Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Council / BOE meeting 2/24/09

The full Council met tonight with the Board of Education. The topic was the budget.

Of interest was a potential request for a bid waiver for the school bus contract. Paul Calaluce explained his concern that a contract extension has been offered. It would be a five-year extension, including increases of 4.8% the first year and 4% each additional year. Paul also shared his concern that similar contracts have been seeing annual increases of 10%. So his feeling is that the BOE (and Council) should waive the bid. I'm uncertain about this. I generally don't like waiving bids, but am open-minded... depending on additional information. For instance, I asked when those "10% bids" happened. That is, if the proposals were being drawn up before the economy entered free fall... then the numbers will probably be impacted. Alternatively, if the bids were from a few weeks ago... the "10% bids" are probably similar to bids we would receive today. Anyway, this was just a comment from Dr. Florio about what is coming down the pike.

Then the discussion jumped over to different parts of the budget... and most everyone had something to say. But the most relevant point came from Jimmy Sima. He asked what line items were getting cut from the budget in relation to the $1.1 million BOE cut... as well as where other likely cuts would be made.

For some reason Council Chairman Matt Hall commented on how that never happens... which is partly true. My recollection of recent BOE budget cuts is that they don't offer any suggestions about what will be cut. But I always remembered Jimmy Sima offering specific changes... it's just that other Board members basically refused to acknowledge that Jimmy had done his homework. And if they acknowledged it, they may need to agree / disagree with his suggestions.

Another comment that caught my attention was when Laura Decaprio said something about how there's no fluff in the budget (if I heard her correctly). Of course, that's what I heard back in 2006 from BOE members... who were none-to-pleased when I sent this letter to the Herald detailing the fluff in the budget. But I'm "sure" there's no fluff in there now!

Anyway... this post is running long. Did anyone even see tonight's meeting? Between the UConn girls playing and President Obama speaking... I'm guessing not-too-many residents watched tonight's meeting.

Tim White

9 comments:

Anonymous said...

A waste of time this meeting was. No hard discussions, when Jim Sima tried Hall shuts him down. Nobody wants to make the hard choices and tell the public what will be cut. If the public stayed home to watch a bunch of spoiled females play a stupid game then they desire every tax hike they get. This is the problem, people put sports ahead of learning.

Breachway said...

There shouldn't even be a discussion about "fluff"...I hope Dr Florio didn't add fluff in this proposed budget. We need to look at hard cuts. Fluff should already be tossed out not only for next year but for things already approved for this year. This isn't a time to say "oh there is no fluff in this budget so it must be a bare bones proposal". This is a time for cuts- period.

Anonymous said...

A OBSERVATION FROM OUT IN BUSINESSLAND

Your web site continues to provide a long stream of town bid waivers for any number of expensive goods and services. In all cases these were for items and activities which could easily be scheduled months or years in advance.

Has anyone on our illustrious TC or maybe even our highly paid TM ever thought that the successful firms providing us with goods and services are no doubt at least as good as the town is in planning. In fact I'd bet they are a whole lot better and at least in some cases they are trying to control what the town does going forward by helping the town eliminate competitive bidding for their services.

Organizations that continuously use bid waivers are doing a big disservice to all their stake holders. Managers who rely on bid waivers rather then focusing their charges into conducting business in a more above board fashion should at the very least have their annual pay raises cut or eliminated. Town organizations which time-and-again return to the TC speaking about bid waivers may need reorganization.

Anonymous said...

A OBSERVATION FROM OUT IN BUSINESSLAND- the problem is this isn't business land. If it was, things would be run much differently. Sometimes I just don't get how some of these things happen. To bad Matt Hall doesn't work for a regular company....I votes for him but I really don't think he gets it...

Anonymous said...

only way is to vote all the Dems out of office--reps have a 7-0 majority and then cut the bejesus out of EVERY expenditure in the Town budget...

Anonymous said...

If the public stayed home to watch a bunch of spoiled females play a stupid game then they desire every tax hike they get. This is the problem, people put sports ahead of learning.

You sound bitter....

Let me ask you this, your first sentence was "A waste of time this meeting was.", so why should we all waste our time.
Do you really think Hall and the rest of them would even listen to the public? They haven't in all the years that they have been around.
So, before you condemn those of us who stayed home. re-read your comment and you will have the answer to why we stay home.
Those of us who have taken the time to email our TC members(except for Tim), without a response, know that they all have their own agendas and could care less what the public wants..

Anonymous said...

Anon 1:25

I'm not bitter at all. Your point of the TC not wanting to to hear from the public is also correct. How many times in the past has the Council had public hearings on a subject and then vote party lines the same night. A good question, why do we waste out time. If people fail to show up and participate we will wake up one day and found out we really have been screwed.

The meeting was a waste of time because the dialogue lacked real input and suggestion on how to deal with the problems, it appeared to be more political posturing.

Anonymous said...

When the council tried to get a feel for what was happening with the superintendent speaking with the unions, I was struck by the response that said the unions "don't want to be the first to blink..".
So I guess they're saying they won't make a move or a concession until some other towns' unions make the first move to concede.
I thought our teachers were "leaders" not "followers." It's a bit disappointing that they're taking this position.

brainflation said...

Tim,
East Hartford sent their bus contract for bid after hearing the same scare tactics. The bus costs will now be almost the same as last year.

A little ammo for your fight.