Sunday, April 05, 2009

09/10 Town budget - some random thoughts

There was a proposed budget that went to hearing last Thursday, but I doubt it will be the budget on the agenda when we vote.

Of the five members of the majority party - based on the budget meetings - I think only one member considers that proposed budget to be a serious option. Of course, I can't speak to the thoughts of two members of the majority because I haven't seen them at budget meetings this past month for more than a few minutes total. And few in town would expect one particular member of the Council majority to reject any serious cuts to the school budget beyond the fluff. And the final member of the majority... well... I think that particular member is focused on being the next Honorary Mayor of Cheshire... and will do anything to satisfy the moderate member of the majority caucus and convince that member to run for office this year.

Or I may be really bad at reading the tea leaves!

As for my concerns with the budget... I could vote for a budget similar to the one presented at last week's public hearing. Though I'm wondering if tomorrow's meeting is going to be a shell game in which the Council is told of spending "reductions" in the General Government budget ("reductions" related to retirements)... but those "reductions" are really just spending transfers from the operating budget to the pension fund. I certainly hope that's not the case because that would be little more than a shell game in which we're spending money today, but raising taxes tomorrow... exactly what the federal government and state government have done to create the fiscal mess we face today.

I also don't see how you cut education, the police or anything else... but not the pool.

Finally, I'm curious to know why some departments in Town Hall seem to get cut every year... but one notable exception to the rule is the Office of the Town Manager. Here we see new titles, new spending, new passport-required travel, new everything. This pattern of spending growth in one particular "department"... and the refusal of the Council majority to address it... gets tiring.

Tim White


Anonymous said...

Tim, you have stated in previous posts that since 2005 we have added 12 teachers and lost 220 students. Do you really want this to continue? The only way for the BOE to get the message is for cuts to be made to the school budget. Making the pool the deciding factor for the whole budget doesn't make sense. I agree something has to be done about that as well but sadly it's not going to be with this budget. If the taxpayers end up paying for the pool and an inflated budget that is a double wammie.

Anonymous said...

The town pool uses an idiotic design. We need to stop wasting energy and vast sums of tax payer dollars by closing the pool from mid September until Memorial Day, yearly.

The current teachers contract is idiotic as well. Especially relative to what the 10:58 a.m. post states, pupil load decreasing while number of teachers is continuously increasing.

Time for the BOE to make some serious structural changes to reel in its free spending teachers union and the superintendent.

Anonymous said...

The whole school system is archaic and can not be changed as long as there is a union and a state board of education that contributes no real value.

The basic school system has not changed in decades and as a result there have been almost no gains in productivity, even though thousands have be spent on modern buildings and computers.

It's time to privatize and break the same old system of nothing changing except for increased staff and cost. More cost does not translate to better education and it can actually have a negative effect, as learning resources are reduced inorder to pay for over an compensated staff.

Although teachers work less that 180 days a year and less than 8 hrs a day, they have left the private sector in the dust when you looks at the total compensation package. Connecticut has the highest paid teachers in the country.

Robert DeVylder Jr. said...

Lets throw all the teachers in the pool then we can fill it in. No teachers and no pool. Million dollar simulus for everyone!

Anonymous said...

During the last Town Council meeting, they said that they had just been told that Cheshire would lose another $500,000 of state funding, I think they said from the casino money.

Has the TM, been in contact with all our state representatives? Are all towns being hit equally hard or is Cheshire being hit harder because it's a rich town and its tax base has gone up after the reasessment?

If we have to pay $500,000 more, shouldn't we be told how much it will cost us?

Should we be writing to our state legislators and the governor?

Should we give the teachers more money, because their property taxes may go up?

Do we qualify for a bailout?

Anonymous said...

The pool could be the crown jewel of the town. It already brings in 1000s of people ayear in Cheshire (swim meets) and gives people of all ages healthy recreation. But it costs alot. Love your idea,Tim of getting Fed money to get a better covering. It serves more people than the senior center. It costs 500K a year..a half a percent of our budget.

Anonymous said...

Will the Free Spending Five demand the same concessions from town unions Governor Rell successfully obtained from SEBAC?

Robert DeVylder Jr. said...

When Cheshire hosts a swim meet, do the spectators pay to enter the facility and if they do, where does the money go? We would need 80,000 people to attend paying $5 for the pool to break even. Can we get the Olympics here? As Tim stated, the fed will not pay for the pool cover as it is a "want", not a "need" and does not provide an energy savings town wide. Sad to say, we should lease to pool to a private company and let them deal with the upkeep and revenue.

Anonymous said...

This type of spending has to stop. No one will be able to move to Cheshire because of the great education system. The reason will be that the Taxes are much higher than other Towns our size. The qualifications for mortage approvals are much more stringent and not many people have a 20% down payment ( especiallly young families). Our student population is decreasing every year. Why? Think about this. The TC has a very difficult job. They must think about the future of this Town and not give in to the Teachers union(who only show up at budget meetings when there might be a reduction). A 3.5-4% raise would have been great and our budget problem would be a little less stessful on everyone. This Town has a population of over 29,000 people with under 5,000 students and under 400 teachers and yet our budget for the 5,400 is over 70% of the $94m+ budget????

Anonymous said...

Remember, Florio is an administrator not a classroom teacher. His 'bias' is to focus on admin people and not teachers. There are too many admin people in the Cheshire School System.
Probably time to conisder a new TM--been here too long & too embedded to make real change. Tim, ask him about the $100K he spent on renovations to his office.

Anonymous said...

We'll get by this year with the onetime found money, but what about the next 2 years when we we get hit hard by the tax tsunami caused by the outlandish 4.3% teacher raises. The Cheshire education system is an outdated bureacratic albatross around our neck.

We can expect at least $500 dollar tax increases in the each of the next 2 years.

Has the town council considered the effect on existing businesses and Cheshire's ability to attract new businesses. While other towns have made progress in cutting the cost of government, Cheshire will not be able to compete for new business and will continue to lose what it has. And, the taxes will encourage childless households to move.

As we heard from many teachers during the last budget meeting,
Cheshire is a great place to work, but not to live in.

Anonymous said...

Here is a random thought...

When Florio calls on his troops to come and support him at a TC meeting, do the council members let those who don't live in this town (i.e. many of the teachers) influence their thinking(for the few TC members who do think)?

I truly believe that when the forum is open to the public and they are discussing matters that will affect the taxes each Cheshire resident will have to pay, they shouldn't let those who are municipal workers but don't live in our town speak. It is obvious they are in it for themselves and could care less if the rest of us get hit with higher tax bills.

Anonymous said...

Florio doesn't live in town as well as many teachers and staff. Why should they care if taxes go way up and we drive away business.

In a new poll, 70% of the people still emkployed are worried about losing their jobs, and at the same time teachers who have tenure and don't have to worry about a thing don't give a &%$( about sticking it to the rest of the people.

It is clear to the rest of the community that the teachers are nothing more than takers and the major cause for big increases in taxes next year and the following year.

Anonymous said...

I wonder what the other 300 teachers thought of the budget???