Friday, November 20, 2009

Rep. Fritz: "They are not slush funds!"

On Tuesday, the Council was discussing the turf. During the discussion I had an opportunity to ask State Representative Mary Fritz to help us understand the grant allocation process in Hartford. It was a question I began asking more than a year ago.

I started by offering some background:

In the news media there have been reports that there are these “discretionary funds” that actually total about $36,000,000 which are dedicated or allocated at the discretion of the Governor, the Speaker of the House and the Senate President on an annual basis. So they each have $12,000,000 discretionary funds.

In January or February of ’08, you were quoted – if I recall correctly – in the (Cheshire) Herald that the money for this turf grant came from the Speaker of the House’s discretionary fund.


I finished by asking the question I had waited well more than a year to ask her on camera:

What are the criteria used to prioritize the allocation of these discretionary funds?

Representative Fritz answered:

They are not slush funds. It’s called negotiations.



Please note that I did not mention the phrase "slush fund" at Tuesday's meeting. It was Rep. Fritz who started talking about slush funds in Hartford.

Tim White

54 comments:

Contoured Views said...

Sounds like she met with the turf heads before she spoke who advised her that we all look at those funds as "slush funds".

Behrer had to point out that this was bonded money....okay...so we don't really have it but the state has already agreed to borrow it, while we go deeper into debt.

It is scary to think that a woman with that type of thinking not only represents part of this town but is also the deputy speaker.

Did she really say that if you work hard enough you should be rewarded?

I work really hard so what will my reward be if this turf gets put in? Higher mill rates to cover the additional costs.

Maybe she will step down and help Amann run his campaign, then they could both be unemployed for a while.

tim white said...

I was thinking that Bob B had a slightly different purpose to his comment "It has moved to the next phase."

Anonymous said...

From $850,000 to $525 -- what a negociator!

Do I detect a little Pelosi-like paranoia with the "you know, I work hard?" But I guess that's the way society is today: show up for class, and you don't fail. I'm tired of paying people to show up, or even "work hard" -- I want results!

Call it slush or discretionary -- it's still my money!

"There are two kinds of truth. There are real truths, and there are made-up truths." -- Washington D.C. Mayor Marion Barry on his arrest for drug use.

Anonymous said...

I love how she just pulled $525,000out of a hat. Why not $600K or $700K. Why $525K??

She doesn't sounf like the brightest bulb when she was talking. It sounded like she immediately went on the defensive.

Did anyone ask her about re-directing the fund?

Anonymous said...

what do you call elim park's $300,000 'gift' to public safety? I call that slush hush fund.

Anonymous said...

The Elim Park annual gifts to both Cheshire Police & Fire are most generous and certainly voluntary on their part. The two departments certainly benefit, as do the taxpayers, because there are many items bought from this gift account that should legitimately come from each department's town operating budget and don't.

Anonymous said...

I believe that 1:33 is referring to the fact that Elim Park doesn't pay taxes do to their status as a religious charity.
I wonder of they lost that status how much the taxes will be??
It is a very fine line when you are operating an assisted living facility as well as a convalescent home, yet they don't make a "profit".

Anonymous said...

She should be toast....but this is Connecticut blue country.

Anonymous said...

Elim Park makes a voluntary payment in lieu of taxes. They benefit from state law that relieves them of not having to pay property taxes as do churches and other non-profits. They recognize that police and fire are important town functions that they directly benefit from hence their desire to provide funding above and beyond operational expenses. Taxpayers have greatly benefited from their voluntary benevolence as have these town departments with equipment and training taxpayers may otherwise be unable to pay.

Anonymous said...

4:20
If Elim Park was solely a place of worship, I would buy your argument. Have you looked into the costs involved in going to assisted living there?
Does Highland Healthcare have to pay taxes?

It is just a glitch in the system that allows them to be considered a place of worship.

Just wondering what the taxes would be if they didn't have the "non-profit" status. Would it be equal to the $300K. More? Less?

I think they know that they are skirting the system by calling themselves a non-profit and feel that if they donate $300K to the FD & PD we would leave them alone.

I still think they should allow the property where the chapel it to be claimed as non-profit and a place of worship, but the rehab center and the other assisted living places should be taxed like the rest of us.

Anonymous said...

the problem is that elim park donates money to the police and fire that isn't the issue the issue is where are they getting all this cash. they are getting it because they don't pay their fair share approx $600,000 to the town. don't tell me the town could not use this money. that $600,000 is the cost of the turf paid in full.

Anonymous said...

I thought this was about the turf and the slush fund money used for the grant. Forget Elim Park.
The $525000 is taxpayers' money. And it seems that the taxpayers will get stuck footing the bill for more in the future.

I wish the State would call this grant back. It's not a shovel ready project and I'm sure they could use it for something more important.

Anonymous said...

The turf "gift" is a classic symbol of the lunacy that passes for leadership in Hartford. Behrer's comment that the money is "bonded" was an attempt to make it appear legit. The fact is that it is slush money AND bonded.....which makes it even worse. The legislature allows "leadership" a slush fund of money to be used at their discretion. Who gets it does NOT have to pass through normal legislative channels and have scrutiny prior to its being "given" to whoever the leadership wants to dish $$$ to.
This would be bad enough if this money was from tax receipts....normal government income from citizens. In this case however the turf money had to be BORROWED. BORROWED!. This in a state that has one of the highest debts per capita of any state in the nation. This in a state that (last week) had to BORROW $950 million to cover expenses for the last budget year that ended in June 2009.
Mary Fritz ought to be tarred and feathered for BORROWING money for TURF!
For sewer repairs? Sure. For bridge repairs? Sure. For something NECESSARY? Sure.
For Turf? Turn the lady out of office. Please. November 2010 can't come soon enough.

Anonymous said...

I hope Fritz gets voted out of office. She has a nerve allocating all of this money for nonsense. It is not important the artificial turf. Artificial turf is for artificial people.

tim white said...

I understand that Elim Park is valued around $25,000,000. One can then bifurcate that to $5,000,000 for the hospital part and $20,000,000 for the residential part.

If you argue that the religious exemption is invalid, the hospital exemption still stands.

If you multiply $20m x 2.7% (or so), you get $540,000 in property taxes... or include the hospital part and get $675,000.

Elim Park provided $165,000 to the PD and FD this year for $330,000.

My understanding is that there was a similar situation in Wallingford as Ashlar Village was exempt from property taxes for some reason. After some discussion, Ashlar began paying 50% of what their property taxes would be.

50% of $540,000 = $270,000
50% of $675,000 = $337,500

Those are ballpark numbers, but I think they're reasonably accurate.

Anonymous said...

I believe Wallingford collects partial Real Estate taxes from Masonic Care for facilities such as other than non-nursing facilities. They still contribute to the town. They recently bought an ambulance for the town,

Anonymous said...

"They benefit from state law that relieves them of not having to pay property taxes as do churches and other non-profits"

Registered non profit orginizations are required to submit a tax return but do not pay taxes.

If we were to ask Elim Park to pay taxes on the property, then they should/would be allowed to remove the age restrictions on their facility. Would we want to add more kids to the school system? Does the town want to start removing their trash? Elim Park could easily add handicaped family facilities that would add families living in the complex. That would mean more cars, traffic, people that we do not need.

"Elim Park provided $165,000 to the PD and FD this year for $330,000."..."50% of $540,000 = $270,000
50% of $675,000 = $337,500"

So, Elim Park has been giving about town agencies about what they would give in modified taxes. If Elim Park were to forgo the PD and FD donations this year, and pay the town directly, it would be safe to say the budgets for the respective departments would increase about $165,000. Logic would tell me that if we were to make a stink about what Elim Park does with their money, they could easily decide not to donate any longer.

Ashlar Village use to make simular donations to Wallingford Police and Fire. Once the town "negotiated" a modified tax with them, they stopped giving donations. The town ended up paying for the money lost in the deal. The "free ambulance" was supplied by Ashlar Village in a deal to create better response times for marketing purposes.

Lets leave Elim Park alone as attacking them can only hurt the taxpaying residents.

Anonymous said...

And, to clarify, a non profit orginazation

"In the United States, nonprofit organizations are formed by incorporating in the state in which they expect to do business. The act of incorporating creates a legal entity enabling the organization to be treated as a corporation under law and to enter into business dealings, form contracts, and own property as any other individual or for-profit corporation may do.

Nonprofits can have members but many do not. The nonprofit may also be a trust or association of members. The organization may be controlled by its members who elect the Board of Directors, Board of Governors or Board of Trustees. Nonprofits may have a delegate structure to allow for the representation of groups or corporations as members. Alternately, it may be a non-membership organization and the board of directors may elect its own successors.

A primary difference between a nonprofit and a for-profit corporation is that a nonprofit does not issue stock or pay dividends, (for example, The Code of the Commonwealth of Virginia includes the Non-Stock Corporation Act that is used to incorporate nonprofit entities) and may not enrich its directors. However, like for-profit corporations, nonprofits may still have employees and can compensate their directors within reasonable bounds."

That said, non profits can make money. They have employees, management, and can charge a fee for service. They do not pay out surplus funds to stockholders or owners but instead uses them to help pursue its goals. Elim Park may make millions of dollars each year, but they can save that money and use it to further the work they do. (medical care, housing, research, rehab etc.)

Anonymous said...

elim park is being reported to the irs so let's see what happens

Anonymous said...

For What?

Anonymous said...

What do you have against Elim Park?

If they loose the Non Profit status, they can open themselves to anyone at any age and get away from being a hospital. That would be wonderful to have 100 or so more kids in our school system. How many more teachers would we need then? How many more busses? How much more could be added to the sewage treatment plant?

Anonymous said...
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Anonymous said...

4:48 -

7:36 makes a good point. Why dont you go after the Legionaires too? What do they give the town? Religous groups and hospitals recieve their tax status to help with their mission.

Anonymous said...

stop lying. elim park by paying the taxes they are supposed to be paying does not mean they will have to admit people of all ages. pay the taxes elim park everyone else does.

Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Tim White said...

reposted from 7:36

4:48 PM

DELETED

You think the IRS never sees tax returns from Elim Park? They have to file as any business entity does. They simply have a different status as does Yale, Quinnipiac College, Cheshire Academy, Legionaires of Christ, etc.

DELETED

Tim White said...

reposted from 9:58

hey 4:48 you know what people are getting sick and tired of you telling people to take meds when you don't agree with them.

DELETED

Contoured Views said...

You have to remember that Elim Park is not just a hospital or a place of worship. There are individuals who live there who are recognized as "Cheshire Residents" and able to take advantage of Cheshire facilities, yet they are not paying property taxes.
Is that fair?

Anonymous said...

But what services are they using? They don't get trash pickup, snow plowing, road work, don't use the senior center or the mini busses. They use the sewer system. Offsetting the PD and FD budgets by $165,000 is more than acceptable

Anonymous said...

It is not "more than acceptable"
With that point of view, then people who live in condos shouldn't pay taxes either. They have their own trash pick up, snow plowing, and most don't use the senior center.
When you determine the value of property, you don't look into seeing what services they are going to be using.
The people in Elim Park could use the Senior Center, the library, the pool at reduced rates.

Imagine if Elim Park didn't own that property and there were private homes there. What would their tax base be?

The bottom line is they are an assisted living facility and therefore should pay property taxes for that part of their property.
What they "donate" is lower than what the taxes would be.

Anonymous said...

And people in condos can have kids in the school system.

The residents of Elim Park don't use the senior center as they have their own facilities that far exceed our own. They have their own pool, transportation, activities.

Contoured Views said...

12:58
Okay, then in your thinking, what about thos living right around the block from Elim Park in Southwick.
They have all the same ammenities as Elim Park, yet they have to pay taxes.
Explain that one?

You won't be able to give a logical reason.

Anonymous said...

Are you sure? I believe Southwick is part of Elim Park. The entire complex is called Elim Park and each unit has different names. If they are paying taxes, it could be because there is no hospital or actual church on the property.

So, if Southwick is paying taxes and the rest of the facility is paying/donating 50% of the expected taxes, there should not be an issue.

I maintain that if we push the issue with Elim Park than the police and fire budgets will increase by $165,000 essentially wiping out any taxes recieved by the town. Other side of the coin is that Elim Park can decide to not make a donation at all and the town still has to find extra funding for emergency services. Where does the town win?

Anonymous said...

For everyones information

A portion of the Legionaries are now classified as a non profit institute of higher education and the town receives approx $179,000 per year from the state as payment in lieu of taxes. This will continue as long as they are accredited.

Contoured Views said...

We will still get some payment if we allow the exemption for the rehab center and the chapel.
We should not allow it for the assisted living area.
Doesn't make sense why we allow across the board exemption.

Anonymous said...

Which payment are you refuring to? Are you talking about a tax payment or a donation?

For the record, "we" do not allow the exemptions. The IRS and state Dept. of Revenue control that. For the town of Cheshire to collect roughly $300,000 per year in taxes that we already receive as a donation would take an act of Congress. Is it really worth it?

Anonymous said...

12:07 I do not use the sewer system, I have septic. I do not use the snowplow my road is private, I do not use the buses and I don't have kids in school. I pay taxes.

Contoured Views said...

I was referring to the payment of $179,000 that 1:35 said.

So are you telling me that Wallingford went and had an Act of Congress fix it so Ashlar would pay 50% ot their taxes?

Is it worth it you ask?
I guess I would have to know what the potential taxes we could receive versus the payment we receive from the state and the "gift" we receive from Elim.

What happens if 1 year Elim doesn't have a good year and they decide they can only give us a gift of $150,000 or even less? How do we make it up?

I just think that it should be looked at.
This town can't afford to lose any tax base or "gifts".

Anonymous said...

Acording to Tim, Elim Park would be paying between $270,000 - 337,500. Considering they donated $330,000 last year, they are being rather generous. Which budget item can afford (other than BOE) to take such a hit to recoup that amount if they were to stop donating because of this?

No, Wallingford did not change congress. They looked a gift horse in the mouth and spit. They requested that all donations be made to the town directly to be dispursed. These donations suddenly dropped off to the agreed upon value prior to the development expansion. Wallingford collects about $30,000 per year. Far less than Elim Parks donation.

6:36 - Stop nit-picking. I too have a septic system so I do not pay for sewer, like you.

Why would anyone in their right mind look to take money from public safety to pay for b.s. wants such as astro-turf and a swimming pool? People looking to tax a non profit are the same people that vote for Obama's health care and want to cut military funding.

Anonymous said...

what public safety? they don't protect anyone. Look what happened to the Petits.

Contoured Views said...

1:18
Look again at what Tim said.
The $270k to $337.5K would only account for 50% of the tax bill.
Don't act like they are doing us a favor by "gifting" that money to us.

Again, what happens if one year they don't feel like giving us anything?
They aren't obligated under law and this town needs to protect itself from that happening by negotiating a deal the way Wallingford did.

Okay, so Ashlar village isn't "donating" what they once did, but they are paying 50% of the tax bill. At least it's mandated that they must pay it. I would prefer 100%.

Quit acting like Elim is being overly generous to this town. They are the ones "looking a gift horse in the mouth".

Anonymous said...

50% is what Wallingford and Ashlar Village agreed upon. That was the amount have been using in this discussion all along. Elim Park is donating more than the estimated amount that 50% of the tax bill would be.

As far as Elim Park not donating, they have been donating since 1959, the year that they moved to town. Every year they donated money. My belief would be that the only way they would stop is if residents begin harassing them about the decissions that they make.

Ashlar Village was paying 50% of the tax bill. It is much less now. The amount agreed upon by the hospital and the town was set around $30,000 which was half of the tax bill when the facility was about 80% smaller than it is now.

Elim Park is being generous to the town. Their gift money has been used to make big dollar purchases that tax payers would cringe at. Where did the police tasers, bullet proof vests, utv, speed monitor trailer, an utility pickup truck come from? Elim Park gift money. Where does the fire dept get money for fire gear, hose, specialized equipment from? Elim Park gift money.

They are generous as they give the departments that can change a persons life the financial ability to obtain tools that the town and voters would otherwise reject or cut from a budget. I wish I had the option of deciding where my tax dollars went. The pool, BOE and park and rec would never see 1 dime.

"what public safety? they don't protect anyone. Look what happened to the Petits.

November 26, 2009 7:08 PM"

How could the police have done anything different? You are an idiot that needs to stop watching movies. They were not going to storm the front door. They were not going to send in Mel Gibson to take them down. The Petits were dead before the police arrived. There was nothing that could have been changed. You are truely an idiot that lacks logic and common sense.

Anonymous said...

12:07
Either you are on the board at Elim or have some financial investent there.
By saying that the only way Elim would stop giving the gift would be if residents started "harassing them", sounds like a childish threat.You better hope they don't threaten that.
I can't believe you continue to say that they are being generous by giving the town this money.
Perhaps they have been giving since 1959, but there is no obligation and that place has grown an awful lot since it began in 59.
You state that Ashlar Village is paying less than the 50% of the tax bill, but Tim says differently. I would like to know who is right there.
All the "toys" that the PD were able to purchase are nice, but if we were getting the full tax value we would be able to spread that money out over several department areas. We may have ended up with less tasers or an older pick up druck, but other departments would benefit.
This town is not in great financial condition right now. The burden is placed on all of us who continue to pay the taxes that we are told we owe. I wish I could say I was giving a gift and tell the town where I want it used and not used. Unfortunately, I can't.

Anonymous said...

My only connection with Elim Park is the shared commitment to preserving human life. Elim park's donation has allowed every police officer the ability to carry a taser on duty. Numerous lives have been saved to date because the police have a non lethal option to subdue a suspect. These taser are not cheap either. At $1000 a piece, would you rather to taxpayer pickup the check? Worst off, would you want to be the person who has to notify a mother that her child was shot because that officer didn't get to carry a taser that day?

Why are you pushing the idea of taking money from public safety, from preserving life, and put it to an idiotic idea such as a turf field or fixing a pool? Really sounds like you have your priorities confused. There is nothing turf can do to prevent crime, save your life, or take a drunk driver off the street

Anonymous said...

7:54
Come on now, you must be a paid employee of Elim Park.
"Preserve Life"? What does that have to do with them paying their fair share of the taxes?
What if we all could decide how our "gift" of taxes to the town would be spent?
I am not a turf advocate nor am I a pool advocate. I could care less if we had either.
I just feel that using your exempt stauts as a "religious institution" is really stretching it when they are selling assisted living apartments for $300K.
Does this town need to have tasers for every police officer? I can't answer that. How often have they been used to subdue someone since they have received them? Do we need to get our roads plowed and swept, our streets maintained, our schools and other public buildings in good condition? Yes.
Why not give the money to get the locker rooms repaired? No, we had to put that to referendum and borrow to fix them.
It makes no sense!

Anonymous said...

So you would rather fix the lockerroom than have AED units in first responders hands? Either your priorities are confused or you banged you head into too many lockers. Maybe you should move to a town that is not affected by state and federal tax laws.

Anonymous said...

No, I would rather have people pay their fair share of the taxes.

I used the locker room as an example. Elim Park can specify where their money goes to.

Who's to say that if they paid their fair share of the taxes we wouldn't be able to have more AED's or tasers?
Perhaps we're limited becasue we aren't getting enough back.

Your priorities are messed up. WE have real issues that need to be addressed in this town. Wants and Needs---we must take care of the needs first.

Imagine if we all lived in a town where we could specify where our tax money is used. We would be in pretty bad shape.

Anonymous said...

hey idiot=the petits were dead BEFORE the police arrived. No the police were there at 9:30 a.m. and watched one of the home invaders leave and come back then listened to them scream and burn to death. nice going cpd they don't deserve this money from a religious organization to boot.

Anonymous said...

Which book did you read that in? Never heard that the cops watched someone leave the house. How did the cops know about the invasion BEFORE Mrs. Petit left the note at the bank?

Idiot, you should read "In the Middle of the Night" - learn some of the facts in the case.

Anonymous said...

"No, I would rather have people pay their fair share of the taxes."

Unfortunatly, under tax code, they are. Tax code allows non profits exemption from paying property and sales taxes. As far as people paying their fair share, what about people getting tax breaks on weather sealing their houses or buying a hybrid car. How about the seniors paying the full amount of their taxes. If Elim Park has to pay full share, the seniors should too!

"Perhaps we're limited becasue we aren't getting enough back."

Enough what? Whats limited?

Contoured Views said...

"Idiot, you should read "In the Middle of the Night" - learn some of the facts in the case."

Lets be careful with that comment. Who is to say the garbage written in that book are the "facts"? It is one of the accused's versions of what happened, not the facts.

12:20
Those who receive tax breaks for energy saving changes to their homes are still paying some taxes. Seniors, who have paid full taxes most of their lives, are still paying some taxes.
Elim Park doesn't. They give out gifts to the departments of their choosing.
I don't understand why the assisted living area is not separated from the rehab center and the chapel and forced to pay taxes on that part.
To compare it to people getting tax breaks is not even close to the same.
Seniors deserve and must be given tax breaks. If all the seniors move out of this town because of the taxes they have to pay, we would end up with more familie moving in putting an added stress on our schools.
I agree with a previous poster, you must have some financial interest in Elim to not see how they are getting away with not paying their fair share of taxes.

Anonymous said...

"Seniors deserve and must be given tax breaks"

HELL NO!! I dont get a tax break, so they shouldnt. They use the same services that I do and then some. They get shuttle busses and a senior center. What do I get extra for paying ALL of my taxes?

Elim Park Baptist Home owns the church and the hospital. They are tax exempt because of their religous affiliation. Because they own all of their property under 1 name, everything on the property is exempt. We simply have to deal with that.

Before we tax someone already giving the amount they would be taxed, why not tax those that have no right to be exempt. You want everyone to pay their fair share, start with the seniors.

Maybe I should start a petition to get the senior tax credit removed. Non-elegible people outnumber the seniors.

Contoured Views said...

4:26
I hope you never become a senior citizen on a fixed income. I am not one but I hope when I am, I can afford to live in this town.

Again, I say, if we don't give these seniors some sort of tax break (I am not saying exempt), we risk losing many of them to families with kids who will cause all of our taxes to increase due to the added services, specifically education.

By your reasoning about Elim Park, if St. Bridgets were to buy property surrounding their facility and built condos that they sold to their parishioners, they should all be exempt, right?

Go ahead and start a petition. You may think you're in the majority, but you will quickly find out you aren't.

Anonymous said...

Yes, St Bridgets can buy the land and build condos. They do not pay taxes for the church, office, field, or school.

Seniors use more services than Elim Park residents, so they should be paying full taxes. Seniors recieve MORE services than the average working resident yet they get a break. How is that fair? Use more services and pay less taxes? What they make is not my concern. They should have prepared better when younger or be prepared to work longer. Why should I pay my full tax bill so the elderly can take a town owned bus to bingo? Can I take that bus? NO. Do I get to hang out at the senior center? No. Shut down the center and let them go to the bar next door. They would never notice.

If these deadbeat seniors cant pay their tax bill, take their house. The town would do that to you or me without hesitation.