Monday, December 15, 2008

Tom Ruocco on the Dec 16 budget meeting

A guest post from Tom Ruocco:

There will be a joint meeting of the Council and Budget Committee, and special Council and Board of Education meeting, on December 16th, at 7:30 pm. It has been requested that this meeting be televised, so it will likely be held in Council Chambers.

The idea of a mid-year review was raised during the budget meetings earlier this year, and I asked for a meeting back in October. Obviously, economic conditions have become much worse since then. We must make the effort to prepare for the possibility of state cutbacks, not only in the current year, but also in the next 2-3 years. The State is projecting a deficit of 300 million dollars this year, and as much as 6 BILLION dollars through 2012.

I hope that citizens will make the effort to attend. For the past couple of meetings, citizens have approached the Council with concerns about spending and higher taxes. I think the assessments we received really shook people up. Residents are baffled at how their property values increased, and have been expressing a lot of concern over how this will effect their tax bill. I have specifically mentioned, at the last two budget meetings, that I would like to see taxes held steady for the next budget year. I will work toward this goal on behalf of taxpayers.

Let me say this; taxes are not tied to property values as much as they are tied to spending. The real issue spending, and the willingness to address it. For example, at a time when we are confronting so many fiscal challenges, is it really necessary to hold meetings about artificial turf? I think there have been at least 4-5 turf meetings, and so far only one scheduled meeting of the budget committee. Someone needs to get their priorities straight.

Please attend the meeting on December 16th. This is your Council and your money. If we do not address the trends in spending, taxes will continue to rise dis-proportionately to income. In a time of recession, companies cut back, people tighten their budgets and we learn to live within their means. Elected officials must follow suit. Your input will be invaluable in conveying how important it is to address spending in Cheshire.

During last year's budget cycle, I proposed an alternative budget that was about $500,000 less than the Democrat's proposal. It failed. During the Capital budget process, I proposed an alternative that was about $600,000 less than the Democrat's proposal. It also failed. I am convinced that my proposals would have made it easier to deal with the situation we are in now. It's one thing to live during the good harvest, but it's another to prepare for the bad harvest. We all saw this coming back in April - it's time to take action.

We'll see what happens at the meeting. I hope to see you there.

Tom Ruocco

(For a bit more clarity on Tom's mention of meetings... it was October 2 that I posted an email sent by Ruocco to Ecke / Esty requesting a mid year budget review. Since then, the budget was "discussed" once... and forget public input... even Council discussion was prohibited. But I'm pretty sure there have been several turf meetings over the past few months. Has anyone been keeping track? I agree with Tom... some members of Cheshire's majority party ought to be regauging their priorities. - Tim White)


Anonymous said...

It would be helpful if this meeting was listed in the Cheshire Herald in their "Weekly Town Meeting Schedule."

Anonymous said...

Be honest with us Tom, do you think you have a chance at convincing the dems that we can't affprd a tax increase while they continue to spend wildly?
I hope you are a good salesman, the town needs you!

tim white said...

Tom can yell at the top of his lungs, but it must be difficult for one to hear anything when one's head is buried in the sand.

Seriously... there's plenty turf talk, but has there been any talk of a hiring freeze? Does it make sense to hire someone for the winter snow routes, only for him/her to learn the job can't be funded next year because of huge state budget cuts?

Anonymous said...

Tom Ruocco is the voice of reason, fairness, and sanity. But with the democrats in the majority, nothing will change. This town,like our nation, became strong and great because of conservative management and ideals. If there is any time for fiscal conservatism it is now. But with the dems on this council, good luck.
Florio has outlived his usefullness to this town. He refuses to make the tough decisions and he can only manage with more and more money added to the salary accounts. He's not the type of manager that can stand up to an unhappy union if there were to be layoffs, givebacks or God forbid, larger class sizes. In good times, Superintendents cruise; tough times separate the men from the boys.

Anonymous said...

"He's not the type of manager that can stand up to an unhappy union"

That's for sure. He sounds more like the union leader. His top priorities are teacher salaries and benefits, last comes students and taxpayers. It's time to hire a superintendent that is in tune with the times or outsource the management.

Anonymous said...

The Supt of Schools should be required to live in Cheshire--out of Town and then give him a car & mileage allowance....