What Lies Beneath

11May10

Town Budget

Written by John Kovach
Saturday, 08 May 2010 08:30

The Town Council Monday increased the 2010-11 budget proposed by Mayor John A. Harkins, but cut from the schools’ request.

The vote was 7-3 to approve a budget with an increase of $716,488 over the mayor’s proposal and to set the mill rate at 33.22 mills, up from the 33.16 initially proposed.
The major additions, made in a motion Monday night by Jason Santi (D-4th), included $450,350 in contingency, increasing that to $922,508, and a total of $240,000 toward an unfunded medical reserve fund.
The Board of Education saw the largest of two cuts, $200,000 to $92.4 million.
Stephanie Phillips (D-2nd) and Scott Potter (D-6th) were joined by Republican John Dempsey (R-5th) in voting against both the revised budget and the mill rate.

Matt Catalano said that while this budget was necessary to fix problems in town, rules would be different next year.
“The ship is headed in the right direction,” Catalano said.

Kim Meuse (D-7th) said she voted for the budget because cuts would cause more hardship than the increased taxes.
All involved praised the process, which was completed in less than a half hour without any acrimonious debate.
Before the meeting, speakers echoed many who took the podium last week pleading for lower taxes, saying the public cannot afford any tax increase in the current economy.

Yet again a budget has passed with no actual information provided to those who pay for the budget; Us. We have no information regarding actual costs, expenditures, liabilities or revenues. Apparently the Council believes we have no right to know. The budget “process” remains a municipal secret.

Next year we will be able to compare this budget to the one that will be proposed with no knowledge of where any of this money actually went. Again.

“Trust me”.

We would like to thank Councilman Catalano for suggesting the title of this article.

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67 Responses to “What Lies Beneath”

  1. 1 sudds

    “Matt Catalano said that while this budget was necessary to fix problems in town”

    Apperantly Councilman Catalano was only interested in fixing the problems that COST taxpayers money, and didn’t have the (…I’ll be nice and say…) spine to step-up and demand the CUTS that are necessary!!!

    I hope you enjoy your ONE term coward… err, I mean… Councilman. I officially will be doing everything within my powers to make certain that you are NOT elected again!!!

    SUDDS FOR COUNCIL 2012???

  2. 2 jezebel282

    Sudds,

    “SUDDS FOR COUNCIL 2012???”

    Will you provide quarterly budget reports?

  3. 3 sudds

    “Will you provide quarterly budget reports?”

    I won’t… but I’ll propose a motion that would legally REQUIRE them!!!

  4. 4 jezebel282

    Sudds,

    “but I’ll propose a motion that would legally REQUIRE them!!!”

    Works for me. Now all that remains is whether you will join the Aldrich/Molloy Town Committee or the Miron/Buturla Town Committee.

  5. 5 sudds

    That will depend 100% upon which party is better situated with the voters in 14+ months! (e.g. which affiliation is more likely to get me elected)

    just call me an opportunist… but an opportunist with (at least) half a brain!!! 😛

  6. 6 jezebel282

    Sudds,

    “which affiliation is more likely to get me elected”

    It looks like the DTC will still be staffed by felons. You cold run on a platform of “honesty” since you haven’t been convicted of anything…..yet.

  7. 7 sudds

    Between the DTC and the DNC… I’m not really certain how anyone can call themselves a Democrat anymore???

    Combine that with (soon to be former Councilman) Catalano winning 771-442-83, and… I’m leaning towards obtaining the Republican nom right now… but I’ve got time to “check the pulse” (literally in some instances… LOL!) of my soon to be constituents!!!

    ~~ Sudds for D-3 Council – 2011 ~~

  8. 8 sudds

    PS… What do you all think of this for my platform to gain the RTC nom???

    “because Catalano is too ignorant to google the word RECESSION”

    or perhaps

    “shouldn’t Catalano really be part of the DTC?”

    or maybe

    “was Catalano asleep during the budget hearings?”

  9. 9 jezebel282

    Sudds,

    “because Catalano is too ignorant to google the word RECESSION”

    Too general. He had six other Councilman joining him on that one.

    ““was Catalano asleep during the budget hearings?”

    Again, too general. They were all asleep. Who could blame them? It’s not like they had actual information to work with. They just had Harkins word that eventually, someday, in the future everything would be OK. “Trust me. I appointed Sue Collier, didn’t I?”

  10. 10 sudds

    general is fine… as long as it hits home to my soon to be constituents!!!

    Ok, how about:

    “can you REALLY afford another $1,000 tax increase courtesy of Mr. Catalano?”

    or maybe this on some bumper stickers/signs…

    “I’m voting for SUDDS… because I want to know where my tax dollars are going!!!”

    ~~ Sudds for D-3 Council – 2011 ~~

  11. 11 jezebel282

    Sudds,

    “as long as it hits home to my soon to be constituents!!!”

    Literally. That will be taken care of when their new increased mortgage payments take effect in July.

  12. 12 matpcat

    Dear Sudds,
    Glad you have the balls to sit behind your screen name and call me a coward.
    If you had the nerve to make yourself known to me you might have a better understanding of what transpired here.
    Nobody on this council wanted to raise taxes, however we were handed a deficit and the taxpayer at the moment is contractually F%$ked, due to years of horrible negotiations on behalf of the town.
    As far as being asleep at the budget workshops that’s laughable, the whole process was eye opening and astounding. How this town conducts business is archaic and murky at best. We have a lot of problems to fix and most of them come down to what Mayor Harkins and his team can negotiate at the table with six unions.
    We’re being raped on overtime (contractual), the BOE is almost uninsurable because of usage costs due to their “cadillac plan”. We have revenue streams that apparently don’t show up in the general ledger. the list goes on. It has existed this way for many years and we are changing that.
    There’s too much money being spent on administration and dead weight at the top with little or no accountability on supervisors and management. The HR department allowed people to stay in place that should have never made it to retirement.
    The people Mayor Harkins has hired impress me and understand what our problems are and I am confident enough in their ability to start changing the things that need changing.
    The taxpayers should be screaming at the BOE, the waste exhibited on that side is ridiculous and BOE members control that. Sheff/Oneill has given us 4 million in transportation cost’s. Kids should go to school where they live and walk (those that can).
    What this town council did last night spoke to the courage of people who were more concerned with a budget that was real. Painful but real. We didn’t underbudget OT for places like the FD which is expected to run to 2 million dollars this year (contractual).
    I’m not going to go tit for tat with you here Sudds. You want to have a discussion anytime you give me a call or stop by the house, I’m sure you know both, where as I have no clue who you are because you’re the brave man behind the screen name.
    Love, Matt

  13. 13 mikereynolds

    I don’t think Adam Bauer approved that message.

  14. 14 jezebel282

    Mr. Catalano,

    While I appreciate you posting here, you are aware that no one is required to relinquish their identity in order to make their opinion more or less valid.

    “How this town conducts business is archaic and murky at best. ”
    Precisely.

    “We have revenue streams that apparently don’t show up in the general ledger.”
    Exactly.

    “There’s too much money being spent on administration and dead weight at the top”
    Absolutely.

    The question is, aside from spending more money, what are you doing about it? What steps are being taken to reorganize, modify and illuminate these processes?

    Some of your lobs, by the way, were inaccurate and focuses blame in the wrong location.

    BUT, at least you have the dedication to discuss it. Thank you!

  15. 15 sudds

    (soon to be former) Council Catalano,

    Just for the record… I several hours ago I thought that you were a coward… now…

    …I THINK YOU’RE AN IDIOT!!!

    You single handily just trashed the entire budget process in your posting above… and YET, YOU VOTED TO APPROVE THE BUDGET!!!

    For cripes sake… you say that you were handed a deficit, yet… YOU APPORVED $450,350 FOR A CONTINGENCY!

    Seriously??? A contingency??? In the middle of a @#$%ing recession!?!?!

    I hope the taxpayers of Stratford have a contingency in their personal budgets… because this stellar move is going to cost all of them about $300!!! (this should go over particularily well with those who are unemployed)

    You morons on the Council (don’t worry… you’re not the only one who I think is an idiot)… approved a budget when YOU HAVE NO IDEA WHERE THE MONEY ACTUALLY GOES! (or, from your posting above, where it actually comes from)

    Counting the days until I am sworn in and can start correcting this MISTAKE,

    Sudds

    PS… I hope that Harkins at least had enough decency to pay for your rubber stamp!!!

  16. 16 gforrester

    Dear Mr. Catalano;

    If at any time you would care to sit down with me as the Chairman of the Stratford Board of Education and point out to me where the, and I do want to quote you correctly “the waste exhibited on that side is ridiculous and BOE members control that. Sheff/Oneill has given us 4 million in transportation cost’s. Kids should go to school where they live and walk (those that can).”, I would more than interested in hearing your insightful commentary. Just as you so expressed last evening that many of the municipal expenditures are “contractual” in nature many of the expenses that the BOE has to incur are required by State, Court, or Federal unfunded mandates. It would appear that you are Stratford’s own version of the Shell Answer Man so, as you most aptly stated if “You want to have a discussion anytime you give me a call or stop by the house, I’m sure you know both”

    Respectfully;

    Gavin B. Forrester III
    Chairman
    Stratford Board of Education

  17. 17 sudds

    Ut oh… you’re in trouble now Matty!!! 😛

    Mr. Forrester… how about if we start off a little easier for him???

    Matt,

    Last night you approved a budget of $4,000 for “printing and stationary” within the “Finance, Accounting & Treasury” department…

    …can you please tell us how much has been spent year-to-date for “printing and stationary” within the “Finance, Accounting & Treasury” department???

    PS… I can tell you that they YTD amount for “printing and stationary” within the “Finance, Accounting & Treasury” department of my company is $743.17!!!

  18. 18 jezebel282

    Sudds,

    Obviously Norko & Collier spent every penny of the $3,545 that was allocated for “printing and stationary” last year, right?

    By the way, that would be 2 pages of 24lb paper (at retail) for every man woman and child in Stratford. Did you get yours?

    Just sayin’…..

  19. 19 cstratct

    Mr. Forrester,

    You appear to take great personal offense when anyone has issues with the BOE and its spending practices. Why is that exactly? Are you the only person who truly understands the BOE budget?

    Perhaps people are fed up paying for 27 principals and assistants, each of whom make more than $100K per year plus benefits.

    Perhaps it is that people are fed up paying over $100K per year to more than 30 BOE administrators.

    Tell us Mr. Forrester, why do we need 2 asst. principals and a principal for each of the two high schools when there are several hundred fewer students in Stratford High?

    How about instead of insulting anyone who has concerns about the BOE budget you at least attempt to provide a fair-minded response?

    A significant portion of the increase in this year’s budget is being shoveled directly into the BOE. Residents have a right to raise legitimate concerns when $90M is at stake.

    You’re not the only person who can read a budget. There are many people who have been looking at this data for some time and have serious and legitimate questions.

  20. 20 1george1

    Matt and Gavin

    Why don’t you write public letters to the editors pointing out
    the same things you wrote today.

    However in the interest of clarity, why not name specific names
    and dates of the various people and contract vaguely noted.

    Since my home was broken into March 18 and since the Gavin Forrester
    e-mail where his address book sent Trojans amuck to various people,
    which may or may not have been with Mr. Forrester willing to help the
    people whose interests he appears to support

    My computers were emptied of Town Attorney and Mossman related
    files as well as FBI and U. S. Justice information.

    Since Harkins choose the March 18 date and time, the 49 th anniversary
    of my mother’s death, and since so many Esq, Burturla files were stolen,
    and since the Stratford police reports are works of fiction – there was
    no incentive to report to the police.

    While this bothers me, it actually did more to clarify relationships of
    which I was unsure, which crosses partisan interests.

    Some of the locals / State political justice are as scummy as those
    from the Al Capone and Nottingham Days, they control the process.

    Because the means they had to use were less sophistocated than the
    ones I know exist from NSC, DOD, CIA, and national capabilities it has
    further enhanced my understanding of area / state relationships.

    Some of what was deleted / stolen was generated by me – not important.
    Some of what was deleted / stolen was public record and much is backed
    up or publicly available – not important.

    My priority has always been to separate the wheat from the chaff.
    The recent actions simply separated more chaff from wheat.

    The Town Council Vote last night while not meaningless, is reversible
    under Town Council rules, and State Law.
    It requires a second reading and second vote. Right Matt & Sudds?

    Gavin, instead of hiding behind unspecified mandates and contracts,
    why did you NEVER in 6 years on the TOWN COUNCIL PUBLICLY make
    a PUBLIC ISSUE out of the AFORESAID / WRITTEN unfunded mandates
    and contracts, which we debated and which were Mayoral ISSUES.

    Repeatedly I asked theTown councils and Managers, and Mayor and
    finance people to LIST ALL UNFUNDED MANDATES and BILL the STATE
    and FEDS?

    Gavin – it is even on years of blogs …

    Gavin – with 6 years on the PENSION BOARD, where was your withering
    comments and criticisms of the prior councils, negotiators, attorneys,
    and various managements?

    We have an Al Capone / Nottingham analogous criminogenic system,
    where people will become dangerous when then lose everything.

    Will debted homes see fires and maybe firemen lose lives?

    Will debted, foreclosed homeless see rage and maybe police or elected
    or appointed or Town Committee members lose lives?

    On the History Channel and the Military Channel, there were thousands
    of political assassinations when HITLER was ASSUMING POWER.

    GAVIN hates HITLER, like I hate HITLER and nearly as much as Sylvia and
    other blog readers do, as his relatives served in europe, while my dad
    was a WW II Combat Vet.

    Gavin is smarter than the average bear.
    Matt appears angrier than the average bear.

    If you will not reverse positions, because of the impact on people
    who can not afford these perpetuations of impositions, for gawd’s
    save, due it to protect your selves.

    The Tea Kettle steam is whistling and wha happens when people
    lose REPRESENTATIVE GOVERNMENT, have RIGGED COURTS and lose
    all respect for the LAW and GOVERNMENT people.

    Matt and Gavin are still out in front, while Dick Miron, Dick Burturlam
    Jim Miron, Schirillo, Kent, Aldrich, and others have lower profiles.

    I wonder why they and others choose lower profiles now ?

  21. 21 jezebel282

    Cstrat,

    I agree with you about the number of administrators and their lucrative pay.

    However, Mr. Forrester has an extremely valid point about unfunded mandates from the Feds and the State. Every politician likes to make the rules for education but none of them want to pay for them.

    As for Mr. Forrester’s defense of the BOE, he would be a poor member indeed if he did not defend the BOE, wouldn’t he?

    Personally, I think a complaint should be filed with the Insurance Commissioner of the State of Connecticut about a 62% increase in premiums for Healthnet.

  22. 22 cstratct

    Jezebel,

    This isn’t about Mr. Forrester’s defense of the BOE. I was referring to his condescending remarks whenever anyone raises an issue he takes offense to. He takes comments regarding the BOE as a personal affront when that is not the intention.

    He may have a valid point about unfunded mandates, but that doesn’t explain BOE staffing and salaries that are shining examples of “wasteful” spending. Of course we want to employ qualified, exceptional individuals. But there has to some fiscal responsbility, and seeing more than 30 positions in the BOE with salaries exceeding $100k doesn’t look like fiscal responsibility to me.

    Sorry, but Mr. Forrester seems to be getting good at playing the blame game. He ran for the School Board, no one forced him into it.

  23. 23 phineast

    After reading the posts I have decided to weigh in.
    Sudds- Matt may not have the political “experience and expertise” that you claim to have but he was the only council member that came right out and stated that they had to deal with the previous administration’s budget deficit-that took balls to do and for only having a council seat for a few months-I gotta give him credit. Sudds I am wondering if you were at all the workshops and work sessions that were held so the council members could understand the process. I don’t think you were. To come out publicly and say that book keeping practices are “murky” and to lay out that there are accounts that may have been hijacked takes courage. I honestly thought you had more class than to attack in such a juvenile manner….Mind you I’m not attacking you-just pointing out that you may be having a “moment” that you need to rethink for a brief time at least. Even if you were elected you would need some time to become acclimated-You quarterly report idea is excellent-though I’d be the finance dept who have heart failure over it. It really is an excellent idea.
    Jez- in this instance I happen to agree with Matt-the ship needed to be reset-and while it may not be obvious to you at this moment-I happen to believe it will become more obvious as we move ahead in town. I agree with you that the details that were missing from the process was inexcusable form the finance department. I am confident that now that sit is out in the public arena that things were not listed and could very well have been hijacked people are going to be scrutinizing the finance dept even more than ever. At least I hope that is what happens along with a total revamp.
    Matt-Sudds made a great point about getting quarterly actuals from the departments and maybe you can put them up online -do it by ordinance so if they violate it you through the mayor can fire them. Hang in there –no one ever said it was gonna be easy.
    Gavin-It is interesting that just a year or two ago you were equally as critical of the BOE as others are now. Maybe they shouldn’t have used the word waste but instead should have used not mandated, or discretionary or something like that. There are areas the the BOE can change it’s waist size by trimming some of the non-mandated administrators and charging for non mandated busing(that is discretionary by the board), and all extra curricular activities-just for starters- and that would tighten the belt a couple of notches. Also if you can list some of the mandates that have been unfunded we lowly citizens can start lobbying to get rid of them or reduce the burden. That is something that I would have thought the Board would do along with other Boards in the state but, I’m just a citizen so what do I know. I know that you are aware that the people in this community can’t handle more taxes-Irene did a decent job but it is her job to try and “get more” for the BOE. It is your job to be sure that it is fair to both the citizens and the students-notice I left the staff out of that equation? The taxpayers in this town are far more than fair to the staff-they get beyond excellent pay, beyond excellent benefits, beyond excellent vacation, sick and personal time. They are very well compensated-at the top of the pay scales-But here is my problem with that: we aren’t turning out students that are at the top of the test realm, we aren’t turning out tons of students that are applying or going to Ivy league schools or their equivalent…why? I know the financials of why…parents in town can’t afford ivy league schools for the most part-I want to know why we haven’t out performed all the area schools on testing…for what it costs us we should. This is what frustrates people. They want the tangible proof that their dollars are well spent-and they aren’t getting that. None of this is your fault Gavin, but understand, as chairman you are the one that will take the heat-you were good at it when on the council-
    Chris-I agree with what you said but no need to attack Gavin-he’s a volunteer just like you.
    one final thought- I hate the fact that any of us has to pay more taxes. I give it one year to see some major changes-I will only be patient to a point-if taxes go up next year all bets are off.

  24. 24 jezebel282

    Cstrat,

    Okie dokie. But I’m pretty sure Mr. Forrester was responding to the tone set by Mr. Catalano who appeared to take offense at being called a “coward” and “ignorant” by Mr. Sudds.

    Considering that the BOE budget was held at <1% except for the gouging of a 62% rate increase from Healthnet, I'd have to say the BOE budget was "controlled". Except for the overabundance of administrators.

    On the other hand, the Town side budget, by Mr. Catalano's own admission, is a fiction based upon last year's fiction. He has yet to respond to a request for quarterly public reports (like a 10Q) that any accountant would insist upon for any company, not to mention one completely funded by voting taxpayers. The same goes for Mr. Forrester and the rest of the BOE.

  25. 25 jezebel282

    Phin,

    Well thought out and written.

    “At least I hope that is what happens along with a total revamp.”

    I have not heard of any commitment from anyone nor the details about this being done. My hope is dimming rapidly.

  26. 26 cstratct

    Phin, please show me where I attacked Gavin. I didn’t insult him or call him names. I simply raised certain issues about the BOE budget that I think are valid areas of concern. And there appears to be others who agree.

    As for Gavin, this isn’t the first time he has displayed his disdain or contempt for someone else’s opinions.

    For instance there’s this: “Ok Chris you have had your 15 minutes of righteous indignation over the BOE budget. . .”

    https://stratfordcharter.wordpress.com/2010/03/18/analyse-this/

    It’s that kind of dismissiveness that is on display here. He may not like it when people question the BOE budget, but when taxpayers are on the hook for millions we have a right to raise concerns like this. And I don’t think Matt is that far off regarding the BOE budget.

    These comments and concerns are directed toward the BOE budget, not the individual. He is an elected official who chose to run for office. At least where I’m concerned it isn’t personal. I think the salaries being paid to many administrators in the BOE are excessive and I think there are more administrators (asst. principals in this case) then are necessary.

    And Jezebel, as for the <1% increase, look at the increases over the last 5 years.

    2006-2007 budget: $79,536,245
    2010-2011 proposed budget: $94,151,404

    19% increase over the 5 year period and look at where the reductions in line items have been made. Teachers have been cut, textbook and supplies cut (by nearly half since 06-07) and improvement in instruction cut. Now look at the individual salaries and see how administrative salaries have climbed during the same period. The "<1%" is very misleading when all the pieces of the puzzle are reviewed.

  27. 27 1george1

    At the end of the Vote, Irene had a big smirk on her face.
    She got up to leave, smirk and all.
    As she turned down the aisle, just a couple rows back, she saw me.
    Magic ?
    The smirk disappeared.
    As Irene passed I got “the smile.”

    But then I deserved it.
    I wanted extra money for the Library to hire a couple of Research
    Librarians to find extra money for Town / BoE / Businesses / People.

    As an example for diversity, I showed a Pepsi 2 liter bottle:
    “Thousands of ideas. millions in grants.”

    Otherwise I asked for a 10 % reduction on Town + BoE.
    I requested a decrease to 27 mils, even… 😉

    Interesting that the Tom Malloy Town Council had so much fun
    with the Daffodil being named the Town Flower.

    Yes they voted on that.

    The Town Council had a good old time having Chris Barnaby
    read Kim Meuse’s proclamation into the record.

    It passed unanimously. Unlike the Budget.
    The 3 Democrats, except Kim voted against the Budget increase,
    while Gavin, Lindberg, & Calzone watched from the back and a
    few town workers / Library / BoE attended.

    From Wikipedia:

    1) “NARCISSUS”
    (pronounced /nɑrˈsɪsəs/)[1] is the botanic name for a genus of mainly
    hardy, mostly spring-flowering, bulbs in the Amaryllis family native to
    Europe, North Africa, and Asia.

    Daffodil is a common English name, sometimes used now for all varieties,
    and is the chief common name of horticultural prevalence used by the
    American Daffodil Society

    2) “NARCISSISM”
    is the personality trait of egotism, often used as a pejorative, denoting
    vanity, conceit, egotism or simple selfishness.

    Applied to a social group, it is sometimes used to denote elitism
    or an indifference to the plight of others.

    I could almost picture the absentee owners of the Democratic Town
    Committee dining at Mill River Country Club with their Republican
    Town CABAL of PARTNERS in LITERARY PUNish-MEN”T” mocking the
    Town Council and Mayor as their own ensemble of PINOCCHIOS

  28. 28 phineast

    To answer your question Chris- it was the tone that was attacking. Just an observation not an accusation. If you know Gavin you know that in public he is not usually a warm/fuzzy type-he is intelligent, a quick thinker, great with detail and definitely not the most patient person I have encountered-but he knows his stuff, he knows what rock to look under and shine the light and most important-he loves this town and the people in it. So if you expect warm/fuzzy answers or patient explanations forget it-you will however get a direct and honest answer in efficient time. Personally, I agree with your administrative points of house keeping-but not the tone in which they are delivered. Matt is also correct or pretty damn close-he can also be just as abrasive as his predecessor-though I don’t believe for one second either on means anything by it or does it intentionally. Ask your questions-they are good ones just leave your teeth in your mouth-no reason to take a bite out of 2 guys that are doing the best they can with the lousy hand they and we were dealt.
    Jez-thank you.
    Just in case anyone is wondering….if Miron the moron had presented real
    budget numbers during his last 2 + years in office and used the money the council allocated as he was directed to, we would have only had a .97 mil increase this year…….so if anyone deserves to be criticized he is the one as he presented fictitious budgets for the former councils to work with—-and before him if everyone had properly funded the pension and kept their hands out of it the residents of this town would have been fine and able to keep what belongs to them-their homes and their money.

  29. 29 gforrester

    Chris;

    In response to your postings:

    You appear to take great personal offense when anyone has issues with the BOE and its spending practices. (No I take no offense at all, but if you are going to make a statement about wasteful spending yet fail to expand with specific examples then I will question the validity of that statement.)

    Are you the only person who truly understands the BOE budget? (No absolutely not and I never claimed to be).

    Perhaps people are fed up paying over $100,000 for 27 principals and assistants, and0 BOE administrators. ( Yes Chris perhaps they are, so do you have a suggestion in that regards, should we lower the educational or service time requirements and therefore offer less compensation? )

    Tell us Mr. Forrester, why do we need 2 asst. principals and a principal for each of the two high schools when there are several hundred fewer students in Stratford High? ( Yes, in my opinion as a matter of fact we do and I will be more than happy to request a copy of their job description if you would like)

    How about instead of insulting anyone who has concerns about the BOE budget you at least attempt to provide a fair-minded response? ( Chris I don’t view anything that I said as insulting. I welcome anyone that has concerns to address them to the Board but I honestly can’t say that you have ever attended a Board Meeting, or for that fact, the public budget session when we made a presentation of the entire budget. You don’t seem willing to give the BOE any credit for efforts that they have made to avoid or reduce costs. Despite the recent premium increase we are actually better off financially today than we would have been with traditional coverage plans and the annual increases there in. If you have a moment check out the power point presentations that are on the BOE website. In addition we have reduced our transportation costs by bidding out our contract, reduced our energy costs by bidding out the services, and worked with our unions to keep labor costs reasonable. I have absolutely no problem exchanging dialogue regarding the budget but if you are just going to be critical without acknowledging the efforts that have been made to keep costs down then I view that as unfair.

    A significant portion of the increase in this year’s budget is being shoveled directly into the BOE. Residents have a right to raise legitimate concerns when $90M is at stake. ( They absolutely do have that right and if it not for the insurance premium increase the overall percentage increase would have been .72% so I think that is a prime example of how the operational side of the Education Budget is being kept in line.)

    You’re not the only person who can read a budget. There are many people who have been looking at this data for some time and have serious and legitimate questions. ( Again Chris, if in fact there are many a vast majority of them did not contact the Board, did not attend the public sessions, and did not speak at the Ordinance Committee public hearings)

    He takes comments regarding the BOE as a personal affront when that is not the intention. ( If people are going to make statements regarding wasteful spending and it’s the BOE’s fault then yes I will defend the actions of not only the Board that I currently serve but those dedicated volunteers that served before me. Unlike some others I don’t blame everything on “past elected leaders failures” because I have been in their shoes and truly felt that they made the best decisions with the information presented to them at the time)

    19% increase over the 5 year period and look at where the reductions in line items have been made. Teachers have been cut, textbook and supplies cut (by nearly half since 06-07) and improvement in instruction cut. ( Chris that statement can be very misleading, teachers have been cut as well as added as programs change, as an example, a systematic program to offer world language in K-6 was began and that increased the number of teachers for that specific program. At the other end of the spectrum teachering positions have been reduced as programs are no longer offered. Over the past five years all textbooks have been updated where needed and the expense is actually part of that 19% increase so yes the annual budget reflects the fact that we do not need to spend as much money update course material. So what you implying is that the BOE has been shifting $$ to pat salaries rather than by textbooks and that is not accurate.So to has the classroom furniture and flooring been replaced, white boards added, video projection updated, and we have hired more classroom aids and tutors to assist us with classroom and special instruction.)

    As for Gavin, this isn’t the first time he has displayed his disdain or contempt for someone else’s opinions. ( If anyone is going to expound inaccurate information without the apparant effort to verify their position then I will vigoriously respond.)

    In closing Chris I did place my name on the ballot and ran for office and will continue do what I can to improve the conditions in my community and I will make every attempt to point out areas of mis-information when I feel it is warranted. This has been my approach for the past 10 years that I have served the Town of Stratford as an elected official and I will continue to strive to serve my community in an elective capacity until the voters or term limits tell me that my service is no longer wanted. If you would like to discuss the issue further I invite you to contact me and we can set up a time to discuss your concerns and any suggestions that you may have in an effort to save the Town of Stratford money. I never turn a deaf ear to anyone that has constructive criticism or suggestions as no one has all the answers.

    Sincerely;

    Gavin

  30. 30 jezebel282

    In defense of Sudds (really? I’m actually defending Sudds?):

    Mayor Harkins and the Council just got finished reaching into every household and business in Stratford and extracting $500+ more from families and Lord knows how much from businesses.

    Some venting is to be expected upon those who voted “yes”. Given the “murky” data used as a basis for this year’s budget it is my opinion that a “yes” vote was cast on the basis of “whatever you say”.

    At the end of the argument, Sudds is absolutely correct. You cannot vote for a budget and pass it into law based upon unknown expenditures and mysterious revenue streams. Every single resident that pays their mortgage, rent and possesses a motor vehicle and every business that maintains property in Stratford has an absolute right to know how their money is spent. In detail.

    As for Mr Forrester, most have forgotten that as a councilman he was on the BOE liaison committee and vehemently opposed the arbitrary cuts Miron attempted to impose year after year in his personal war with Irene Cornish. And lets not forget his service as an EMT with EMS and having to work with Donna Best (unpaid as well). It is no surprise that he is not known as Mr. Cheery.

    As for Tom Molloy, I’m not sure what his excuse is since he was a BOE member himself and is fully aware of the better financial planning and execution of the BOE. (This is not to say that all BOE spending is justified or optimally efficient).

    Phin nurtures a belief that all will be well. Personally, after I made the dreadful mistake of voting for Miron the first time, that is how I felt. That did not turn out so well.

    As long as there is no accounting of where $180+ million goes all will not be well.

  31. 31 sudds

    WOW… where to begin…

    ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

    Councilman Catalano:

    “Perhaps people are fed up paying for 27 principals and assistants, each of whom make more than $100K per year plus benefits.”

    AGREED, but…

    “And Jezebel, as for the <1% increase, look at the increases over the last 5 years.
    2006-2007 budget: $79,536,245
    2010-2011 proposed budget: $94,151,404”

    This is EXACTLY there should have been a DECREASE in this year’s budget!!!

    ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

    George:

    Seriously… Hitler? You just couldn’t refrain could ya???

    ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

    Phin:

    “Sudds I am wondering if you were at all the workshops and work sessions that were held so the council members could understand the process.”

    Why would I waste my time when the budget was basically approved as soon as Harkins submitted it???

    ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

    Jez:

    “In defense of Sudds (really? I’m actually defending Sudds?)”

    When someone’s right they’re right!!!

    PS… welcome to my campaign committee!!

  32. 32 sudds

    PPS…

    (soon to be former) Councilman Catalano…

    Your constituents are still waiting for an answer…

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

    Last night you approved a budget of $4,000 for “printing and stationary” within the “Finance, Accounting & Treasury” department…

    …can you please tell us how much has been spent year-to-date for “printing and stationary” within the “Finance, Accounting & Treasury” department???

  33. 33 cstratct

    Jezebel, we do know where half that $180M goes. I’m not being sarcastic or accusing anyone of anything, I’m simply stating that nearly half of the total town budget goes to the BOE, and according to what has been discussed here and elsewhere, the Town has no oversight with respect to the BOE. The Town’s authority ends when the budget is approved. Unless I’m mistaken, the Town Council simply approves the total number and has no authority over any line items in the BOE budget.

    Gavin, while I appreciate the more measured tone, the suggestion that because I wasn’t available to attend budget sessions or board meetings has no bearing on whether my opinion is valid or not. You say I’m not willing to give the BOE credit for reducing costs. It is difficult for me to heap praise on the BOE when the budget has increased 19% over the last 5 years (and I’m fully aware you weren’t around for four of those five years). The “cuts” you speak of were offset by increases in other areas. As far as compensation is concerned, yes the administrators could have been asked to freeze their salaries, especially those making more than $100K per year. Last year the superintendent cut teaching positions after not getting her proposed budget fully funded, yet administrative salaries were increased.

    As for the textbook and supply issue, Your comment that “Over the past five years all textbooks have been updated where needed…” is open to interpretation. I have spoken to teachers who have been told to make copies of licensed material because the school would not provide enough for all students. It’s not just textbooks, and I can tell you that I (along with many others) have donated supplies to teahers who needed supplies for their classrooms that weren’t provided by the school.

    Finally, this is a discussion forum for just these types of issues. I don’t come on here, insult people and hide my identity like some posters. I take ownership of my comments and raise issues that I believe are valid in a way that (at least in most cases) I believe is constructive rather than insulting. A rigorous defense is one thing, dismissiveness is something else.

  34. 34 cstratct

    One clarification, my final statement was NOT directed at you Gavin. You have always posted your comments openly and have not resorted to anonymous screen names. I do appreciate that.

  35. 35 rjhx

    This is the first time (and last) I have ever posted on any blog. I read this one occasionally, strictly for the entertainment value. However, after reading the string of postings I must comment.

    I spent the last two years on the town Financial Advisory Committee which I am no longer a member of. Mulligan will know who I am. On the committee, I spent three months reviewing the BOE’s new healthcare HSA program and presented a report to the Town Council. It is clear that no one read it as the information in these postings is so inaccurate it is scary. These are the elected folks making budget decisions?

    If you want to truly know what is financially happening in the town, then sit in on this committee. It is made of very smart people, with MBA’s and financial backgrounds. If you go, you then will understand the terrible financial condition of the town drivin by three items as the Mayor mentioned, pensions, benefits and workmans comp. Everthing else is noise.

    As for the BOE health program, the report I submitted and presented 18 months ago clearly identified a huge coming premium increase in the third year of the BOE HSA program with suggestions to reign it in. No one acted.

    The committee supported the BOE change to an HSA program however we questioned the stucture of the program. The insurance carrier (i cannot recall the provider) was new to the Fairfield County market. In order to get the business, they lowballed the bid for the first two years of a three year contract. The result was lower premiums in year 1 and 2 and a huge increase in year three of the just announced 60%. So the true cost of the program was pushed off and just delayed so these benefits could continue.

    The problem with the health insurance program is the plan is to rich. It has no correlation with what is going on in the private sector. The BOE members have “no skin” in the game so the system is overused and abused. They pay very little toward the extremely high annual premium (13%) out of thier paycheck. Private sector employees pay 35%-40% of a much lower premium. Also, they have minimal deductables/co-pays as compared to the private sector and an HSA that is fully funded by the taxpayers although I think that recently changed.

    The stucture of the plan invites abuse which results in a high experience rating, thus 60% increases. The plan needs to be changed and the BOE member needs to take greater responsibilty in paying it. Only then will they accept a less rich plan when they have to pay for it. Only then will the experience rating be driven down.

    The two most offensive words to the taxpayers in town are “contractually obligated”. If you want to fix the problems then those in elected office should first understand what is driving it and get the information needed for the next contract discussions. Healthcare benefits should be a yearly negotiaion and not locked in for a contract term. The market and experience rating changes to fast. It is not fair to the taxpayers who do not carry cadillac benefits to be paying cadillac benefits for others. Certainly BOE members deserve competitive wages and benefits, but they do not know how to define the word competitive.

    Good luck!

  36. 36 sudds

    Mr. RJHX…

    Thank you for your service to our town!!! (I just wish that those in the “ivory tower” had listened to you)

  37. 37 ronmoreau

    Mr. RJHX

    “The two most offensive words to the taxpayers in town are “contractually obligated”. If you want to fix the problems then those in elected office should first understand what is driving it and get the information needed for the next contract discussions. Healthcare benefits should be a yearly negotiaion and not locked in for a contract term. The market and experience rating changes to fast. It is not fair to the taxpayers who do not carry cadillac benefits to be paying cadillac benefits for others. Certainly BOE members deserve competitive wages and benefits, but they do not know how to define the word competitive.

    Good luck!”

    Let us hope they are listening know.

  38. 38 ronmoreau

    oops… NOW

  39. 39 ronmoreau

    Sorry Jez I couldn’t resist.

  40. 40 1george1

    Sudds
    Year + ago I made reference to police state / fascism / nazi.
    Gavin was hugely offended, as relatives fought in WW II Europe.
    My reference is analogous / allegorical.
    Much of what we read about Tea Party and other organizations
    is real anger about government where 80 % of USA does not TRUST
    Government.
    The other 20 % WORK directly / indirectly for government, right Gavin? 😉

    Sudds / Phin others
    The Town Council and Town Council alone creates BUDGETS – OK Spending.

    Gripe all you want about Miron, and I will not disagree with most, yet
    let us put credit or blame on FINANCES on 3 DECADES of what I believe
    are corrupt Town Councils
    – I will let State / Fed corruption ….. LIE …… ALONE

    Gavin,
    You addressed Chris, specifically.
    As you know I made issues about Ray O’Connell’s empire of the
    Administrative Staff, which Irene cut.
    Later she reassembled the empire of her own people.

    Gavin
    1 principal TOTAL for both HS + Jr high
    2 principals for 8 grammar schools
    All working directly under Irene.
    Zero assistant principals
    No one is fired.
    All go back to teaching / and or pt school supervisor.
    The Town is 18 square miles with only about 5 miles across.

    Only 1 school in Lordship.
    No Schools north of I-15.
    I would guess all the schools are within 12 sq miles.
    They could not be centrally administered with 2-3 secretaries on
    site to act as liaison to central command of the floating principals?

    Several of Chris’s points were made by me and others for years.
    However, because Chris does not attend Budget Workshops,
    most Town Council or BoE meetings, it is an easier shot at him
    than at me.

    I was the one who bought it to your attention after Branyan’s
    attention, there had been NO PRINTED FINAL BOE BUDGET.
    To your credit it was bought up at Budget Work shop your
    ran, whereas Feehan could not have been bothered ….
    To your credit Branyan’s the FINAL BOE BUDGET was created.

    Budget Workshops always left much to be desired as many
    key questions don’t get asked.
    Yet there are almost always soe gems.

    Gavin,
    Here is the FUN PART that you will NOT be able ANSWER credibly.

    1) You were the Town Charter # 1 Revision Commission and helped
    create # 2.
    Kevin Kelly verbally told me in front of Tim Bishop n Florek that
    Burturla is correct and we are now under the SPECIAL ACT CHARTER
    and I can NOT ask for BUDGET / FINANCIAL related PETITION, such as
    BUDGET REFERENDUMS or 2 % CAP

    We had those Rights prior to CRC # 1.
    Do you support or arre you against the CITIZEN’S RIGHT TO PETITION
    GOVERNMENT for REDRESS of GRIEVANCE
    (One of my grievances is FINANCIAL RELATED and I didn’t see exceptions
    in the 1st AMENDMENT – did you?)
    (This one of my grievances – FINANCIAL RELATED – is also covered under
    my 9th AMENDMENT RIGHTS)
    (This one of my grievances – FINANCIAL RELATED – is also covered under
    my 14th AMENDMENT RIGHTS – Equal protection of Law = Voting rights)

    Gavin, I favor representative government, like you do.
    However I stop short when government representatives political electd
    and/or politically appointed LIES, CHEATS, STEALS, and MURDERS.

    Gavin if the last sentence was true, would you agree with me?

    2) GAVIN
    You were on the Town Council for 6 years and on the PENSION BOARD
    for 6 years. In the first 43 Months of Jimmy’s term (Jan 2006 – July 2009)
    PENSION OBLIGATIONS INCREASED 42 % from TOTAL prior to Jan 2006.

    Those 2006 PENSION OBLIGATIONS and 1/2 of 2007 PENSION OBLIGATIONS
    came from BUDGETS that you worked on and APPROVED on TOWN COUNCIL.

    Gavin,
    Please correct me?
    Were you or were you not (as the MOST INTELLIGENT / KNOWLEDGEABLE
    of almost any Town Council Stratford was blesssed or cursed with having)
    at least partially responsible for these out of control PENSIONS?

    Gavin,
    I never remember you going to the PRESS with itemized and detailed
    specific criticisms, during those 6 years, and articulate situations of
    the PENSION ABUSES, did you?
    Gavin,
    Please correct me?

    Gavin,
    The BoE is about jobs and patronage.
    It is not about educating kds.
    For over 40 years HS / Jr HS / College has been the market for creating
    DRUG / ALCOHOL abuse nation wide.
    Police know which political bosses / interest, benefit.

    Tammany Hall’s is all about jobs for votes.
    More government jobs and jobs feeding off government, more vote control.
    Lower voter turn out, due to disgust, multiples the value of FOP voters.

    Gavin
    The next time you drive into the BoE parking lot,
    please note that you had turned onto Sutton Place.
    Fitting?
    Willie Sutton was a Bank Robber.
    When he was asked why he robbed banks?
    He replied …. “That’s where the money is.”

    Gavin,
    Before you reply to me, please put your clothes back on?
    Why?
    Cause right now, you are nakedly exposed to the readers.

    Last point.

    Monday, by unanimous vote, the official flower became the DAFFODIL.
    It was the same night as a vote for 12 % Tax increase.

    Having seen Dick Miron / Burturla and handling / control agents games,
    I smelled a connection, figuring something related to DAFFODIL was
    related to the BUDGET VOTE.

    I looked up DAFFODIL on Wikipedia.

    The Botanical name for DAFFODIL is NARCISSUS.

    I was unsure of the spelling of that word related to NARCISSISM,
    which I knew and looked up on Wikipedia.

    The definition was toooooo delicious
    NARCISSISM:

    Personality traits of egotism, vanity, conceit or simple selfishness.

    Applied to a social group. it is sometimes used to denote ELITISM,
    or “INDIFFERENCE to the PLIGHT of OTHERS!”

    Fredette’s saying applies: “This IS Stratford!’

  41. 41 rex525

    Matpcat,
    “Nobody on this council wanted to raise taxes, however we were handed a deficit and the taxpayer at the moment is contractually F%$ked, due to years of horrible negotiations on behalf of the town”.
    “We have a lot of problems to fix and most of them come down to what Mayor Harkins and his team can negotiate at the table with six unions”.
    “We’re being raped on overtime (contractual), the BOE is almost uninsurable because of usage costs due to their cadillac plan”.

    Typical political spin councilman Catalano, with NO MENTION of how your buddy Jim Miron spent money like a drunken sailor (no pun intended) to try to steal reelection. Strange how as soon as Jim Miron’s poll numbers dropped you distanced yourself from him and jumped on Tom Malloy’s lap (anything to help with your real goal of collecting a paycheck to run Shakespeare, right).

    Although I agree with the fact that many of our financial problems need to be addressed at the negotiation table with the unions, it seems that you and your cohorts have gone out of your way to alienate them since the election with all of your political banter. SMART MOVE.

    This council seems to me to be a giant step BACKWARD from the previous council on knowing the issues. A suggestion would be for all to learn the issues, learn them quickly and stop the political banter. Most of us who follow wordpress are far more sophisticated than your average constituants and we see right through it.
    It’s time for some open and HONEST dialog so we can IMPROVE this town, not more of the same old fingerpointing. Gavin Forrester always understood this and if the current council needs advise I would suggest they give him a call.

    I guess your posting is not something that should be unexpected though councilman, you have been referred to by many in your own party as “the most distrusted republican in Stratford” (ask Darth Decillio). By the way, using explitives such as F%$ked and raped seem rather ignorant for a councilman, don’t you think?

  42. 42 1george1

    CORRECTION
    Kelly stated we are under the HOME RULE ACT
    and NOT under the SPECIAL ACT CHARTER,
    like we were prior to Charter Revision!

    CORRECTION
    Kelly stated we are under the HOME RULE ACT
    and NOT under the SPECIAL ACT CHARTER,
    like we were prior to Charter Revision!

    CORRECTION
    Kelly stated in front of Bishop & Florek,Monday night
    we are under the HOME RULE ACT (Burturla’s Opinion)
    and NOT under the SPECIAL ACT CHARTER,
    like we were prior to Charter Revision!

  43. 43 rex525

    Sudds,
    YOU HAVE MY VOTE. Perhaps George would be kind enough to lend you his slogan “could I do any worse?”

    Where is your first fundraiser, I’ll bring my checkbook AND a keg.

  44. 44 sudds

    Ron/Rex…

    I’ll keep you posted on where to send your campaign contributions!!! 🙂

    ~~ Sudds for D-3 Council – 2011 ~~

  45. 45 1george1

    Rex posted just after I did and I had to create the correction,
    about a relevant subject.

    Afterall, this blog is named Stratford Charter dot wordpress.

    Most of the blog readers are town insiders, which ticked off,
    Jeze when I spread the address to the Feehan / Henrich Councils.

    Rex
    I can not write what is in the heart or end game or agenda of any
    Councilor or most people in town. I can write about words and
    deeds of political actions and inactions

    Catalano’s language is sometimes (Often) less than politically correct.

    However, at least he took a position that was published that
    GAVIN never took and I suspect will NEVER HONESTLY EXPOSE
    what I KNOW GAVIN KNOWS and what I suspect GAVIN KNOWS!

    GAVIN is smarter and more capable than most people, which is part
    of what frustrates me about him.

    If GAVIN’S ABRASIVE INTELLIGENCE was MATCHED by CATALANO’S
    PASSIONED and SALTY out burst, he would be CREDIBILE.

    Based on what I wrote to GAVIN / about his comments to Chris,
    I believe GAVIN’S … eh …. positions … are undressed.

    I am not happy Catalano voted for 12 % Tax increase.
    I am not happy anyone voted for ANY Tax increase.

    As 1st public forum speaker Attila stated: “What prevents them
    from coming ack year after year with 12 % increases?”

    MAYBE there should be a TAX on TOWN / BOE workers and
    retirees who do not live in Town and should be assessed at
    the TAX RATE of HOME of people with camparable incomes.

    Guestimate $ 10,000 Taxes a year for 1000 Boe + Town workers +
    retirees, who do not live in Stratford = $ 10,000,000.
    If it is in the right range – We just eliminated 2 mils of the 3 mil
    increase

  46. 46 jezebel282

    RJHX,

    Thank you for posting. It will be unfortunate if you do not post again.

    “Healthcare benefits should be a yearly negotiaion and not locked in for a contract term. The market and experience rating changes to fast.”

    I would like to take one (OK, maybe a couple) of exceptions to this. The first being that Health insurance premiums for anyone, public or private, are an extreme burden upon society with families particularly burdened. Which brings us to a public option, but I will save that for a different section. The second is that no municipal union would have a problem renegotiating health coverage IF they were invited to participate in the negotiations with the carrier. But to have an administration simply say this is the best deal you get, take it or leave it is not a very effective strategy.

    Oh…and by the way, Ben Branyan took full credit for saving the Town $1.9 million when the HSA was instituted. Who is getting the blame now? The unions?

  47. 47 jezebel282

    George,

    “Most of the blog readers are town insiders”

    Err…there were 614 readers before 7PM yesterday. At what point are you no longer an “insider”?

  48. 48 1george1

    Rex / sudds,
    I have about 2000 bumper stickers left.
    Just cross out my name or cover it with duct tape with Sudds.

    I would even donate them, depending on positions / pledged?

    Jeze,

    Souring on Ben Branyan?

    Irene and Ben did not like it whenI pointed out they are political
    appointees.

    Ben Baranyan and Ben Barnes are among the smartest people in
    town / area and I believe Ben Branyan is among the most ethical,
    which may not be writing a lot. “This IS Stratford!” 🙂

    Ben told me he was studying a different major before he switched
    to the Municipal management type of degree he has.
    Had he continued, Ben would have targeted a career analogous
    to being a ROCKET SCIENTIST.

    There is an idea for Raymark Dumpsites? 8)
    Better yet, let’s scatter it around Mill river Country Club sand traps. 🙂

    Have you checked Google’s satellite photos of Stratford?
    It takes some work to find the night photos.
    However Raymark, AVCO, Sikorsky, and part of the Housatonic River
    “GLOW IN THE DARK.” (Nah – I am kidding)

  49. 49 jezebel282

    George,

    “Souring on Ben Branyan?”

    Not at all. He is the most penny pinching administrator I have ever met.

    However, the facts are the facts. It was all Branyan as far as the HSA plan is concerned.

    As Daniel P. Moynihan said, “Everyone is entitled to his own opinion, but not his own facts.”

  50. 50 rjhx

    My final post to answer Jez’s points. No comment on the public option as it is a moot point which the town cannot control.

    As to the second point of allowing unions to sit at the table if a healthcare plan is negotiated annually outside of the contract, I would take that deal in a second. Contrary to belief, there is no negotiations with insurance companies. I know, as I own a company and deal with it every year. Insurance companys come to the table with various products (insurance plans) that change annually based on the market. You cannot negotiate individual items of each plan. You can negotiate the plan you select or carrier. The cheapest plan is not always the best so you must understand the detail. Occasionally you can buy a rider if offered. Insurance companies cannot manage individual plans for every member/company based on needs, so they come to the table with a fixed number of plans. The unions will soon learn that if at the table. Like my business, all town employees should have the same plan from the Mayor to the Janitor. There is a perception that managment does not want the best plan for employees. That is wrong if they are under the same plan. They want a plan that works for the employees and business or taxpayers. I would have them at the table every year.

    Finally lets talk about the $1.9M savings. I will say this again and it was highlighted in the FAC report to the council. There was no $1.9M in savings. What occured was a $1.9M cost avoidance. It is a big difference. When I spoke with Branyan, he agreed. BTW, he is a smart guy and a good town employee. The BOE did save about 4% over prior year spending on the HSA program. They avoided spending $1.9M with the change, but now three years later it is hitting them with the 60% increase. It was still a good deal, and the FAC recommended it be looked at town wide with structural plan changes. It was comical when Cornish ran around at budget meetings pitching it as $1.9M in savings to justify her other budget increases. I tried to tell the council members to challenge her on this. They just did not understand the financials so she “snowed” them.

    Which brings me to my final point. The Council should have any financial decision reviewed by the FAC committee. For example, we are spending $300K for an outside group to look at the pension, The committee spent a year on this and submitted a report to the council. Instead of spending $300K read the report. I will bet that the outside consultant will have the same conclusions. I guess it has no merit unless you pay $300K for it.

    Over and out!

  51. 51 sudds

    RJHX…

    When I am the King of Stratford… err, I mean a Councilmember… would you consider rejoining the FAC Committee (or at least offering me advise)???

    ~~ Sudds for D-3 Council – 2011 ~~

    “If I vote for a tax increase… you can neuter me”

  52. 52 1george1

    Sudds,

    Why punish Mrs. Sudds?
    Or Rocki?

    Rjhx / Jeze – interesting perspectives
    Jeze has come to understand whereas others have not ….
    There are politically based decisions.
    There are public interest based decisions.

    I frustrate Jeze to a portion of where Gavin’s failure to come clean
    about the reality vs. the politcal frustrates me.

    However, increasingly
    1 – Jeze has recognized the relevance of national / state to local
    and applied it to the blog.
    2 – Jeze has recognized not all of my conspiracies connections are
    irrelevant. (big difference than actually agreeing!) 😉
    3 – Jeze has recognized the bigger picture and has even nailed the
    uniform people she grew up admiring.
    (not nearly all the apples in the barrel are rotten – it only takes a few)

    I like the idea of the Mill River Raymark dumpsite.

  53. 53 jezebel282

    RJHX,

    “Over and out!”

    I would rather you said, “”Over” instead of adding “Out”.

    “to sit at the table if a healthcare plan is negotiated annually outside of the contract, I would take that deal in a second.”

    So would I. For far too long the relationship between the unions and the Town have been adversarial instead of cooperative. To make the unions a partner instead of an adversary by including them in the selection process is a more effective strategy. Most union presidents (not all) are extremely intelligent and understand the potential options.
    I have learned that more information tends to be a good thing rather than a bad thing.

    And yes, I am well aware of the sales practices of healthcare insurance companies. It generally amounts to “Give us your money and we’ll decide what we’ll give you.”

    “It was comical when Cornish ran around at budget meetings pitching it as $1.9M in savings to justify her other budget increases.”

    I remember that well. You are absolutely correct. If it was known that we would be hit with this increase three years ago…well, SOMEBODY wasn’t very honest were they?

    “The committee spent a year on this and submitted a report to the council. Instead of spending $300K read the report.”

    I would be pleased to publish a link to it or post your report (in its entirety) here. At least those who pay for the pensions can read it. The last question (for now) would be which friend of the Town Attorney will get the $300K consulting fee?

  54. 54 rex525

    Jez,
    “For far too long the relationship between the unions and the Town have been adversarial instead of cooperative. To make the unions a partner instead of an adversary by including them in the selection process is a more effective strategy. Most union presidents (not all) are extremely intelligent and understand the potential options.”

    I think I’ve heard something similar to that before. Oh yes I heard it on wordpress by Rex525 from March 25, 2010 in “Taxpayer response to the budget”,
    [An example of the Cheneyesque attitude, is all of this sabre rattling in the press. While I am not a big fan of labor unions, I realize that they are a necessary evil in municipal government. The labor unions of this Town were very supportive of candidate Harkins throughout the election. One would assume that those same labor unions would have been sympathetic to the plight faced by the current Harkins administration left by the slash and burn financial policies of Jim Miron. Certainly, they would have been willing to work with the new Mayor to solve these problems (to include some concessions in a year where all of the town labor unions are entering negotiations). Who would know better than the workers of this Town, imaginative ways to cut spending and find waste? But what does this administration do- go right to the newspapers and rattle their sabres- “the unions are at fault and we’re going to lay off and cut, cut, cut!” STUPID-STUPID-STUPID!]

    Whoever thought that the adversarial approach of dealing with the town employees following this election was a good idea was a damn fool and should be fired or shunned by Harkins (if in fact it was not Harkins idea). If the cooperative approach was used well before the budget hysteria, we may have avoided this latest tax increase and gained some well needed relief.

    My next prediction is that the unions will become so disenfranchised with the new administration that the entire negotiation process will be bogged down until after this recession is over. That will mean no relief for we taxpayers, but MORE big bucks for the army of town attorneys again (at the risk of ending up on George’s conspiracy page, isn’t this a pattern we see over and over in this town).

    Mr. Catalano’s latest rant was a prime example of the foolishness at hand. While I see the wages and benefits of our town employees as being a big an issue as any, I am tired of our politicians continually blaming the employees for all of our ills. Maybe the politicians should finally put some of the blame where it belongs, on themselves and their party machines. What costs us the most money is the rash, arrogant, ill thought out, uninformed, and reckless decisions from these entities.

    Hey gang, were tired of your same old rhetoric so put a sock in it already and start running this place like you want to fix it……..or get the hell out of office!

  55. 55 jezebel282

    Rex,

    “start running this place like you want to fix it”

    That’s what I was sorta hoping six months ago.

    Somehow, the blame for the BOE health insurance debacle is being turned onto the unions. They were sold on the HSA plan as being “equivalent” to the previous plan. Just like us.

    As for being a “Cadillac” plan, I would need a definition of “Cadillac” from someone. From what I hear, BOE employees making less than $40K/year were required to pony up $550 in cash as well as the copay for the premiums. In fact, a few had to withdraw completely from the plan because they simply couldn’t afford it.

    The teachers contractually will be taking a big hit on their premium copay this year. So the “Cadillac” seems to be a noisy gas guzzler.

  56. 56 jezebel282

    Rex,

    And another thing….

    “Mr. Catalano’s latest rant was a prime example of the foolishness at hand.”

    It is simply expedient to frame any argument by identifying good guys and bad guys. Politicians, by the way, are always the good guys.

    The reason there are strong unions for public workers is that politicians are the ones in charge. We saw, just as an example, for the last four years municipal employment was based upon whim, vengeance, influence and discrimination. Over 50 honest, hardworking employees were fired, laid off or forced out. All at a “cost saving” of zero.

    Not to divert the discussion but it makes one wonder whether 17 million people would have had their jobs destroyed had unions been stronger.

  57. 57 1george1

    Rex et al,

    While I do not absolve the unions for complicity, the blame belongs
    with the Town Councils / Town Managers / Labor Negotiators / Town
    Attorneys / Town Committees.

    Under the Tammany Hall system, if people voted for the party choices
    and worked for the party, and donated to the party, they would get
    jobs and places to live and other benefits ….

    Hmmm.

    Where could elected people find jobs for the FOP?

    Well If I want to rig votes, wouldn’t I want to control the police,
    town attorneys, state judges, state police, state attorneys and
    federal judges, police and attorneys?

    We need to find other jobs for relatives, mostly strapping men.
    Hmmm.
    We need full time fire fighters in our cities.

    We need to find other jobs for relatives, mostly women.
    Hmmm.
    Let’s create a school system.
    We will keep some dumb to be fodder for wars and to sell
    drugs and alcohol to, and Jr. HS / HS / College are ideal
    breeding groups for young savages.

    For the smarter ones who figure out the system and we can
    use, we will move them into government or business or military.

    90 % of the military are not combat vets. Most are in planning,
    operations, supply chain, and support.

    Those translate into useful skils in the private sector.

    Government people do not make anything. It’s not their job.
    The private sector makes things:
    Food; Industrial Products; clothing; Transportation; etc.
    The Agrarian / Hunter-gathered / Fishing grew
    Industrial production
    Finance and Services with Technology – Arts – Science

    Those were descibed in REAGAN ERA book the “3rd WAVE.”

    Wait we can get everything the private sector makes cheaper
    if we bring stuff from cheap labor foreign countries.
    MERCANTILISM and NAVIGATION ACTS became TRIANGLE TRADE
    MARSHALL PLAN foreign aid/dollar diplomacy > TRILATERAL COMM.

    Our government people still make nothing, but they are the ones
    who co-ordinate everything.

    200th Anniversary of Constitution in 1987, Stock Market crashes
    exposing SoViet vulnerability to crash of OIL / NATURAL GAS and
    PEACE = their main CASH for EXPORTS based on WAR.

    Same as movie “Lord of War” > 5 permanent UN Security Council
    members are the largest exporters of WEAPONS / MUNITIONS.

    NO MORE COLD WAR?

    What are we gonna do with all these WAR FACTORIES like AVCO
    and SIKORSKY and NEW LONDON SUB BASE.

    I got an idea!

    Let’s invade PANAMA.

    We won’t touch COLUMBIA where COCAINE is GROWN.
    We need to keep JUDGES, LAWYERS, POLICE well paid!

    OK – We got an ex-CIA flunky outta Panama.
    We gotta find another WAR.

    It can’t be a short one, as we need, to jack up OIL / GAS prices
    so countries can pay for weapons.

    We have been screwin around with IRAN / IRAQ / AFGHANISTAN

    Let’s use ex-CIA assets to piss off the USA people.
    When we kill them off, it will please our SO. VIET buddies and their
    stupid basterd civilians, who are even dumber than ours ….

    Wait …. we knocked off Panama too quick.
    We really gotta delay this thing …
    hmmmm

    I got it.
    We already softened up IRAQ and jacked up OIL prices once.
    Let’s invade n take over a WHOLE COUNTRY taking their OIL n
    NATUARL GAS off the Market.
    We can even make IRAN look crazy / dangerous n take their OIL
    n NATUARL GAS off the Market.

    We drive OIL / GAS / COAL product prices through the roof.
    Our companies make huge profits as well as WAR companies.

    We depress the rest of the world stock markets to buy them up
    with profits from WAR + OIL + GAS + DRUGS.

    Even better, we destroy the WALL STREET system and make the
    CORPORATE MANAGEMENT overpaid, like we over pay government
    UNIONS.

    Then the stupid citizens will be mad at UNION WORKERS, CORP
    MANAGEMENT, and we can use their abuses so SENATE / CONGRESS
    can pretend someone else is to blame?

    Meanwhile our MILITARY can use excuses to bomb, kill, and maim
    in the name of Defense, while they work with RUSSIA + CHINA +
    BRITAIN + FRANCE to consolidate control of all the WORLD.

    Hey – we got ours.

    We got mercenaries trained to replace the police / fire / teachers
    and the various business people …..

    $ 11,000 annually to educate stratford kid OR $ 60,000 annually for jail?
    $ 12,000 annually for a soldier OR $ 200,000 for Halliburton Mercenary?
    Improve pay / jobs everyone = higher tax base OR $ BILLION Corp Bribes?

    Hi ho, hi ho, off to steal we go
    Peoples life savings, nothing left to show!

    we lie, we cheat, we steal
    Do we worry about others’ meal?

    16 men on a dead man’s chest
    The 17th is laid to rest!

    Truth, Justice, and then there is the American Way
    While the suckers work hard, stealing is our play!

    I pleadge alligance to the flag
    With Liberty and Justice for … some .. what a drag!

  58. 58 ronmoreau

    Basic Accounting.

    The Matching Principle (1 of 4)

    This principle allows for real time analysis of the expenses and revenues. Using this principle will show just how well the business (town) has done financially and how effective it was.

    Although accounting theory is based on certain assumptions and the application of basic principles, there are exceptions to these assumptions and principles. These exceptions are called constraints, which sometimes justify departures from basic accounting theory.

    Industry practice constraint.

    Industry Practice Sometimes basic accounting theory is modified to meet the specific accounting and reporting needs of a defined industry group (e.g., accounting for financial institutions).”Or political party.”
    Referred to as “Industry Practices” or “Specialized Industry” accounting.

    It appears that this accounting constraint had been adopted years ago in Stratford.

    I guess Stratford is a “Specialized Industry”.

  59. 59 ronmoreau

    Or does it also have a “Specialize Industry”.

  60. 60 rex525

    Ron,
    “Or does it also have a Specialize Industry”.

    The local lawyers could argue that it does……funding them.
    I tend to agree.

  61. 61 1george1

    😦

  62. 62 ronmoreau

    Focu of this thread.

    Jez,
    “Yet again a budget has passed with no actual information provided to those who pay for the budget; Us. We have no information regarding actual costs, expenditures, liabilities or revenues. Apparently the Council believes we have no right to know. The budget “process” remains a municipal secret.”

    “Next year we will be able to compare this budget to the one that will be proposed with no knowledge of where any of this money actually went. Again.”

    A crazy deveation of basic accounting practises.

  63. 63 1george1

    foc U

    Seems to be the real answer to concerns about goo goos

  64. 64 ronmoreau

    OOps again,

    FocUS of this thread….

  65. 65 1george1

    Ron,

    I was teasing! 🙂

    I like the FOC U for the homonym effect. 😉

    Having opportunity to polk a little harmless fun, helps pass the day. 8)

    Pretty Day. TGIF!

  66. 66 ronmoreau

    George,

    What’s a Goo Goo?

  67. 67 1george1

    goo – goo = good government 🙂 8)

    as opposed to ga ga

    what the paparazzi were all calling to lady (in drag?) ga ga at an airport
    according to TMZ – Never get a clear view to see if ga ga has adams apple?

    TV – even cable TV is so bad, TMZ is sometimes a rare alternative.


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