Budget Time Again

04Mar10

Miron's Budget Process

Between now and May 30th, Stratford must generate a workable budget. For years and years this had been done on a “hypothetical” basis. The usual practice had been “we got away with this much last time, let’s add a couple of percent”. At this point it is doubtful that anyone knows how much anything actually costs. Over the last 4 years, it was even worse. Miron’s method was “let’s get it approved and I’ll steal it later”. In other words, whatever ended up in, say, the Recreation Budget or the PW budget would be transferred later to Berchem Moses & Devlin or Kent Miller.

Then there are those election “promises” Miron made, like retroactive pay increases to the Public Works union in return for taking a zero before election time.

It would be nice if zero based budgeting were instituted so that we knew how much things actually cost. That would require that department heads knew what they were doing. It would also require some assistance from a Finance Director that we don’t have yet.

And then we have the unions……

To be honest, after working for 4 years under Miron, they all deserve bonuses. But there is that reality thing about the economy. Harkins and the council face a true dilemma. Raising the net property tax is not a viable option. No one in Stratford has gotten any significant raises (except maybe for Sudds) this year and many have been laid off or their company has closed. Raising resident’s monthly mortgage/rent payments will put many over the edge and result in mortgage defaults and foreclosures. The same is true for commercial taxes on retail businesses.

So if anyone has any ideas….

Advertisements


117 Responses to “Budget Time Again”

  1. 1 jezebel282

    One idea is getting rid of positions that don’t really perform anything that can be called “productive”. Like Deputy Chiefs for instance. That would save over $200,000/year.

  2. 2 sudds

    ” It would also require some assistance from a Finance Director that we don’t have yet.”

    What does this position pay, and where do I apply??? I’ll guarantee taxpayers a 5% savings!!!

  3. 3 1george1

    Actually Jeze over $ 200,000 is a conservative number, when taking in
    consideration for budget related decisions.

    I have a pretty good idea of what things cost in Stratford.

    As much as we love to blame Mirons / Burturlas, the Republicans
    control the Board of Educations and Town Councils.

    They control Budgets.

  4. 4 1george1

    Are Stratford’s Taxes 50 % too high – because of the RTC + DTC?

    “I believe in good pay, good benefits, and good pensions.”
    “Social Security and many Pensions are unreasonably LOW!”

    Stratford Defined Benefit Pensioners cost :
    $ 17,230,395.87 Annual Pension Obligation as of July 24, 2009 or
    12 % of Stratford taxes:
    3.86 Mils of 30.36 Mils,
    to only 593 retired out of 880 or 980, in the Benefit plan.

    Stratford pensions:
    7 Pensions over $100,000?
    95: over $50,000?
    235: over $ 30,000?
    285: over $25,000?

    Whose contributions can’t justify Sikorsky’s $ 24,480 annually:
    30 year pension @ $68/Month.”

    Comparing social security, defined contribution and defined benefit plans, where can Private Sector people get what Stratford’s highest pensioner got?
    * $ 84,850 base pay:

    * 12 month compensation $ 237,718.41

    helping obtain
    “ $ 134,525.28 annual pension ”

    employment lifetime contribution
    $ 140,107.79

    * getting back over $ 44,438.94 cash out when retirement,

    meaning: $ 95,581.85 total “pension contribution” =
    gets $ 134,525.28 annual pension + Health care +??

    Don’t believe me?
    Check Captain McNeil’s Grievance and FOI finance Department

    Which Law firms, labor consultants, politicos, and business people represent “both Stratford & Bridgeport?”

    Who have profited from delays and acts related to: Pensions; Health Insurance; Building needs; Attorney fees; AVCO’s 3 bidders; Shakespeare’s 3 bidders; Airport-Long Beach West billing; Animal shelter; Poisoned Raymark Dumpsites-250 acres ground water;

    Does it appear “political business people-lawyers” bribe Town/State/Federal oversight personnel?

    Warning: Arthur Anderson audits were subverted by Enron with holding material and relevant facts.

    Unions request.

    Management grants.

    Business-Residents’ property taxes pay.

    However, if Town Committees’ key people and management’s motives are quid pro quo manipulation?

  5. 5 jezebel282

    Sudds,

    “What does this position pay, and where do I apply??? I’ll guarantee taxpayers a 5% savings!!!”

    Judging from the recent appointments, I’d guess it pays about $88,000 plus bene’s.

    John Harkins, Mayor
    Town of Stratford
    2725 Main St.
    Stratford, CT 06615
    mayor@townofstratford.com
    203-385-4001

    Note: I don’t think they pay commissions.

  6. 6 1george1

    Sudd’s I projected ways to lower taxes from 30 mils to 20 mils.
    – My Website, this blog, the archives videos of 6 mayoral debates
    are litered with my specific identification of waste and suggestions
    to reverse lost revenues and wasteful spending?

    You want a job projecting 5 % savings with no specifics?

    NOW I KNOW YOU are a REPUBLICAN!!!! 😉

  7. 7 sudds

    “You want a job projecting 5 % savings with no specifics?”

    Based on the trend over the last four years… this equates to like a 22% savings!!!

    ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

    “I don’t think they pay commissions”

    Hmmm… then make that a 2% savings!!

  8. 8 cstratct

    Well we’re going to start by adding nearly 6% on the education line, which means we’re going to need a lot more than $200K. While I understand the increases to health insurance premiums because I have experienced it first hand, there is still the administrative salary issue with the BOE. 27 principals and asst. principals each making more than $100K per year? How many adminstrators in the BOE make more than the Mayor of Stratford? If there’s a 5.66% increase on the BOE side, there are going to have to be a lot of offsets on the town side if we’re going to get to a 0% increase.

  9. 9 jezebel282

    Cstrat,

    “there is still the administrative salary issue with the BOE. 27 principals and asst. principals each making more than $100K per year?”

    Don’t forget bonuses. They get bonuses too.

    “How many adminstrators in the BOE make more than the Mayor of Stratford?”

    All of them.

  10. 10 phineast

    From discussions I have heard there will be no offsets on the town side. I have also heard that while the insurance issues are a problem so is the fact that the teachers union and administrators did nothing in the salary line to alleviate the the cost difference. The discussion has been while children are our future and are very important the rest of the population lives now and has equal if not more value because they are the ones forking over to pay the taxes.
    BOE numbers budget = about half of what is taken in with tax revenue.
    BOE utilizes town side services at no extra expense to maintain their buildings, their fields and grounds, parking lots and snow removal….now add those costs into the total-seriously tilts it to a much higher number of tax dollars actually being used on BOE responsibilities. Something has to give-and the town side has held firm and steady with the exception of the previous town attorney’s office-it is my hope that the new TA will hold a tighter handle on the cost of that office.
    It seems to me that the BOE is going to take a serious hit this year-if they are smart they will begin to convert all the currently covered extra curricular expenditures to non budget items, do some major administrative trimming, hopefully through attrition, and maybe extend the walking distances to be met before giving away free school busing. Unfortunately the pain has to be spread around and the BOE can rally parents all they want-no one can afford what they say they need.

  11. 11 mayor2013

    Has anyone besides me notice that the Mayor’s department head hirings to date, have NO municipal experience or exposure? BIG MISTAKE!

    There will have to be some very tough decisions about the budget. Yes, probably many assistants from both sides, municipal and board of education should go. They mayor has the power to do it on the municipal side but he only can cut the funds on the BOE – whatever they decide is within their power. However, the entire budget needs to be reviewed line-by-line and all of the extras have to be eliminated for this year and maybe many years to come. No conferences, no unnecessary travel expenses, furlough days from employees, layoffs, everyone has to do more with less, etc etc – it is not going to be pleasant – but it must be done. If you have a job today and health benefits be grateful. There are so many who do not. Taxes cannot be raised – and wherever the cuts have to come – they must come.

  12. 12 1george1

    At last year”s BoE Budget Workshop ….

    I was the only public attendee

    Over 50 % of the teachers are at top pay of over $ 87 – $ 92,000
    for 186 days work.

    Not gripin. Just pointing reality.

    I stunned Irene Cornish when she first came to Statford about the
    Administrative Empire, O’Connell had.
    – The higher the pay for Teachers = higher pay for Principles/Assists.
    – The higher the pay for Principles/Assists = higher pay for assistant
    Superintendents and Key Staff.
    – The higher the pay for for assistant Superintendents and Key Staff=
    The higher the pay for for Superintendent.

    – Hire the right people, steer business, in Town / BoE to FOP, the
    better chance for reappointment or great placement to future …
    – > What Law Firm reps over 24 CT. BoE and has influence in others
    and various Towns / Housing / Parking authorities.
    – > Which is a better gig?
    – Towns with very high profile – very high Attorney Fees
    – BoE with lower profile – lower Attorney Fees, but far more jobs/influence?

    People who attended years of Budget Hearing can testify that I pointed
    possibilities of eliminating some assistant priciples and principles by having
    floaters and letter central Administration handle key issues.

    The Town is only 14 square miles and about 3 miles across widest point.
    There are not any schools on other side of the Merritt and only 1 in
    Lordship.

    Do the political parties and Board of Education act in self interest
    or best interest of the children and community?

    Board of Ed future?:
    With Chuck Lindberg (more money for education)
    Joe Crudo (Norm-what do you want me to do?)
    Gavin
    Mr. Kennedy
    Ms. Collier (sue’s sis)

    Irene = Superintenent
    Ben = C.O.O.

    This issue is not intelligence or ability.
    It is self interest (enlightened or not?); priorities; political realities?

    – Q?

    How many Mayors / Town Managers / Town Attorneys / Dept Heads /
    Town Councils / Staffs does it take to screw in a light bulb?

    How many superintendents / Assistants / Staff / Principles / Assistants
    / Teachers / Staffs does it take to screw in a light bulb?

    Answer pending editting

  13. 13 jezebel282

    George,

    Your principles may me admirable, but your reference to principals sucks.

  14. 14 1george1

    The F.A.C. does find some useful information:

    There is over $ 88 million in Stratford Cash Accounts.

    There is over $ 65 million in Stratford Capital improvement accounts.
    This is money bonded at 3.75 % – 5 % and earning .75 % interest.
    Most of the rest of the cash is earning . 25 % interest.

    After leaving the F.A.C. and a pop in to the Ethics Meeting monday,
    I got to the B.o.E.Meeting as it ended.
    At each I handed extra print up I prepped for OSNA – Harkins.
    Gavin was kind enough to answer a question that I believed they
    bond $ 10 – $ 15 million a year, with $ 65 million in cash accounts

    (Gavin was on Building needs.
    He knew project not done for 500 / 1000 Days as of October
    365 1/4 days = 1 year
    Miron Mayor 1461 days)

    Gavin said normal bonding is $ 10 – $ 12 million annually.
    Gavin agreed we could conceivably not bond for 5 – 6 years,
    saving maybe 2 – 2 1/2 Mils in new interest.

    Realistically some stuff needs Bonding to be able to get 2 – 3 times
    the matching funds … but you get the point …

    (Imagine if I had Sudd’s MBA and Gavin’s knowledge ….. whew =
    compliment to them …. attaboy to me …)

    Hey sudds …. please post something usefull:

    We spend $ 13.5 million of the cash @ .75 %, instead of Bonding at
    (what is current rate?) arbitrary 3.75 % ?

    Would that translate to $ 405,000 not lost in interest difference
    AND 3 MILS saved in this year’s BUDGET?

    > NOTE MIL is $ 4.5 million
    ergo
    $13.5 million is 3 MILS

  15. 15 jezebel282

    2013,

    “Taxes cannot be raised – and wherever the cuts have to come – they must come.”

    You are correct. Again. Cuts must come. But they can be done in some less painful ways. The two deputy chiefs, for instance, already get a nice pension from Waterbury and Columbia SC and do little if anything for Stratford. It would be weeks before anyone would notice they are missing.

    Overtime is another expense that must be cut. That has grown into an entitlement rather than a necessity. Expanding the work week to 40 hours might be another approach, rather than the 37.5 hours it currently is. And then there is attrition…

  16. 16 mayor2013

    Jez,

    Expanding the work week to 40 hours might be another approach, rather than the 37.5 hours it currently is. And then there is attrition…

    I was thinking along the lines of cutting back on the work week – like 4 days a week and the salary adjusted downward accordingly. It can be done and still have the departments working 5 days – with less staff – the department heads and managers have to come up with a plan. It will be pitiful if the taxes are raised.

  17. 17 jezebel282

    2013,

    “I was thinking along the lines of cutting back on the work week”

    Well, we are close. Right now we are paying for 40 hours but getting 37.5. I was thinking along increased productivity.

  18. 18 phineast

    Apparently Miron left the Town with a large deficit-he spent money he did not have permission to spend. He left the town is shambles and we the taxpayers are going to bear the burden–and true to his fatal disease of RCI(rectal Cranial Inversion) he will write letter to the papers telling everyone it was not his fault it is the new administration’s doing. As a citizen in this town I feel that because he violated our Charter by his manipulation of funds and over spending that we have the right through our council to sue him for misuse of public funds. It is time that a final statement be made to this jerk and anyone else that drinks from his cesspool that this type of behavior will not be tolerated. He thinks he is invincible-but he is not. No one is.
    The BOE is gong to be particularly challenging-I can hear the threats already to crank up the parents….it is all bs. The BOE needs a serious reality check. Before they make their annual threats of closing schools if they don’t get their money they damn well bet cut all the extra curricular activity costs out, and the salary heavy top heavy weight on the administration side-before they even consider their annual mantra threat of school closings. If they need to save a few million bucks then they better find a way to do just that without all the usual bs.

    The teacher’s union is what frustrates me most-and their lack of flexibility. Every other union in town has forgone raises and had to do medical givebacks- If they don’t want to cooperate and work in the best interest of the town maybe every member of that union should be pink slipped. It is legal, I am told-though I have to still triple check it. If it is legal-there is your solution. Pink slips and then determine who if any you will chose to rehire and at what rate….it has the potential to level the playing field, change the salary steps and bene plan….AND bring down the education costs by at least 1/3.
    Don’t get me wrong here -I think teachers work hard for the 6 1/2 months that they work. I do believe that the salaries and bene plan are totally out of whack with reality.
    Stratford is not the only community facing this problem-we just happen to be THE Town that has to correct 4 years worth of horrific mismanagement of town funds and the taxpayers and voters are going to be really upset if there is any substantial increase in the tax bill this year as no one in the private sector is getting raises and many have lost their jobs and are barely getting by–I believe the teacher’s union and it’s membership will be cutting their noses off to spite their faces if they chose not to work cooperatively with the administration and the town side to rapidly rectify this situation.
    Time will tell. Let the show begin………………

  19. 19 1george1

    I e-mailed adam and john about meeting promise last month.

    Adam e-mailed back they are preoccupied with the Budget
    and asked if next friday is ok to meet?

    I repliy e-mailed they could save 3 to 3 Mils a yeay by increased
    interest on $ 85 million in misc cash accounts all getting .25 %
    interst, except the .75 % interest on the $ 65 million unspent
    bonded capital improvement account

    Gavin + I spoke Monday and I asked if they could save bonding
    for several years with $ 65 million in the Capital improvement
    and Gavin acknowledge they normally bond $ 10 – $ 12 million.

    Back in Aug / Sept / October Building needs there was work bonded
    at 3 + % maybe 5 % and not done for 250 / 500 / 1000 days – virtually
    Miron’s entire term.

    Miron was correct in today’s Stratford Star in that most spending
    issues on Town and BoE are Republican.
    However he could have spend money instead of keep bonding.

    ================ YO ADAM ==== $ 9 MILLION unbonded = 2 Mils

    In 2008 – 2009 the FAC found very low interest rates in the General
    Fund as well and well over $ 120 million (at times) in the General Fund

    Gaining ab extra 3 % interest on $ 200 million or an average of $ 150
    million, gains $ 4.5 million on money we are already losing money on.

    Save 2 mils by not bonding $ 9 million
    Gain 1 mil by better interest $ 4.5 Million

    OK – it is not quite that easy, yet anybody else have any legit ideas?

    Jeze?
    Sudds?
    Phin?
    Mayor 2013
    Chris?
    Mike R?
    Kane?
    Cyclops?
    Gavin?
    Jon?
    Matt?
    Ben?
    Florek?
    Fahan?
    Tom?
    Muffy?
    FOS?
    Edward Devere?
    Phyllis? *
    Star? *
    * = not obnoxious and almost always nice.

  20. 20 jezebel282

    Phin,

    “and true to his fatal disease of RCI(rectal Cranial Inversion) he will write letter to the papers telling everyone it was not his fault it is the new administration’s doing.”

    I saw that letter. ROTFLMAO! For some reason, he didn’t mention that he and the council raise our taxes by a whopping 25.74% in the first three years. And even then we only had “surpluses” of <1%. He always seems to write these bits of insanity to the Star, never the Post.

    "The teacher’s union is what frustrates me most-and their lack of flexibility."

    Last year the teacher's union had a choice of foregoing their full raise or having 10 of their most junior colleagues let go. Bye bye you 10 young teachers. Pretty flexible, huh?

  21. 21 phineast

    Jez you forget that there was NEVER an budget surplus, the reason being that until the pension is funded and the bond debt repaid there is no legitimate right to call anything a surplus.

    The teacher’s union is getting very close to to a total annihilation. No wants wants to have anyone lose their protections of being fired due to age or because a supervisor has a personal dislike for you…BUT…the population of people who do not utilize the system and can clearly see abuses by the BOE Administration/union are fed up. Stratford has more people in town without kids in the system than with. If it comes down to kids having to be in a slightly more crowded class or do with one less administrator, or walk a little farther or even (Heaven forbid) have their parents pony up for the total cost of football, baseball or soccer, marching band etc. then oh well. There are MANY things in the BOE budget that are “lovely” to have but are not mandated nor are they necessary to provide a true education if it comes down to it.
    The seniors feel there should be a mass firing and restructuring to get costs under control. I am beginning to agree with them. For the seniors it is a choice of paying higher taxes (most due to educational costs) and having to sell their homes because they can no longer afford to stay. That is not right. there has to be a balance and there has to be a way to achieve it without a massive blood loss to the taxpayers.
    The BOE is the biggest hemorrhage in the town. Time to apply the tournoquet and tie it tightly.

  22. 22 jezebel282

    Phin,

    “Jez you forget that there was NEVER an budget surplus,”

    That was me being kind to Miron (best I can do). Anyone that issues a press release about a 0.12% surplus is crazy Miron.

    “The seniors feel there should be a mass firing and restructuring to get costs under control. I am beginning to agree with them.”

    I’d really rather not see this turned into a Seniors v Parents war…again. Seniors have already received their education for free. Parents want everything they can possibly get for their children. Both sides are way too emotional to listen to reason.

    Should principals and assistant principals be paid $100,000+ EACH for administering staff where everybody holds at least a bachelor’s degree and most hold a master’s degree? How hard can it be?

  23. 23 mikereynolds

    I am extremely conflicted on this issue.

    While on the one hand I agree there must absolutely be cuts to the education budget I am reluctant to just say cut all the highly paid administrators and asst principals. (George, notice spelled in principal not principle?)

    As a parent with kids in the school system, including one who benefits from extra services, I can’t in good conscience call for people’s jobs to be cut when those same people have helped my son so much in the last 7 years.

    For instance, the principal and asst principal at my son’s school have been fantastic in helping us and my son. He was actually transfered from him home school to another school because his home school was woefully inadequate in helping to educate my special needs son. How can I say cut the asst principal position out at every school? It might be the right thing to do but I can’t in good conscience advocate for it.

    As a side note, many of the para-professionals and social workers who have done such a great job with my son have actually left for other towns because the pay and working conditions were better.

    In the end the budget needs to be cut. Tough choices will have to be made. I’m glad I’m not the one who has to make them. Unfortunately my family will probably bear the brunt of those cuts.

  24. 24 jezebel282

    Mike,

    “Unfortunately my family will probably bear the brunt of those cuts.”

    One thing we know for sure is that Republicans are really, really good at eviscerating social programs.

  25. 25 mikereynolds

    Jez,

    At the local level I don’t think being a Democrat or Republican makes a bit of difference. As we’ve seen from our previous administration fiscal responsibility was driven by a desire to be re-elected rather than solid budget and accounting practices.

  26. 26 jezebel282

    Mike,

    Sorry, that was spillover from the healthcare debate in the other article.

  27. 27 cstratct

    Jezebel, are you suggesting that it was only the union at fault regarding the loss of the jobs?

    I notice that the starting pay grade for principals is over $100K per year, while the starting pay grade for a teacher with a Master’s Degree $49,292.

    Median HHold income in the US (est. 2008) was $52,175. Median HHold Income in Stratford (1999 dollars) was $53,494.

    DIRECTOR OF TECHNOLOGY – (2008) $124,244 – (2009) $132,790 – 6.88% increase

    MEDIA COORDINATOR – (2008) $101,056 – (2009) $108,835 – 7.70% increase

    SUPERINTENDENT & ASST SUPERINTENDENT – (2008) $315,829 – (2009) $325,284 – 3.0% increase

    By the way, love how they don’t break out the salaries for each position. I can understand combining teacher’s salaries by discipline/grade/level since they are performing basically the same functions. But why are the COO / PERSONNEL DIR / ACCT MNG / GRANTS all included on one line item. If one person is doing all those jobs then it makes sense, but the actual staff line shows 3.85 staff. I realize they are listed by “account,” but not having the salaries for each position clearly identified is somewhat misleading.

    By the way those 3.85 positions average out to $98,807 per position. I’m pretty sure the salary isn’t evenly distributed, but I’m certain you get the point.

    Putting the loss of the teachers on the union’s back is unfair given the what was going on elsewhere. I didn’t see Dr. Cornish taking the lead on foregoing a raise. Lead by example, shouldn’t that be the way?

  28. 28 1george1

    Mike,

    I will note spelling, but since I admit to being imperfect, I am likely to repeat.
    All of us have some words that we constantly misspell.
    My favorite is thier and not their.
    MS WORD has a red underline for obvious misspellings
    The blog lacks spell check.
    But Mike – you caught my misspelled word – I am sooooo proud of you.
    And good post.
    Well thought out and articulated.

    – Subject change

    There are people who want to claim senior vs. children.
    The ISSUE is PRIORITIES of SPENDING.

    – Subject change

    There is a HUGE SLUSH FUND in over taxation.

    1) Of the approx $ 180 million Budget, about $ 50 – 60 million
    comes from State – Federal Grants and $ 120 – $ 130 million from you.

    2) According to the Town Council Financial Advisory Commission,
    where Thomas, Art, Ed, & Tom have done legitimately good job on
    most things and political on a couple others –
    Late Jan – early Feb and Late July – Early August
    GENERAL FUND CASH can reach $ 120 million – beyond FDIC

    Stratford GENERAL FUND never dips below the mid $ 40 million range
    whereas Stamford with a much larger Budget can get into the TEENS
    at the lowest point.

    3) LAST MONDAY we were handed report about CASH ACCOUNTS other
    than the GENERAL FUND total
    $ 91,787,162

    Part of those were escrow accounts / Bond / Police special+forfieture

    The MAIN TOTAL of LOOSE CASH – not in the GENERAL FUND
    $ 88,210,385

    $ 64,324,949 was UNSPENT CAPITAL IMPROVEMENT @ .75 % INTEREST

    $ 19,885,436 in the other 22 account @ .25 %

    I raised issue to Tom Malloy + Tom Angelo – later Gavin @ BOE +
    Harkins/Bauer last night

    1 – We did not have to bond $ 9 milllion a year for next 8 years
    to lower unspent capital improvements, because much work was
    BOND @ about 4 %, while getting . 75 % interest for work not done
    the entire time MIRON was MAYOR – over 1,000 days as of August 09,
    while other work was not done in 500 days.

    Yet we got flowers planted on O. T. and the GREEN got GRANITE.

    2. Just as the FAC recommended higher interest on General Fund
    money, we could do better with this cash account money.

    ===============

    There are actually more than one Budget.

    One Budget is for the GENERAL FUND about $ 178 million

    A Second BUDGET is in the CAFR Consolidates A? Financial Report
    about $ 207 million, which is the $ 19,885,436 in the other 22 accounts

    A third site for tons of money is the PENSION PORTFOLIO with $ 92 million
    after $ 7.375 million came from General Fund for Pension Shortfall Deposit.
    – I have not seen the Actuary Report.
    – However it is likely my 8/09 projection of $ 245 million is correct
    – This means we are $ 153 underfunded or about 38 % funded
    – Without the $ 7.375 million we were 34 % fully funded.
    – By the end of 2011, the Tax payers will have contributed $ 200 million
    in about 14 years to a little over 600 people in defined benefit
    – Porjected 60 year cost may approach – exceed $ 1 billion

    There may be another CASH SITE for WPA – Water Pollution Authority,
    which the FAC has yet to question.
    I know it exceeded $ 50 million and maybe $ 70 million.
    That $ 225 sewer use tax is a hidden assetment on over 22,000 sites of
    businesses and homes – $ 100 x 22,000 = 2,200,000 x 2 1/4 = $ 4,950,000

    In 1998 it was $ 125

    That is an interesting budget I would like to seem because there was
    a large amount of State / Federal Grants and credits / swaps.

  29. 29 1george1

    Maybe if principals were more principled, my referrences and spelling
    might suck less? 8)

    I enjoyed that jeze had a spill over from a different.
    I can relate, believe it or not? 😉

  30. 30 jezebel282

    Cstrat,

    “Jezebel, are you suggesting that it was only the union at fault regarding the loss of the jobs?”

    No.

    “I notice that the starting pay grade for principals is over $100K per year, while the starting pay grade for a teacher with a Master’s Degree $49,292.”

    Unfortunately there aren’t many starting teachers with Master’s degrees since they are always laid off first.

    “Putting the loss of the teachers on the union’s back is unfair given the what was going on elsewhere.”

    While this is true, there is not a whole lot of cooperation on either side as far as compensation. Not a single principal is willing to take a zero in any year. If that doesn’t happen, how can you expect teachers to do it?

    Reminder: The maximum allowable Unemployment Benefit in Connecticut is $516/week…gross. (It is taxable income). The DOL allows an extra $15/week for each dependent child. That goes for administrators too.

  31. 31 1george1

    I notice not many people post hard numbers and facts, the way I do.

    These come directly amd indirectly from handouts from the finance
    department to Committees and Commissions, and FOI requests.

    I met often with a certain person years ago when Dom first ran for Mayor.
    I was less than pleased when much of Dom’s platform were plagarized from
    my positions, yet the Mirons / Burturlas also did so, but perverted them.

    I made a conscious decision to keep feed info indirectly to Dom, who used
    some of it in the Debates.
    However, I did the grunt work and I understood nuances, whereas Dom
    was tutored.
    I felt I would have a far better understanding than Dom, on those issues.

    Please review the Soundview Communications debates

    I also was the key person educating people on pension and graft issues,
    which Miron and Harkins addressed in passing.
    The parties create many tertiary issues to enflame people like Chris 😉
    Shakespeare was a primary issue.
    I never believed the Hanney deal was real – but Chris is right that it
    had a chance of being pulled off…. the IS Stratford!

    I appreciate that Phin identifies with the pension issue as a major problem
    and concerns about BoE – Union intransigence – obduration, which stems
    from vested interests in RTC + DTC – Town Attorneys – Managers

  32. 32 jezebel282

    George,

    “I notice not many people post hard numbers and facts, the way I do.”

    Not many people post anything the way you do.

    Personally, unless and until a forensic audit is conducted, I wouldn’t believe any numbers I got from anyone in this Town.

  33. 33 mayor2013

    Did you know that for the first time EVER the federal, state and municipal positions have outpaced the salaries of the private sector. A benchmark position for a middle class employee revealed a $7,000 difference between the two. Yes, the federal, state and municipal positions are now paid higher – and they did not even consider the benefit package of each group. As the position rises in responsibility the difference is even greater! So if our management positions such as department heads, managers, chief of staff are evaluated with the private sector there may be room for some reductions. I know that the municipal clerical end is way over compared with the private sector and the BOE clerical, and I believe that Stratford pays its clerical and secretarial staff more than any other CT municipality. I think a job study needs to be performed by the recently hired HR Director to confirm this information and enter into serious negotiations with the employees to reduce their salaries accordingly!

    Secondly, it is my understanding that there is a Bonus Account at the BOE. And, the Supt. yearly allots bonus money for work performance to her administrative staff such as Ben Branyan, Pat Naylor etc. Municipal bonuses – give me a break! In the economic climate – UNBELIEVEABLE! How much money has been distributed and to which employees? Someone needs to expose this. Irene has gotten away with murder. During the Miron administration she was portrayed as the town’s savior. Got herself a sweet-heart retirement package and oh by the way, it includes a $50,000 bonus. Maybe this investigation can be conducted by the mayor’s chief of staff????

    Thirdly, with all these problems, who is preparing the budget? We still do not have a finance director. I hope I’m not going to be told it is Susan Collier. I can’t believe the Mayor and his staff could be so stupid. Collier is the right arm to Miron. They are very close personal friends – how could you be so stupid!

  34. 34 mayor2013

    Phin,
    I agreee with you completely – if it is legal, hand out pink slips to the teachers and begin a recruitment for their replacements. And, Phin, in 2013 you are my man!

  35. 35 sudds

    “Did you know that for the first time EVER the federal, state and municipal positions have outpaced the salaries of the private sector.”

    …maybe Obama can borrow Bush’s “Mission Accomplished” banner!!! 😛

  36. 36 mayor2013

    I just visited the town’s website – come on you guys – fix that cut up picture of the mayor already. He has been in office for almost 4 months. Isn’t that a task the Chief of staff could easily handle. It is so embarassing to Stratford!

  37. 37 sudds

    Hahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahaha….

    I just visited the town’s website too, and the following can be found smack dap on the middle of the homepage…

    “Stratford is a beautiful town accentuated by its parks, ponds, lakes, rivers, woods, shoreline, walking trails, wonderful restaurants, places to stay, and animated by its caring, conscientious residents and businesses!”

    Oh yeah… this text is right underneath a photo that contains what appears to be a giant oil storage tank in the back!!!

    Allow me to reiterate…

    Hahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahaha!!!!!

  38. 38 jezebel282

    Sudds,

    “…maybe Obama can borrow Bush’s “Mission Accomplished” banner!!!”

    That’s because everyone in the private sector has been laid off because of Bush.

  39. 39 jezebel282

    2013,

    “Thirdly, with all these problems, who is preparing the budget? We still do not have a finance director. I hope I’m not going to be told it is Susan Collier. I can’t believe the Mayor and his staff could be so stupid. Collier is the right arm to Miron. They are very close personal friends – how could you be so stupid!”

    I am told there is an “acting” Finance Director, but I did not get a name.

  40. 40 jezebel282

    Update:

    U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics
    State Connecticut
    Population (2008 annual average) 2,727,000
    Population (2009 annual average) 2,748,000
    Civilian labor force (2008 annual average) 1,870,000
    Civilian labor force (2009 annual average) 1,890,000
    Employed (2008 annual average) 1,766,000
    Employed (2009 annual average) 1,734,000
    Unemployed (2008 annual average) 104,000
    Unemployed (2009 annual average) 156,000
    Unemployment rate (2008 annual average) 5.6%
    Unemployment rate (2009 annual average) 8.2%

    December (last published) 8.8%

    Regional and State Employment and Unemployment: January 2010 is scheduled to be issued on Wednesday, March 10, at 10:00 A.M. Eastern Time.

  41. 41 jezebel282

    More update:

    The mayor of San Francisco just issued layoff notices to 15,000 (yes, fifteen thousand) city workers. The plan is to hire them back as part time employees (with Medical benefits).

  42. 42 jezebel282

    2013,

    “I hope I’m not going to be told it is Susan Collier.”

    Yes. Yes you are going to be told that. I have just confirmed that Sue Collier has been appointed by John Harkins as Acting Finance Director.

  43. 43 phineast

    2013, I never said TO lay them off, I said there has been discussion of it in the senior population in the community and if the BOE union doesn’t work to hold taxes down then I am starting to agree with them. The ball is in the BOE union’s court. Personally, my preference is to get rid of the unfunded mandates, but that is not ever going to be a reality any more than the equitable distribution of ECS funds. I don’t want anyone to lose their job or the kids to suffer, but if concessions aren’t going to happen maybe there is some merit to the idea of a mass lay off-everyone can be rehired-but the admin salaries would be substantially less and all salaries would be based on a 12 month work calendar with a ceiling on vacation time-no more summers off. I have always been of the school of thought that if teachers are going to teach to the “tests” to boost the district scores it should be during the summer, and the same for the “professional development” days-during the summer. I’m sure someone is going to hammer me about how hard the teachers work and they need the summers off-but you know what? Doctors work hard, Cops work hard, Steel workers work hard, Electricians work hard etc…and they don’t get 1/3 of the year off but at a full year salary. We no longer have the need for the kids to have summers off because at least in this area they certainly aren’t out working on the farm which is why the summers were free….maybe in the revamping of things-and make no mistake- things are going to be revamped in the near future-maybe a creative genius will come up with a way to hold the financial line, maintain the staffing and giving the kids a top quality education. I certainly hope so-if not, let the cookie crumble and fall where it may.
    The town side of the budget is reasonable-the unions gave back-they deserve job stability for their loyalty to the people of the town and their willingness to make a personal sacrifice for the greater good-these people work hard and MOST don’t take advantage(there is a rotten apple in every basket…that should be thrown into the compost heap)and for that we should respect them. The town side of the budget services all 50 thousand+ residents in the community and uses slightly less than half the budget-by comparison the BOE services approximately 7 thousand and uses slightly more than half the budget(I am including all the building needs and ground maintenance and snow removal all of which come out of the town side of the budget) .

    Jez and Chris- this is NOT a democrat thing or a republican thing that has occurred-it is a PEOPLE thing. It shows the good the bad and the ugly side of the situations and the nature of people.
    Let us all hope that all those degrees in the BOE put an intelligent plan in place that is fair to everyone. Now that would be sheer genius.

  44. 44 jezebel282

    Phin,

    Just to be accurate, the BOE Budget is not really over half the whole Town budget:

    Last years budget:

    From State * $22,887,705 25.78%
    By Local Taxes $65,884,942 74.22%

    http://stratfordk12.org/images/customer-files/BoardofEducation/FY0910AdoptedBudget.pdf

    Also “the BOE services approximately 7 thousand and uses slightly more than half the budget” is not quite accurate either. It is currently more like approximately 8,000 (who can afford private/parochial schools anymore?) and those are not tax payers. Those are children. If it makes you feel any better, ask their nearly 16,000 parents or, if you want, you can throw in grandparents and aunts/uncles too.

  45. 45 jezebel282

    Phin,

    “Let us all hope that all those degrees in the BOE put an intelligent plan in place that is fair to everyone. Now that would be sheer genius.”

    You dreamer, you.

  46. 46 nomoreyears

    Phin my friend,

    I’m not going to argue with you and I’m not going to slam you. Teachers are under attack in this nation and they’re getting it from both sides. Frankly, I am tired of it.

    Just to let all of you know in case you didn’t there was a recent contract negotiation between the town and SEA. The SEA took a zero for the next school year and a freeze in step. That’s pretty significant.

    And, Phin, If I had to work 2,080/hr work year, no one could afford me at my rate;-) What I am paid is fair for what I do and put in.

    Have a great weekend and get out and enjoy the weather.

    nomore

  47. 47 jezebel282

    Nomore,

    “And, Phin, If I had to work 2,080/hr work year, no one could afford me at my rate;-)”

    Huh?

    Now I have to ask. What is it that you do and do Stratford residents get a discount?

  48. 48 cstratct

    Jezebel,

    That amount from the state is included in both the town and BOE budgets. The state education cost sharing is listed as revenue. So if it is subtracted from the BOE line item in the town budget it has to be taken out of the revenue summary for the town as well.

    Total town revenue – $176,829,578 – $22,887,705 = $153,941,873

    Education expenses – $88,772,647 – $22,887,705 = $65,884,942

    % of total town budget – 42.8%

    So yes, it’s less than 50% if you run the numbers this way, although that is not how the town budget is prepared.

    http://www.townofstratford.com/Upload/147/16273/18716/07%20FY10%20Annual%20Budget%20Summary.pdf

  49. 49 phineast

    Jez and Chris- now add in from the municipal side the ground maintenance costs, snow removal costs, building maintenance costs —brings it up over 50% now go a step further–the school resource officers…and add…
    I know the teachers work hard, believe me I know. But they are also very very well compensated and have the most comprehensive medical and dental this municipality offers, not to mention a stellar vacation and sick time package and never have to work a holiday. As much as we want it all and may feel we deserve it all, if you work for the town, the taxpayers can not, I repeat can not afford it all.
    no more- if in fact the SEA took a freeze as you stated then I applaud them for stepping up to the plate in a time of need. We have been generous for as long as we could and when times get better we may be able to afford to be generous again.
    You know 25 years ago teachers and municipal workers were notoriously low paid but they had stable jobs and a fair benefit package as a trade for the low pay rates. I want all municipal/BOE employees to have a living wage that is fair and a fair benefit package in exchange for job security and a job well done. I think people are beginning to realize that having a job is important-and while you may be over qualified and under paid, at least it is a job-and if times improve maybe their level of pay will too. Maybe we can work on the legislators to help get rid of some of the unfunded mandates that are bleeding the town….Getting rid of one or two would be helpful and a start….we need to get back to local control of policies and related issues. People have to be able to afford to stay in the community-if they can’t afford to stay you lose your tax base-we have had an exodus over the last 4 years and that trend needs to change.

  50. 50 phineast

    One more thing-
    No more- you enjoy the weekend too. I will be working part of it. 😦 But at least I’m working!

  51. 51 jezebel282

    Cstrat,

    “So yes, it’s less than 50% if you run the numbers this way, although that is not how the town budget is prepared.”

    Just looking for a little clarity here. It is also interesting that State funding that is not used by the BOE is returned to the Town not the State. That mostly explains Miron’s minuscule little “surpluses”.

  52. 52 jezebel282

    Phin,

    “now add in from the municipal side the ground maintenance costs, snow removal costs, building maintenance costs —brings it up over 50% now go a step further–the school resource officers”

    Kinda picky there. The buildings would have to be maintained by somebody. You may have a point in that it might be less expensive for the custodians to do more, but then they would have to buy equipment that the Town already owns. The buildings don’t just disappear when school is over. Like the Birdseye Complex or Center school.
    And let’s not forget that Miron didn’t extend himself to maintain the schools. The area in front of Town Hall was manicured while the grass grew knee high across the street at Stratford High.

    “the taxpayers can not, I repeat can not afford it all.”

    I essentially agree with you here. It is very difficult to work up a lot of sympathy for a highly paid position where you only show up for 10 months of the year, have every holiday known to man (I hear they are still working on Halloween though) and every benefit ever created. Professional development at full pay, tuition reimbursement, conferences, sick time, personal days and, of course, fully paid snow days and delayed openings. It goes a long way to explain why some people have never left the education system. There are employees that have been involved with education since they were 5 years old and showed up for the first day of kindergarten. They truly know nothing else.

  53. 53 1george1

    Today’s above post were very well prepared and discussed.

    Jeze was not only using points I made during my mayor runs, but also
    using many of the statistics I was quoting and from the Town + BoE.

    Additionally Jeze used Labor Department facts and figures.

    The Municipalities and Education costs are out of control and the
    workers would be fools not to take what they can get, with people
    throwing money at all of them.

    Unfortunately, I believe this is intentional counter intuitive way to
    destoy legitimate unionism, which is an international objective.

    Since when is a police captain or Lieutenant a union person?
    They are management and should be on salary.

    It would be soooooo much better if the private sector can be
    brought back to true parity with politican appointees, where
    the hidden costs of benefits DWAFT the salary differential where
    Public Sector is over the Private Sector.

    The REAL ENEMY?

    ROYAL TIES
    BIG MONEY
    BIG OIL
    WAR MACHINES
    DRUGS – ALCOHAL – TOBACCO
    LICENSED VICE

    The UNIONS have to realize they ran into a TRAP, take responsibility,
    and work with and for the people.

    I believe the UNION people have the patriotism to do it.
    They won’t like takin hits.
    But to keep good jobs, pay, and benefits they will have to be realistic.

  54. 54 1george1

    I just wanted to mention that my using town / boe / fac / etc – statistics
    was never proprietary, on my part.

    I was the only one using them in the Mayor debates.
    Well … Jimmy used them, but I was able to debunk many of them.

    Jimmy was able to pound John and Dom with his litany.
    However truth never constrained his posturing.
    > Dom is not a strong debater.
    > John is highly polished, intelligent, and capable, but Jim and I knew more
    about Town issue.
    > Fortunately for John, people hate the Mirons / Burturlas
    I hope John is who bloggers claim.
    However so far, I have the opposite view as usual suspects.

    It is good to seeing Jeze adding those to her postings to formulate opinions.

    Chris is very intelligent, especially in the ARTS, but I believe is niaive
    and quoting the talking heads and so called insiders …..
    Everything in D. C. is scripted, as is much of Stratford (my opinion)

    Mayor 2013 + Phin appear to be just outside the insiders.

    I praise all of the above for taking debates to a higher level, and I include
    Mike R who has major improved.

    They are somwhat similar to PCS, who DOES HER HOMEWORK.

    Sudds ……
    well sudds is sudds …..
    would rather wise crack than to try to solve problems ….

    I agree with each on some points, and disagree with others.
    It is good to see hones debate.

    this blog quality has improved…

  55. 55 phineast

    George- The information I shared was my opinion based on historical information-I may have rounded the number estimates but you and I both know that I was pretty much on target. The entire reason the BOE no longer handles the ground maintenance and snow removal stems back from the Yeoman years when the annual argument was going on between the Municipal side and the BOE side- the town needed new equipment and the BOE wanted more money-the town got the equipment only because they agreed to maintain the school properties which freed up BOE money…if that had not occurred the BOE would most definitely have to pony up for those costs as well. That is the history lesson for today. 🙂

    As far as being on the inside or the out side-I actually am on the Public’s side.

    John has a different way of achieving goals-he doesn’t cut throats or stab people in the back the let them bleed out on the front page. He is professional and has class. He also is smart enough to base his decisions on assessment and not a knee jerk reaction like miron did. He is in the throws of the learning curve that miron did everything in his power to undermine. miron had a 2 year learning curve(and there were people that knew what they were doing to guide him for the 1st 6 months that is absent kindness of miron wanting his friends to get unemployment) and spent the entire time in the throws of some sort of mania (power went to his head and had a major short circut).

    Jez- you are right the buildings don’t disappear after school is out….just think of all the money the BOE could have brought in by charging for field use and building use….they would have had money left over after paying to maintain the property etc…might have even been enough to save a program or two…or three.

  56. 56 1george1

    Phin

    BoE is about Jobs + budget.
    Town is about BUDGET approval + Town Attorney + Administration

    You are correct about the town doing BoE maintenance, like snow and lawns.

    Further the work bonded for school repairs and buildings gets done by P.W..
    is it is not put to bid.

    However, Phin, please take a look at BoE + Town Budgets and note
    1 – Healthcare Costs on BOTH
    2 – The COST of PENSIONS on the TOWN SIDE
    3 – The cost of BOND Payments on Capital Improvement, beyond Pension Bond

    EXPENDITURES
    Municipal Services …………….$ 58,995,395 …….. $ 58,181,431
    Debt Service/Capital ………… $ 11,692,867 …….. $ 11,347,867
    Pension Benefits……………… $ 18,527,634 …….. $ 18,527,634

    Education …………………….. $ 88,272,647 …….. $ 88,772,647

    TOTAL EXPENDITURES ……… $ 177,488,543 ……. $ 176,829,579

    Tom Moore’s FAC found this:

    Town of Stratford Summary of Cash Accounts

    $ 27,462,113 All cash accounts except Capital @ .25 %

    $ 64,324,949 Capital Improvement (Bonded) > Interest rate .75 %

    The CAFR showed there was $ 207 million budget,
    not the $ 176 – $ 177 million we see.
    Those include much of the Cash Accounts

    State matched funds for part of that Budget to build the WATER
    POLUTION TREATMENT PLANT.

    Yet $ 450 a year sewer assessment x 22,000 residences + businesses =
    $ 450 * 22 000 = $ 9,900,000

    HEY JEZE + PHIN + MAYOR 2013 + MIKE R + PCS + CHRIS how many years
    have you been paying Sewer Assessment Tax twice a year?

    REVENUE SUMMARY – SEWER USE (WPCA) FUND

    ……………………………………………………,FY 2010 ………FY 2010
    FY 2006 … FY 2007 … FY 2008 … FY 2009 … MAYOR ….. TOWN COUNCIL

    ORG OBJ ACCT DESCRIPTION ACTUAL ACTUAL ACTUAL BUDGET PROPOSED APPROVED
    SEWER USE

    38938 4061 Curr Res Sewer Use Fee 4,053,958 4,543,340 4,724,696 4,477,825 4,474,500 4,474,500

    38938 4062 Curr ResSewer Use – Int 41,947 41,368 45,953 24,000 24,000 24,000

    38938 4063 Curr Res Sewer Use – Lien 4,490 7,010 5,064 1,000 1,000 1,000

    38938 4064 Arr Res Sewer Use Fee 139,175 (430) (530) 186,000 247,267 247,267

    38938 4065 Arr Res Sewer Use – Int 38,463 35,465 37,785 40,000 53,176 53,176

    38938 4066 Arr Res Sewer Use Fee – Lien 16,436 19,074 18,706 22,000 22,000 22,000

    38938 4071 Curr Comm Sewer Use Fee 1,195,658 1,428,739 1,555,032 1,496,265 1,437,906 1,437,906

    38938 4072 Curr Comm Sewer Use-Int 9,631 5,822 6,069 3,000 3,000 3,000

    38938 4073 Curr Comm Sewer Use-Penalty 216 384 264 – – –

    38938 4074 Arr Comm Sewer Use Fee 10,819 – (900) 38,000 48,000 48,000

    38938 4075 Arr Comm Sewer Use Fee – Int 2,296 3,531 7,640 8,000 8,000 8,000

    38938 4076 Arr Comm Sewer Use Fee – Lien 559 998 962 1,082 1,082 1,082

    38938 4080 WPCA – Connection Charges – 133,296 1,104 5,000 5,000 5,000

    38938 4276 Revenue – Misc Grants – 50,147 – – – –

    38938 4649 Other – Misc Revenue 87,490 – 375 – – –

    38938 4202 2039 WPCA Upgrade Rev State 177,123 3,107,559 6,856,618 – – –

    38938 4802 2039 WPCA Upgrade Rev CWF Loan 728,599 7,700,669 22,339,814 18,148,519 825,000 825,000

    38938 4802 2038 Pump Stat Improv. CWF Loan – 1,115,406 38,612 – – –
    6,506,860 18,192,378 35,637,264 24,450,691 7,149,931 7,149,931

    INVESTMENT INCOME
    38938 4501 Investment Income 266,732 350,477 257,814 215,679 220,667 220,667
    266,732 350,477 257,814 215,679 220,667 220,667

    GRAND TOTALS 6,773,592 18,542,856 35,895,078 24,666,370 7,370,598 7,370,598

  57. 57 jezebel282

    Phin,

    “just think of all the money the BOE could have brought in by charging for field use and building use”

    Who are they going to charge? Their own teams? Sterling House? Open the cafeterias for weddings, confirmations and bar mitsvahs?

    But here is a better idea. The BOE has a program called STRIVE. One of the many services they provide is fulfillment (stuffing envelopes and mailing services). The service level is excellent and the work is efficient and fast. There is not a company is Stratford that does mailing that couldn’t benefit. And the cost is directed straight back to education (I’m guessing that it is tax deductible too).

    Contact: Ellen Michaels, Director of Pupil Personnel Services 203.385.4210

  58. 58 phineast

    Jez- Excellent tip on STRIVE, I’ll pass the word. But otherwise-Stratford PONY or what ever they now call themselves, Popwarner and all the other teams should have to pay fees directly to the the people that maintain the fields-right now that is the town and I believe that some may actually pay a stipend to the town. If it is a school sponsored team then yes, the students should have to make a contribution in some way. Not only do we have to maintain the fields and buildings but we have to insure them- It is expensive and unfortunately at the moment this is the stuff that is expendable. I don’t want anyone to lose out but I also think there are other things that are far more important-like actually educating the students.

  59. 59 jezebel282

    Phin,

    I am pretty sure I can’t agree with you about our own students paying for the use of school grounds for sports. Would that include gyms? Our teams already charge nominal ticket prices to support uniforms, equipment etc. It also allows the entire student body to coalesce and unite for a few evenings or weekends. As far as I know, there are currently no WII or Playstation teams with uniforms where all the kids sit at home and watch. JV sports gets the kids OUTSIDE.

    Besides, kids can only wash so many cars, you know.

  60. 60 jezebel282

    Phin,

    I almost forgot….

    GO DEVILS!

  61. 61 phineast

    We will have to agree to disagree-the only “sport” required to graduate is gym class. All the rest are expendable. I am no saying I want them expended…but…if push came to shove I would cut those before closing a school……..kids today are more obese than ever and have more sports opportunities than ever-so that argument doesn’t hold water with me. Sometimes you have to make the best of a bad situation and this upcoming situation is going to be really really bad. Sometimes parents actually have to step up and take responsibility for the “opportunities” offered to their kids-sometimes it means paying more other times it means paying less…It is not the government’s job to keep kids physically fit or active. It is up to the parents and the kids.
    This is a democracy-I work hard to create MY OWN opportunities-nothing has ever been handed to me EVER, and some how I still find ways to make my community a better place and help those in need-by choice not because it is automatically deducted from my pay check.–I want to continue to be able to choose where I help and how-I am of the school of thought that teaching people to be self sufficient rather than dependent is always the better choice. Hand a man a fish and it only lasts for a meal-teach him to fish and he will be able to eat and feed others for a lifetime… sometimes when you keep throwing money at things it never teaches anyone how to fish but it sure teaches some how to catch…

  62. 62 jezebel282

    Phin,

    “We will have to agree to disagree”

    Fair enough.

    Wanna talk about overtime instead?

  63. 63 phineast

    sure

  64. 64 jezebel282

    Phin,

    This is where my union friends start to sent me hate emails.

    Overtime is an example of why zero based budgeting is beneficial. Overtime has become an entitlement and not a necessity. It is used as a carrot by the Chiefs/Directors to ensure good behavior. To get the overtime allotment couldn’t be easier for the Chiefs. “We got this much last year, so let’s just figure another 3% or so.”

    If OT had to be justified each and every time it was authorized (not by a Chief) we would realize savings in the millions.

    Just one example. Exactly one drug search warrant has been issued by the SPD in the last two years, yet the sergeant in charge has received $30,000+ of overtime this year. What is wrong with this picture? This guy couldn’t find Waldo alone on a page.

  65. 65 phineast

    I agree that overtime is not a right but an opportunity. That being said, I’ll play devil’s advocate for a moment-Exactly who other than the department head would you put in charge of the authorization? Will that person be available at a moments notice? Will that person be outside of each department? And how exactly will things be handled that arise at a moment’s notice? Such as the fire that needs to be put out, or the fatal accident that needs to be cleared or the arrest that needs to be finished? I can’t imagine these people saying “hmmmm it’s 4:00 time is up I’m out of here” any more than I can see them staying late to complete there job with out payment.
    Notice public works isn’t part of this? The only emergencies that come up for them are storm related and honestly the mayor and police chief are usually on board when those people get ordered in–we no longer have a mayor that will have them painting lamp posts at 11pm….or flower planting at night.
    The Fire Dept and PD- do not have the same warning type flexibility.
    What is a logical and reasonable solution?–we don’t want anymore episodes of a Lo type person handing out pre-signed ot authorization pads, nor do we want our safety compromised by the timer going off. I don’t have one.

  66. 66 jezebel282

    Phin,

    “I’ll play devil’s advocate for a moment”

    Thanks for the easy questions. The most obvious choice would be the CAO who can be reached by phone, Blackberry (or Iphone) 24/7. That’s why he makes the big bucks (…OK, not that big).

    As for PW, I agree. The biggest abuser of PW overtime was Mayor Moron. McCarthy certainly didn’t object much.

    As for actual fires, real criminal activity or other bona fide emergencies, that’s what reports are for and actual overtime budgeted. Right now, nobody is watching the cash register.

    If the Chiefs and Directors can’t allocate resources to avoid overtime then we have a much more serious management problem.

  67. 67 jezebel282

    Also, although it is not tons of money, we need to look at the so-called “enterprise” funds like the RR parking lot and Short Beach Golf Course. Any monies left over from operations in these funds are swept directly into the General fund.

    Last year the Golf Course took in $386,000. The fee was increased to hire a Golf Pro. Really? A golf pro at Short Beach? For $35,000? At a 9 hole par 3? That is just ridiculous. Chris Barnaby (R-1st District) sits on this commission and should immediately eliminate this expense.

    The RR station parking is another area. The parking lot generated $445,262 in revenue. You have a part time clerk at $31,220 counting receipts and my own personal favorite, Kent Miller (a lawyer), being paid $23,063 to “supervise” her.

    Then you have $82,889 paid to an outside company to have someone sit in his car and once in a while, write parking tickets.

    But here is my favorite: you have $73,679 for debt collection, snow removal, grounds maintenance, graffiti removal and other miscellaneous services. (Debt collection? What does Kent Miller do again?)

    But then you have $78,000 transferred to the general fund for services provided to the Railroad Station operation by Town employees such as refuse
    collection, building maintenance and parking program administration.

    And we have astrophysicists scouring the heavens for black holes when we have so many right here in Stratford.

  68. 68 1george1

    Why not have Town Attorney work done in Town Hall on Town computers.

    Give Gail lotsa OT, AT WHATEVER THE RATES IS, instead of outsourcing @ $ 150 hour. Cut Town Attorney fees by 70 %.

    People in Town Hall aren’t getting Police / Fire O. T.

    What is the average work work on straight time for each including teachers,
    actual school hours, minus lunch + open periods?

  69. 69 1george1

    DISCLAIMER

    My opinions expressed here, in Town Council or Letters to Editor reflect
    my good faith beliefs, predicated on emperical experience / observations /
    documents / conversation-audiation and insight from some people who are professionals in:
    Health Care
    Pensions
    Financial Planning
    Brokers
    C. P. A.s – Accounting firms
    Investments
    Management
    Business Owners
    Supply Chain
    Business Development
    Professional Services
    Manufacturing – OEM
    Distributors
    Wholesalers
    Retailers
    Union Official
    Lawyers
    Press – writen & electronic media

    I have made a GOOD FAITH effort to factually provide documentation
    and have set forth unpopulation positions, from which I gain no profit,
    and from which the costs have been horrific.

  70. 70 1george1

    Props to the FAC for digging up the $ 90 + MILLION in CASH ACCOUNTS
    in addition to their work on the $ 40 to $ 130 MILLION RANGE in the
    GENERAL FUND BUDGET.

    There was an increase during Miron Administration in INTEREST RATE
    of RETURN in GENERAL FUND BANKING earning several hundred thousand
    a year more thanks to the work of TOM MOORE’S neighbor ART STENGEL;
    C.P.A. THOMAS ANGELO, and ED RODRIGUEZ.

    There is EXPECTED to be another similar increase in the
    .25 % BANK Interest Rate for over $ 25 MILLION and
    .75 % BANK Interest Rate for over $ 64 MILLION in Capital Improvement.

    TO TOM MOORE’S friends:
    Please take a look at the WPA BUDGET
    – SEWER TAX
    – STATE MATCHING GRANTS
    – ANNUAL COST vs. REVENUE
    – TAX Credits and swaps.

    While I believe the FAC was set up to cover up DISCERNIBLE WRONG
    DOING, and cost me $ 140 for Tire and alignment, I give credit where
    it is due.

    —-

    PROPS to the HARKINS ADMINISTRATION for refinancing $ 33 MILLION
    in BONDS with a $ 41 MILLION MAX at “apparently” no costs and no
    change in expirating “maturity dates.”
    I have questions.

    Combined the above can save over $ 1 million

    —–

    I suggested to Malloy Gavin, and will (next Monday) to Harkins about
    using up existing BONDED CAPITAL IMPROVEMENT monies, instead
    of incurring NEW DEBT, saving a few million a year in the BUDGET.

    —–

    I won’t say there were SLUSH FUNDS in the Miron Budget, however
    there are pails to collect drippings under the past Budgets.

  71. 71 jezebel282

    Update:

    Stratford budget proposal includes $1.6 million in cuts

    Written by John Kovach
    Friday, 12 March 2010 10:44

    Mayor John A. Harkins Friday proposed a reduction of $1.6 million in spending for fiscal 2010-11, with cuts in discretionary programs, services, and expenditures.

    Harkins submitted a budget that eliminates Fire Company 5 to save $800,000, eliminates 8.5 police positions by attrition to save $430,000, and cuts 11 positions from the Public Works Department to save $310,000.

    “The current economy is making it exceptionally hard for Stratford families to make ends meet,” Harkins said in a press release. “In crafting this budget, it was my duty as mayor to reduce discretionary expenditures wherever it was responsible to do so. Because much of the town’s nearly $150 million budget is contractually obligated, I was forced to make some difficult choices including staff reductions, furloughs, shutting down a fire engine company, and reductions in our Health and Community Services departments.”

    Adam Bauer, chief of staff for Harkins, said Engine 5 is one of the companies based at Fire Headquarters on Main Street. That staff would be absorbed into other companies to reduce callback, overtime incurred when off-duty firefighters are summoned back to work during an incident.

    Stratford would end its membership in the Connecticut Conference of Municipalities, saving $33,000, and Harkins would not attend the U.S. Conference of Mayors, saving $3,500.

    A $41,000 reduction is proposed in recreation, $30,300 in Health and Community Services, and $15,000 through a non-union furlough.

    “While our overall budget picture is challenging, I am proud that my administration has proposed a budget that does not add to the scope or size of government,” Harkins said. “While we will be forced to ‘do less with less’, we cannot afford the alternative.”

    Existing contractual obligations and rising structural costs will lead to an overall increase of 4.37%, with a mill rate increase of 2.8 mills, according to the mayor’s office.

    These costs, including pension, health care, and workers compensation, coupled with a $57.5 million decline in the grand list due to revaluation, comprise the entirety of the proposed $3.9 million increase in municipal expenditures. The average property tax bill will increase by $519 under the revised mill rate of 33.16.

    “The reality is that employee costs have begun to outstrip the taxpayers’ ability to pay,” Harkins said. “In spite of an overall reduction of town staff, non-education expenditures must rise due to contractual obligations and benefit costs negotiated over many years. I am committed through this year’s collective bargaining process, as well as in subsequent years, to work with employee unions to bring these contracts in line with what our tax base can support. However because negotiations are ongoing, it would be irresponsible to assume a ‘wish list’ of reforms that have not yet been agreed to by the bargaining units. As such, my budget is honest in reflecting the contracts that are currently in effect.”

    Contracts will all six municipal unions are up for renewal this year.

    Harkins has also proposed an increase of $3.8 million to Stratford Public Schools, $1.5 million less than the Board of Education’s approved request.

    “I am cognizant of the fact that 85% of the Board of Education’s $5.3 million requested increase is designated to cope with a 62% increase in employee health care costs that are contractually obligated,” Harkins said. “However, I cannot agree to a 6.06% increase in the Board of Education’s budget in the face of sharply declining revenues.”

  72. 72 mikereynolds

    Ouch.

  73. 73 mayor2013

    Bravo Mr. Mayor. You have done your best and hit upon some areas that definitely need adjustment. However, a $519 tax increase is something most of us cannot afford. The town council will now have to decrease it even more. You did good John.

  74. 74 mayor2013

    You know I’m thinking about this. If our propertly evaluations went down and the mill rate increase is +2.8 how come it is equalling a $519 increase. Did someone forget about the fact that the mill rate is suppose to decrease after a property revaluation – it appears that ours is going up. I think the (acting) Finance Director made a mistake????? I think you better take a second look at this …. folks!

  75. 75 mikereynolds

    If the revaluation reveals that home values went down, thus reducing the grand list, wouldn’t the mill rate go up?

  76. 76 jezebel282

    I would suggest that the umm, discussion, is only beginning. Hopefully, Mr Bauer, who seems unable to keep his name out of the paper, will see to it that the details of the proposed budget are placed online so that there can be an intelligent discussion.

  77. 77 mayor2013

    MikeReynolds,

    I am so confused – I think we need more information. But whatever, $519 is way too much and cannot be sustained by the blue collar folks of our community.
    I cannot ever recall such a huge hike. I wish they would get some competent finance people to review this.

  78. 78 sudds

    20-to-1 says the budget passes through the Council without a single change!!!

  79. 79 jezebel282

    Sudds,

    You may be correct. We need to examine some of the details, but if there are still two deputy chiefs in the new budget at nearly $200,000 there are going to be some serious objections.

  80. 80 phineast

    The one thing the Administration needs to realize is you don’t trim a tree by it’s roots. We need the people that are at the bottom of the pay scale that do the real work. What we don’t need is a gazillion supervisors in each department. From the article Jez posted-we will lose 8.5 police officers(since when do we have a part time cop??-justin doesn’t count because he doesn’t show up enough or do a real job). We need the beat cops. What we don’t need is a deputy chief-we do need a chief that does his job. Getting rid of that position alone is a cost savings of $82k, get rid of justin that is another savings-salary $45k range and ot created by him not performing a savings of $85k additional. Right here is a savings of $200k. Fire Dept-again you need to eliminate the multitude of administration there(they have more than the pd, why is that?)–just in admin reduction savings you would be able to keep the fire house open-but if you decided to close it it would be an additional savings. You can eliminate the EMS chief and consolidate under the fire department-since there is over lap there anyway. The PW dept is the one that seems to be whacked the hardest with regard to position loss-AGAIN, you can cut 4, yes 4 supervisors(yup that would be saving close to the total amount that is being cut-and not touch a service) positions and have the foremen report to the department head directly and we would at least have the workers that do the real work. These are the people we need-what we don’t need are supervisors that are inept at time management and job site management. For the life of me I can’t understand how a manager can send a group of workers to a job site that is not properly analyzed/engineered for them to perform the task and then be upset that the time wasn’t properly utilized. We have seen it hundreds of times in town–like when miron had all the storm drains dug upon a street in the north end because he demanded it and it turned out to be the wrong road…..that cost the town about $500k.
    I can promise you that i will have a microscopic look at this budget, just like I do every year. Give me the budget, and I will give it the trimming from the top so it doesn’t erode the roots and topple.

  81. 81 jezebel282

    Phin,

    We will know a lot more when Mr. Bauer posts the proposed budget.

    But let’s be careful. All we know is what John Kovach wrote so far. The article says that the PD will be reduced by attrition not by layoffs of patrolmen. With the exception of one, I hope.

    Also, no firehouse is going to close. Administration is being reorganized to reduce call backs and OT according to Kovach.

    I can’t imagine laying off 11 PW workers when they have been so chronically understaffed for so long.

    We shall see.

  82. 82 genericscreename

    et al

    I have just read the entire list of posts relative to the budget and related ideas and perceptions. I have but one comment…………….

    Has anyone realized that each of the last 4 adopted town budgets were that which were prepared by the town council and not the mayor?, although not being a Miron supporter, and an active supporter of Harkins, lets be fair here.

    Miron submitted four budgets and each time the councils revised and adopted their own plan. Prior councils should also be considered just as guilty as the mayor, since they were the ones who revised and approved the budgets.

  83. 83 genericscreename

    et al,

    Just another thought, considering the budget circumstances…………

    As it has come out that there was as much as 300K which would be spent observing the construction of the dog shelter, which was pointed out by others that the same job could have been done for 70K, I have discovered the same scenario applies to the construction of the EMS facility, although with another firm besides Savin-AFB.

    Just discovered that the building needs committee does not know this. I guess the credentials of the building needs committee need to be investigated, as the chair of the committee is in the business………could he be protecting some interest?

    I would urge George to start asking the right questions and also as why has nothing been done there

  84. 84 phineast

    Generic- regarding your post #82–that is not correct-the Council revised the budget that was written by the mayor-they passed the ordinance and the mayor ignored it and spent the money how he pleased, the only money he couldn’t use was the BOE money–but miron did one step better he spent money that didn’t exist in the budget and now the new mayor, the new council and the taxpayers have to deal with it.

    Jez- Any loses we must bear are better through attrition-without the golden escalators. Though I wouldn’t object in the least if on the 23rd we heard about a pd firing occurring. Having Justin remain is equal in cost to 2.5 officers–ahhh haaaaaa! that is where the half comes into play…..absolutely don’t want him on the pension either.
    I agree that the PW can’t afford to lose 11 actual workers-they have the most to do out of everyone, because of the lack of staffing and some other issues….

    it remains to be seen what will be done with the BOE…..

  85. 85 1george1

    generic:
    I would urge George to start asking the right questions and
    also as why has nothing been done there (EMS)

    Do you mean like my multiple past post about how

    1 – new Fire station supposed to cost under $ 2 million approaches
    $ 7 million?

    2 – Oft criticized) Chair Feehan asked how a Fire Station that could
    not be fixed was to be converted to an EMS SITE?

    3 – I am the ONLY blogger who gives Miron / Burturla credit for doing
    at least some things right? I AM NO FAN!

  86. 86 1george1

    Last year BoE Budget work shop were the BoE people +
    Town Councilors, Video cameraman, janitor, & I.

    This year only Santi was absent and Malloy was late,
    there were 3 custodians (not remember seeing TV camera)

    and 31 people in audience, besides me.

    The mayor was not present last year, nor this year, to be fair.

    Irene and Ben did an excellent power point presentation laying
    out economic realities and reasons for surprizes, especially in
    the Health Care costs.

    They have to find almost $ 1.45 m to cut.
    Contingency went from $ 24,000 to $ 300,000, which will scale
    back to maybe $ 50,000, leaving $ 1.2 million to cut.

  87. 87 jezebel282

    One concern that is not making sense and probably won’t until we see a line item proposal is this:

    “Harkins submitted a budget that eliminates Fire Company 5 to save $800,000”

    Didn’t we JUST spend $800,000+ to get two new fire engines? And now we eliminate enough Firefighters to idle one? And that effects response time how?

    Not that I don’t trust Fire Chief Cavanaugh, but I don’t trust Fire Chief Cavanaugh. He has lied before at our expense and I can see no reason why he would not lie again to ingratiate himself with Harkins. Just like he did with Miron.

  88. 88 1george1

    How will it affect O.T. and PENSIONS, by reducing Fire Dept jobs?

    PAYOLA?

    Were these people already hired and trained?
    Or were these mythical proposes additions that were cut?

  89. 89 gforrester

    Jez:

    Didn’t we JUST spend $800,000+ to get two new fire engines? And now we eliminate enough Firefighters to idle one? And that effects response time how?

    Jez as I understand the proposal it’s not eliminating any Fire Fighters but rather eliminating a truck at HQ (which I am sure will be swapped out for an older piece of equipment) which would create 3 “floater” positions. The problem that has historically plagued the FD budget is call back/overtime which runs between 1.5 and 1.9 million annually. Mayor Harkins proposal, again if I understand what I read in the newspaper, would reduce the OT by having 1 Lt and 2 Fire Fighters available per shift to back fill for vacations and people who call out sick.

    Example – 1 fire fighter in lordship is on vacation, 1 Lt at HQ is sick, 1 other is out in Huntington Road. Rather than call people in for Calback/OT the 3 floaters would fill the spots and guarantee staffing. right now we have 1 engine in LD/Huntington Rd/Oronoque and a rescue/ladder truck/ engine and special operations at HQ. What the proposal sounds like is making HQ a Ladder & Engine company and having the rescue in reserve to respond on Motor Vehicle Accidents.

    We have got to get costs under control and call back in the FD is an annual issue that has to be addressed.

  90. 90 gforrester

    genericscreename

    “Miron submitted four budgets and each time the councils revised and adopted their own plan. Prior councils should also be considered just as guilty as the mayor, since they were the ones who revised and approved the budgets.”

    So we are guilty of 3 surplus budgets and guilty that Miron overspend this years?

    The revenue numbers submitted by the Mayor were not altered one bit in the last budget and less than a 1% change in 2008-09, a budget which returned a surplus I might add, and the only numbers that were altered were expense line items in the current budget like staff reductions.

    As one of the council members that created the current budget we took the Mayor’s -0-% tax increase and reduce the expenses even further to generate a slight tax decrease. The simple fact is that the Former Mayor wiped out the OT budgets for PW for his improvement projects like the West Broad Green and Paradise Green so that he could get re-elected and spent money on “independant investigations” and legal fees like it was water. Once the Council hands the budget to the Administration they have no authority to direct how the Mayor spends it except not to ratify the year end budget transfers which has little or no meaning other than to express displeasure with the way the fudns were expended.

  91. 91 jezebel282

    Mr. Forrester,

    As I understand it, staffing will be reduced by 3 or more firefighters (required to man Engine 5) through scheduling. Engine 5, heavy rescue, will be idle. Central station (the most active) will have staff reductions, response time from Lordship or Huntington will be increased. Since fires double every 60 seconds….

    I am simply leery of proposals from Cavanaugh that make him look good to his boss at the expense of our safety. It wouldn’t be the first time Cavanaugh has done that. I would prefer to hear what the reductions mean from someone I trust.

  92. 92 gforrester

    Jez I understand your concerns, I will ask the Chief at the next Public Safety meeting as I was recently appointed to serve.

  93. 93 jezebel282

    Mr Forrester,

    “I will ask the Chief at the next Public Safety meeting as I was recently appointed to serve.”

    Things kinda slow at the BOE and you have too much time on your hands?

    ROTFLMAO!

  94. 94 gforrester

    Nope – just a dedicted volunteer willing to help out my community any way I can, be it as co-chair or the BOE, Public Safety Committee, EMS Funding Committee, or volunteering my 12 hours per week with Stratford EMS.

  95. 95 cstratct

    Mr. Forrester, just so we’re clear, you’re saying that it’s not within the Council’s scope to ask how money is being spent during the year? You may not have had authority to re-direct funds or the like, but as the town stewards it was certainly within the Council’s purview to ask questions and expose areas where you felt the money was being misspent.

    Not to mention the Council did vote on resolutions to spend funds on certain projects or activities did it not? Could the Council have voted against certain projects or activities if it felt those funds were not being spent wisely?

    I’m trying to understand why the Council gets a pass when the members are elected to be stewards for the residents and responsible for, in effect, being the check and balance of our local form of government.

  96. 96 mikereynolds

    Chris I agree with the basic premise of your question to Mr. Forrester.

    However I believe the council was met by stonewalling from your guy in the Mayor’s office. He wasn’t exactly forthcoming with information when asked.

    But I could be wrong.

  97. 97 jezebel282

    Update:

    2010 Schedule
    Budget Due by March 12th Mayor’s Budget presented to Town Council

    Saturday, March 13th
    9:00 am – 12:00 noon
    BUDGET WORK SESSION at Center School
    Board of Education

    Saturday, March 27th
    9:00 am – 12:00 noon
    BUDGET WORK SESSION at Room 213 Town Hall
    Fire Department: Administration, Fire Suppression, Communications
    Center, Fire Prevention
    Police Department: Administration, Investigation, Patrol, Records,
    Traffic, Professional Standards
    EMS, Emergency Management

    Wednesday, April 7th
    6:30 pm
    BUDGET WORK SESSION in Room 213 Town Hall
    Finance: Administration, Accounting and Treasury, Purchasing, Tax
    Assessment, Tax Collector, Computer Services
    Overhead And Debt Service: Contingency Accounts, Debt
    Service/Capital Purchases, Employee Benefits

    Saturday, April 10th
    9:00 am – 12:00 noon
    BUDGET WORK SESSION at Room 213 Town Hall
    Public Works: Administration, Building Inspection, Building
    Maintenance, Engineering, Highways, Town Garage, Parks,
    Refuse/Recycling, WPCA

    Monday, April 12th
    Public Hearing 6:45 – 8:00 pm
    Regular Town Council Meeting
    Budget ordinances introduced on Council agenda (first reading took
    place)

    Wednesday, April 14th
    6:30 pm
    BUDGET WORK SESSION in Room 213 Town Hall
    Human Services: Community Services, Health Department, Senior
    Services, Sterling House, , Economic Development, Visiting Nurses
    Association, Recreation Department, Short Beach Complex Stratford
    Library Association

    Wednesday, April 21st
    6:30 pm
    BUDGET WORK SESSION in Room 213 Town Hall
    Administration: Office of the Mayor, Council Clerk, Human Resources,
    Town Attorney, Chief Administrative Officer, Registrar of Voters, Town
    Clerk, Town Buildings, Agencies, Planning and Zoning
    Week of April 26th Town Council releases proposed budget changes

    Tuesday, May 4th
    Public Hearing 7:00 – 9:00 pm Budget Public Hearing at Stratford HS
    Wednesday May 5th Special Ordinance Committee meeting to refer Ordinance back to Council

    Wednesday May 5th
    Second reading of ordinance during Special Council meeting – ordinance passed

    Wednesday June 3rd , 2010 Ordinance for budget in effect

  98. 98 jezebel282

    Cstrat, Mike,

    § 6.2.2 Budget Appropriations.
    [Amended 11-4-2008]

    The Council shall annually pass an appropriation ordinance not later than May 12, which ordinance shall be based upon a budget submitted by the Mayor. The appropriations made in such ordinance and the budget submitted by the Mayor shall provide for the frill fiscal year of the Town.
    (Interesting how that typo was never fixed)

    § 6.2.5 Transfer of Funds.

    At any meeting and after at least one week’s public notice, the Council, by an affirmative vote of seven (7) members may authorize the transfer of unused balances appropriated for one purpose to another purpose, or to appropriate available revenues not included in the annual budget.

    Please note that 6.2.5 requires only that the council pass a budget transfer with a 7/10 majority. That is all the Charter says about budget transfers.

    The simple truth remains that the “revised” Charter essentially eviscerates the power of the council and concentrates it in the hands of a mayor. Mayor Moron treated the budget as if his mother told him how to spend his allowance.

  99. 99 cstratct

    Budget appropriations are one thing. The transfer of funds is something else. I’m not even talking about actually having control of the funds. I’m talking about oversight, hence the use of the word steward. Is it not the role of the Town Council to conduct oversight of the Mayor’s activities?

    If the information was requested and not provided by Mayor Miron then he was clearly in the wrong. It was as much his responsiblity to work with the Council as it was the Council’s responsibility to oversee the activities of the Mayor. If it was publicly available information, then the Council (like everyone else) had access to that information. You don’t need a printout of every RFP if the RFP’s are available on the town website. Perhaps it’s just me, but if a document is available for downloading from the town website it is publicly available.

    I don’t believe the Council’s power is “eviscerated” by the Charter. If that were the case why bother even having a Town Council? The Council serves an important role, which is why I asked the questions in the first place.

  100. 100 jezebel282

    Cstrat,

    “I’m talking about oversight, hence the use of the word steward.”

    If you allow the transfer of funds without even an explanation, how much oversight can you have? Answer: None.

    “If the information was requested and not provided by Mayor Miron then he was clearly in the wrong.”

    For the last 4 years almost every document request had to go through the FOI process. I’m sure Gavin Forrester can fill out those forms in his sleep with the amount of practice he’s had. Even something simple like whether something was even ordered required an FOI. For example…the FD STILL doesn’t have radios as Miron and Cavanaugh promised before the election.

    “If that were the case why bother even having a Town Council?”

    Why indeed? I agree that the Council(s) could have done more, but let’s not forget that not only were they fighting Mayor Moron but his entire administration including the Town Attorney who never seemed to write an opinion not backing Miron.

  101. 101 cstratct

    WIth regard to the transfer of funds, there’s a lot of leeway there. The passage talks about “transfer of unused balances appropriated for one purpose to another purpose, or to available revenues not included in the annual budget.” So apparently the Town Council has a fair amount of “oversight” with respect to financial issues. It doesn’t say this has to occur only at the beginning or end of a budget year. And what is wrong with a 2/3 majority? Isn’t that a check and balance issue as well?

    As for the Town Attorney situation, how is this going to be different with the current administration? The Town Attorney is selected by the Mayor, therefore it is very likely that the Town Attorney’s opinion is going to support the Mayor as I would assume the Mayor would consult with the Town Attorney prior to moving forward.

    I think the personalities previously involved (both Mayor and many Town Council members) didn’t help matters. Mayor Miron’s conduct in certain circumstances left a lot to be desired. Unfortunately the same could be said of some Council members in certain situations.

    I hope the new Town Council will not just be a rubber stamp for Mayor Harkins. They all seem to be getting off to a good start, but what happens during the budget discussions will go a long way in showing the residents what we can expect for at least the next two years.

  102. 102 jezebel282

    Cstrat,

    “transfer of unused balances appropriated for one purpose to another purpose, or to available revenues not included in the annual budget.”

    Maybe the keyword here is “unused”. Miron transferred balances at any time (usually to Buturla’s Berchem Moses & Devlin firm). “Unused” usually implies the funds have not been used. Not “not been used yet”. Ask that paragon of virtue, John Norko or Sue Collier.

    “As for the Town Attorney situation, how is this going to be different with the current administration?”

    Well, this Town Attorney did have to be approved by the Council. We can only hope at this stage that “unused balances” don’t start disappearing into Bishop Kelly & Jackson offices. I still hope that Town Attorney costs can be kept to under $1 million per year.

  103. 103 pcsperling

    George ~

    I found it a little necessary to respond to an item in your posting #88. The budget workshop you attended on Saturday has always been held at Center School. You indicated that last year, only one custodian was there an this year, there were three. You are incorrect. Last year there were two, and this year there were two. There was also an A/V guy present to assemble and disassemble the A/V equipment. How do I know? My husband is the custodian at Center School. He worked the budget workshop last year as well as this year, along with one other custodian (the same guy was there last year too). I’m not sure what your point was on that one, probably something to do with the fact that they are union employees and you felt that there was one too many there.

    I’m immensely bothered – these guys are union employees. Their hourly wages and benefits set by a negotiated contract. During years of contract negotiations – of which this is one – the board members do their darndest to take benefits away. It is bothersome especially since the guys negotiating for the BOE will use the economic downturn in their game. These employees’ raises are set by contract – during good years, they don’t get anything extra, no bone tossed there way because times are great; however, in bad years the BOE negotiating team will try to suck it all away. I doubt they’d give anything back when times are better! If their contract says they will get a 1.5% raise during a financially great year, that’s all they will get – while the non-union BOE employees may be given 4% or even more. Those non-union employees might even get a merit raise – remember what Miron pulled in October? My husband can do the best job and never get a pat on the back. So, what they don’t get on the front end (in their paycheck) they get in other ways through benefits.

    I expected that we’d be up against a mil rate increase – especially since Miron snowed us last year as part of his political maneuvering. I don’t envy Mayor Harkins – he’s got a tough job right now. I also don’t think that the residents can continue to handle this ever increasing tax burden. There needs to be other, creative ways. Give backs by the higher-up non-union employees – upper adminsitration (e.g., paycuts), four-day work weeks – residents can deal; furlough days, etc.

    I’ll stop….I’m starting to ramble….

    Maybe one of these suits should step into their shoes (kinda like undercover boss) and maybe they’ll have a little more respect.

  104. 104 phineast

    The Council does have power and authority over the money. There are several things that factor in that you all have overlooked.
    1st- The budget is an ordinance-the language in how the ordinance is written was drafted by an attorney that worked at the pleasure of the mayor. That is the reason the language of the actual ordinance was vague. When unethical minds work together we get what we just got rid of from the last 4 years.
    2nd Council could have at anytime prior to the passage of the ordinance stepped up and said they had an issue with how money that was budgeted one way was being spent another in the previous year-they either didn’t think to do it, didn’t know they could do it or chose not to. At least we aren’t dealing with the miron cronies too much and if any get out of hand I believe we have a mayor that will chop the hand off before it gets to the money jar if he is made aware-but he will chop legally.
    3rd-Council also has the power to go after the mayor if he violates an ordinance-they just have to include the “punishment” in the ordinance. They can stipulate in the ordinance that any intra/inter department transfer over a certain dollar amount in a designated time period has to be approved by Council or the transfer cannot be made by the finance department. Spell out the penalty to the finance dept for the violation. That is something that should have happened a couple years ago when the mayor released money that council didn’t approve to pay for overages incurred by the Arts Commission(not picking on anyone just siting an example).
    Some of this already exists but no one used it.
    In defense of the Council, they are a group of volunteers-but there is no defense for what the former mayor and t.a. allowed to happen in this town. It is reprehensible and indefensible.
    What this new Council needs to do is read the Charter and the previous ordinances that were budget related and really think through how to safe guard the community from anyone that may come down the road in the future that may have the ethics of miron. John Harkins is a good guy-but he may not be the mayor 100 years from now and safeguards have to be put in place to protect us.

  105. 105 phineast

    PCS-you are correct—they should step into their shoes.
    But at the same time we need to get a handle on things. I have some great ideas that I will be sharing with the council and the mayor, that I promise you-and no one would lose a job-technically-maybe 2 people would, but they may be gone anyway by the time the budget is hashed out.

  106. 106 pcsperling

    Phin ~ I doubt very much that some of these suits would make it outside their paper-pushing offices!

    I agree there should be cuts. I recently saw a news segment about the significant gap between the white collor and the blue collar workforce. It’s out of control and the top heavy administration is where cuts need to be made!

  107. 107 phineast

    PCS-I read somewhere recently(could have been here-or maybe I even said it myself), you can’t trim a tree from its roots and expect it to survive. You start at the top. That is absolutely what needs to be done in this case.
    There are some other things that need to be done as well-some major restructuring of the hierarchy-of places like the Fire Dept (and the BOE-we need “SUPER” Gavin for this one!) etc.
    Hope to see you at the workshops!

  108. 108 1george1

    PCS,

    I have always been pro – union.
    I have NEVER been against anyone losing their job.

    If I remembered there was 1 custodian last year and a TV Cameraman
    and instead there were two custodians? Give me a break.
    If I posted there were 3 custodians and there were two, but one man
    who stood in back and looked like a custodian? Give me a break.

    The point of my comment was that there were NOT any other members
    of the public present last year, but this year I counted 31 after the
    Town Councilors resumed their seats.

    PCS – My comments about the custodians was incidental.
    However I admire your vest interest and pride in your husband and
    doing honest work!

    The thrust of my positions has been the big money being skimmed
    from the top like Health Insurance that could cost less, while not
    costing union people more.

    A fire House supposed to cost under $ 2 million and now reaching
    $ 7 million and you write nothing about it?

    Over priced Fire Trucks that could have been bought years ago and
    you write nothing about it?

    You made a big deal for years about the parking garage, jumping all
    over my position to use existing space, while waiting for the garage?
    You do not bother to show up at the developmental center public
    hearings, where 4 groups of 8 felt the commuter parking garage was
    maybe in the wrong place and could hurt parking for businesses since
    the commuter parking “was considered dead space for merchants”

    Your taxes will go up between 1 and 2 % unless I can impact the Budget
    and actively lobbied the Mayor, BoE, & Council for 14 separate ways to
    raise money and/or cut costs to save jobs and services while having an
    incrimentally phased lower taxes.

    PCS you can get as HOT as YOU WANT, but my suggestions are aimed
    at working people like you husband being able to keep his job, while
    certain people HOG MONEY! No offense but the cost of your husband’s
    job is relatively crumbs to the money that has been and is being diverted.

    I am trying to solve problems without people going to jail or losing a
    legitimate and viable pension, because a few sell out the many.

  109. 109 1george1

    GAVIN,

    Any comment on defined benefit pensions increasing 42 % in 43 months
    from Jan 2006 to July 2009?

    (I was too late to correct a typo of Jan 2005)

    Any comment that 593 people are define benefit obligated to $ 17.23 million,
    with 285 people having a minimum of $ 25,000 pension?
    And that there are over 200 and perhaps 300 still to pension out and unless
    patterns change 300 people x $ 60,000 = $ 18 million more?

    $ 17.23 million + 18 million = $ 35 million x 60 year window = $ 2100 million
    or $ 2.1 Billion.

    To under 900 people:
    Actuarially 30 year retirements cuts $2.1B by 1/2 = $ 1.05 Billion obligated
    Actuarially 20 year retirements cuts $2.1B by 2/3 = $ 700 Million obligated
    Actuarially 25 year retirements cuts $2.1B by 7/12 = $ 852.5 Million obligated

    Every one of the Town Councilors and Mayor are absolutely stunned by
    what Miron and the Henrick – Feehan Town Councils did to the Town.

    If they were all HIGH, I could understand their decisions.

    They appear to have a plan involving Dogstar + Shakespeare + AVCO +
    Airport + Raymark + Bridgeport …..

    However, they will double cross anyone who is no longer useful.

    They expect macro economic problems before the 3 Q and set up 2011
    and beyond with JUNE 26 as a KEY DATE, where everything “appears” to
    be going as planned.

    The best laid plans …

    There is always somebody with a better idea and quicker on the draw,
    or a better back shooter…. They always get rid of the assassins …

  110. 110 1george1

    I have given Gavin and others ideas, requested info, and to look into certain….

    I will be talking to them further.

    Gavin is a smart cookie, but I doubt he wears a blue PJ with a red “S?”

    No offense Gavin …

    but cry p t o night …

  111. 111 jezebel282

    PCS,

    You are correct. There is a definite caste system at the BOE and the ones who take the biggest hits are at the lower rungs. When it comes time to cut, it is always the ones with the least seniority, least influence and least authority.

    Phin,

    In the last charter revision go round, most of what you suggest was brought up and quickly dismissed. Things like a full time Town Attorney, budget transfers, etc. It was amazing. We had Berchem Moses & Devlin bleeding us for millions and the commission was afraid a full time Town Attorney might be too expensive. With the DTC and RTC in control of committee memberships that kind of reform will never happen.

    George,

    “Your taxes will go up between 1 and 2 % unless I can impact the Budget”
    What can one say to such a humble statement?

  112. 112 gforrester

    Chris;

    Just read your earlier post. Problem over the last 6 months of the previous administration was that the Finance Director, HR, and Public Works Director missed a majority of the last 6 sub-committee meetings for either Finance and Claims, Pension, or Public Works so asking questions at the committee level fell on no ears let alone deaf ones. George has a better attendance record then the paid staff. When questions were asked of the Mayor at Council meetings the answer was either “I’ll get back to you on that” or a total disregard. Remember when I asked several questions about items ranging from the West Broad Street Green to the purchase of the Smart Cars and had to file a Freedom of Information Complaint to get the materials and pay $100 + for the materials ? Point is that the Council can ask until they turn blue in the face, if you repaly the tapes of the meetings, you will find that the previous administration viewed the council as a Nuisance rather than a overseer and information was not forthcoming.

    I did ask the questions of why we were spending so much OT money and budget money on the ‘special projects” or sould I say campaign signs that popped up everywhere and was told that they were “emergencies”

  113. 113 gforrester

    Yea George I do have a comment. The Town agreed to shit contracts and gave away the house in the 80’s & 90’s and we are still paying for it. Allowing OT, and Cash Outs to be calculated into the pension calculation is a crime and only an idiot would vote to approve an initial contract like that. George we got ripped off and once this crap is in the contract you can’t get it out. The Arbritation panels are stacked by Labor and everyone seems to have decided that government work is the gravy train that just won’t derail. Deny a pension allowed by contract and the only one getting rich wouold have been Burtrum, Moses and Devlin, oh that’s right, they DID get rich what am I saying lol.

    George who knows, someday you may see me back running for office again.

  114. 114 jezebel282

    Mr. Forrester,

    Back?

    Have you left?

  115. 115 1george1

    Gavin,

    THERE IS THE GAVIN THAT I KNEW WAS LURKIN THERE SUMPLAZ!

    I thunk my e-mails earlier got your attention?

    Gavin, you will find a couple of things that happened behind the
    scenes today will r e i n f o r c e ….
    what you saw
    what you posted

  116. 116 1george1

    This string has good information on it.
    Especially Budget Work Shop dates.

    Good to remind people that day or day before…

  117. 117 jezebel282

    George,

    “Especially Budget Work Shop dates.
    Good to remind people that day or day before…”

    I am not sure what good a budget workshop would do if there is no budget to review.

    I am told that if you drive down to Town Hall (from 8AM – 4PM) you can get a printed copy of the proposed budget. I’m not sure if they will charge you for it.


Leave a Reply

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s


%d bloggers like this: