need some time to properly prepare the necessary resolutions). So, the budget will see a spending increase of 3.95% and it will include additional spending of:

$435,000 for the pool
$14,000 for a new strategic plan


So, Tim, are you saying you're going to vote in favor of the budget? I would hope if you don't agree with it, you'd vote against it.

Anonymous said...

How can there be a cut of $3000.00 to social security but I don't see any salary or position cuts or reductions? Isn't SS directly related to salaries as a percent? It can't be related to removing the pd chief's raise because it's too high a figure.

tim white said...

9:16 I s/h/b more clear. I'm not supporting the budget. I'm simply saying that the budget resolutions cannot (should not) be drafted immediately prior to the vote.

If you swing around spending levels and other items, you need to ensure the mill rate, etc. are all correct.

So it's the fact that it has been decided prior to the vote that I'm fine with... not the actual budget.

Sorry for the lack of clarity.

Anonymous said...

I wanted to comment on the posts saying we should "start laying off some teachers". It sounds kind of a petty grudge. As someone who supported the zero growth budget of a few years ago and supports one this year, blaming our fate on teachers is a terribly uneducated position. These are not people earning 6 figure salaries....most, the average teacher salary is only in the upper $40's. Want to try to raise a family on that salary.

No the answer isnt laying off teachers, who are hardworking, educated and dedicated people. if we want to look at salaries we shoudl be looking at administrator salaries. we should be looking at $14000 expenses for strategic plans.....let go of the grudge you have against teachers....

adb said...

This town is a mess.....our parks are in lousy shape, the schools are poorly run and in the facilities are in questionable condition. I see nothing but arrogance from Ecke, Hall and Altieri. We need more people like Tim, Jim Sim and Tom Ruocco on the council and in our town government. I dont care what party they represent, they should represent the people of this town first and foremost.

Anonymous said...

This town is a mess.....our parks are in lousy shape, the schools are poorly run and in the facilities are in questionable condition.
Lets be careful with that statement. You must remember, it wasn't that long ago when the Republicans had the majority.
We will never be a perfect town, but to say we are a mess isn't fair either. We are in the process of finishing a state of the art, boundless playground at Bartlem where a group of concerned citizens worked hard to raise much of the funds.
We have 88% of our high school graduates continuing their education. Their SAT scores are well above the national and state average, with 5 National Merit Scholars.
The facilities are in adequate condition, except perhaps for the pool.
Lets not give the people you state to be arrogant more reason to say we need to increase the budget. All the things you list will cost money to repair.
I do wish we had morre people like Tim on the council, but we need to deal with what we have for now until the next election.
I think Cheshire is a wonderful community, but we need to be more fiscally responsible while still continuing to have the wonderful parks and services that are provided to us.

Anonymous said...

The 5 Merit Scholars are Merit Scholars because of the lessons, learning principles, family time all learned at their dinner table, not because of the school system. Also, the majority are of non-white society and education has a higher priority in their culture than sports. Don't be fooled.

Anonymous said...

The 5 Merit Scholars are Merit Scholars because of the lessons, learning principles, family time all learned at their dinner table, not because of the school system.
Don't you be fooled either....Why aren't they home schooled then?They must be learning something in our schools. No need to bash many of the hard working educators who work for less pay then most people in Cheshire.

Anonymous said...

Who is going to be able to aford to live in this town when the taxes keep going up? It's also hard to sell a house with high taxes. Something got to give.

Anonymous said...

"No the answer isnt laying off teachers, who are hardworking, educated and dedicated people"

Don't get me started. Teachers and the entire public sector have become the privileged class. It doesn't matter what is happening to the economy or the struggles of people in the private sector.

The privileged continue to demand more and more as they dig into the pockets of the taxpayers. Teachers only work 180 days a year and for that they get unbelieveable benefits, medical, retirement and salary. Connecticut teachers are the highest paid in the country and it's time they are brought in line with the private sector and it's time to look at outsourcing these jobs.

Anonymous said...

You have misunderstood, no bashing of the teachers. It is the parenting at home that makes a larger difference in Asian cultures than in American homes. Americans are more concerned about getting something for nothing, having the public pay for stuff, more athletics, lack of holding kids accountable for behavior problems, keeping up with Jones, kids having a car so they fit in etc. Asian cultures are more concerned about teaching learning methodologies, focusing on math, sciences etc and not sports, cars or peer pressure.

Anonymous said...

If the student population keeps declining in Cheshire what excuses will the BOE use to request more and more money. Reality has to set in sometime. Start looking at the future and plan for it. Look at Milford.

tim white said...

Reality has to set in sometime.

It won't happen with this Council. Listen to comments from the majority. They believe that taxes should go up every year. But that's what staff tell them must happen... and so it must be done!

these aren't the droids you're looking for. move along.

adb said...

Anon 11:53, you said "We are in the process of finishing a state of the art, boundless playground at Bartlem where a group of concerned citizens worked hard to raise much of the funds." Your correct, the town government had nothing to do with it. Look at what took place this past week with the ballfields. CYB had to take it upon themselves with minimum help from the town to work on the fields. The town does little to nothing to maintain our parks. Our parks and recs facilities are nothing compared to what they have in southington, wallingford, hamden.....our town services are second rate compared to those towns. So yes, our town is a mess...poorly run and managed.

adb said...

Anon 12:22, you said "The privileged continue to demand more and more as they dig into the pockets of the taxpayers. Teachers only work 180 days a year and for that they get unbelieveable benefits, medical, retirement and salary. Connecticut teachers are the highest paid in the country and it's time they are brought in line with the private sector and it's time to look at outsourcing these jobs."

Your comments are just absurd.I keep hearing how teachers work only 180 days a year, but what most people fail to acknowledge is that they spent countless days and hours of personal time doing school related work. Further, they are required to take continuing ed and their own expense, provide school supplies out of pocket and end up being forced to parent children to those who parents are too inept or irresponsible to do it themselves.

Further, I dont know of any teacher in Cheshire or anywhere else, who is getting rich being a teacher. This notion that they are overpaid is blatently false and typical of those who have little understanding of the personal and financial committments they make in becoming teachers.

As for your comment about outsourcing teachers.....you just make yourself sound silly.
You want to cut the fat in the budget? Reduce the headcount and salaries of administrators. Stop funding absurdities such as the ski team, streamline the curriculum and hold the superintendent accountable for where the money is really going.

Again blaming the teachers is akin to blaming the mess that the US Auto industry is in on workers, when in fact its management which has completely mismanaged the business through arrogance and stupidity.

I keep seeing people say that we need to align the payscale of "these people", ie teachers with the private sector. Okay, how much is a college graduate with a master degree and considered experts in their field worth in the private sector? I can tell you its alot more than the $57k average teacher salary in CT.

You want to deal with the facts, or continue to spew uneducated nonsense?

Tim White said...

The town does little to nothing to maintain our parks.

At the January or February meeting, I noted that the town received funding from the state for a 90' baseball field at Bartlem Park. And I mentioned that the funding agreement is dated April 30, 2004. I then asked how much longer it would take to finish the field.

I was told it would take at least one more year to finish the field. So that's five years to build a ballfield.

(It took seven years to build the pool... and at least they dug a hole.)

Upon learning that it would take five years to build a ballfield, I voiced my frustration.

Forget about reprimanding staff... did anyone on the Council even ask for an assurance that the ballfield would be done next year?

No.

adb said...

Tim, I am not surprise. By the way, it will take roughly 3 years to build the new Yankee Stadium and the new home of the Mets, Citifield. And this town cant finish a ballfield in 5 years? Like I said, our parks and recs, public works departments are a joke. The fields at Bartlemm are a disgrace....and the majority of the town council finds it unacceptable to criticize this stuff. These guys have to go. I came to this town with alot of hope...I am simply disgusted at this point.

Anonymous said...

To adb, your comment about the boundless playground is not 100% correct. You stated "the town government had nothing to do with it.", which isn't true. The town council did approve to spend $144,000 to remove the old playground and prepare the area for the construction of the new playground. They actually saw that the old playground was falling apart due to little or no upkeep and they knew it was only a matter of time that they would have to replace it. This saved the town money by allowing the Kids in Motion people to use the land where the old playground was.
You are correct though, it takes concerned citizens to spend their time, money and energy to give this town some recreational areas. I took my kids to the ball field the other day at Chatman school and weeds and ruts were growing all over the field. I asked my 9 year old if she ever uses the field for gym and she said no, it's too dangerous and the gym teacher told her that the Park & Rec has to take care of it, they won't let the school. Different budget areas I guess.
Unbelievable!

Anonymous said...

Wait until someone gets hurt. Well, we have $8 or $9 M sitting there in case we need it. I believe we need it. Give some of it up to shape up the town. It's an investment.

Anonymous said...

Anon 9:25.....I complained about safety concerns at Bartlem regarding the ballfields, and basically was blown off......I have very little respect for our parks and recs director......

Anonymous said...

Anon 9:54 Yes teachers have to make a living. I agree there is much in the BOE budget that could be looked at more closely and all the money that is appropriated goes to educate the students. If someone wants fencing classes let them send their children to a private school. This is a public education system and we don't have to provide everything in the world.

adb said...

The problem is that we are too concerned with providing students with what they want instead of what they need. They dont need taxpayer funded fencing and ski teams, they dont need useless language classes such as french and latin. How about we dump them both and teach chinese or arabic?

How about we cut the number of administrators and hold their salaries as is? How about we make the superintendent account for hsi budget down to the dollar? Crazy talk...I know....

Anonymous said...

Imagine that almost 70% of the total budget can't be questioned by the TC. How can that be? How about revising this fiasco because the BOE certainly doesn't ask any tough questions.