Budget Freeze

16Dec15
Until the Budget Freezes Over?

Until the Budget Freezes Over?

The voters have selected a new Council and the political power has shifted mightily in Stratford. Through the will of its voters and the very hard work and expense of a few dozen citizens, Stratford no longer has a single political committee running everything.

The question now is what to do with that power. Let us keep things in perspective as well. Stratford contains 50,000 residents and is 98+% developed. No matter many hundreds of thousands of dollars we invest in an Economic Development Director we are not going to see any significant new development in Stratford. We would have to hire an army and conquer say, Shelton, for that to happen. Nonetheless, Stratford municipal government operates on a $200+ million/year budget. That, as every resident knows, is far too much to pay for what we get. There are far too many overpaid and under-worked administrators and staff in both the Town and BOE. There are far too many unjustified capital items in the budget. There are far too many legal expenses. There are far too many unnecessary perks given away in contracts and deals. Where to start?

We congratulate Councilman Dumas for making a start with a proposed hiring freeze. As we had mentioned, that effort would be mostly symbolic. We would suggest lopping off the low hanging fruit first. Convert the Town Attorney to a salaried position and pass around the bucket and collect the keys to all the Town owned cars.

A much more difficult effort that will cause a great deal of teeth gnashing and garment renting by Town/BOE employees would be to convert the Town Budget to a zero based budget. For the non-accountant readers among us, that simply means starting your budget with zero dollars and justifying the need and expense for every item instead of taking last year’s budget and seeing how much you can add. And that also means actually submitting and publishing a readable, understandable budget to the taxpayers (are you listening, BOE?).

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89 Responses to “Budget Freeze”

  1. Alas, we will wait until February to bring this back to the Council, as we passed this to the Ordinance Committee (which is ourselves, BTW)…but with the holiday—as I purposefully questioned at the meeting (even if i wasn’t sure how to do it—it was getting said) the meetings are the 4th week—-that’s Christmas week this month—so, no meeting. January’s Council meeting will come and go—and, alas, we will finally have the Ordinance meeting at the end of January—unless that pesky four-letter word intervenes, “S-N-O-W”—-no worries—it is only New England in January, I’m sure we have nothing to worry about, right? Then maybe my birthday wish will come true—Monday, February 1st….just maybe. Unless, beforehand, a real-life “Justice League” emerges…or maybe the Avengers is a better metaphor—the real question is who will emerge as Captain America?

  2. 2 jezebel282

    Tina,

    We certainly hope that you and your nine colleagues speak with each other more often than at Council meetings. And we also hope that discussions with constituents take place via a variety of media.

  3. 3 1cyclops

    Tina Marie – Disappointment with your post. You have a very serious problem in Stratford and it should be taken very seriously!

  4. 4 stfdprofessor1

    “who will emerge as Captain America?”

    Whoever has the courage to make sure the RIGHT things are done, not the politically expedient things. What “we the people” want is the fat trimmed from the budget, the excessive spending of the town attorney slashed, the lavish pay raises from the last two budgets reverted and all non essential personnel eliminated for a start.

    What we also deserve is an investigation into whether an inappropriate sexual relationship occurred between the mayor and a subordinate employee; as well as if that relationship led to an undeserved pay raise and increase in benefits (takes home car, etc) at OUR expense.

  5. 5 Rockannand

    Oh boy, i was waiting of this thread to start. 1cyclops, i think you misread Tina’s comment. I know she is taking it seriously, but she needs the others besides Mark Dumas and Mitzi to name two i know to jump in with both feet. More than a few eyebrows have been raised at the back room deal resulting In Beth has Council Chair and the shenanigans in the BOE that have Feehan as chair and Lenny C as Vice Chair. I guess that was to be expected, but what the DTC leadership does not realize is how transparent it all was. They think business as usual will cut it since it was the way of Lou the past 6 years and perhaps for 10-15 years or more. And making deals with Lou? AYFKM?

    Well, this WPCA referendum woke the masses up to what has been going on here for far too long and they don’t want business as usual. Many of the new councilman and woman got elected solely on the coattails of the WPCA referendum vote no campaign. I won’t name names, but that should be obvious to all, but some of them have already deluded themselves into believing otherwise and are already acting like they have some sort of mandate to do what they want to do.

    Wrong. If they don’t do what the people want them to do, they will be one and done come 2017. And those candidates and members of the DTC leadership who have visions of running for mayor in 2017, well … Don’t make me laugh.

    I am already hearing the grumbling all over town at what happened Monday night. This is our town and anyone in an elected position who thinks otherwise, regardless of part affiliation will hear about it here and elsewhere if they start playing the games we’ve seen the past 6 years. I think this Council will be on a very short leash with the public if they drag their feet with this budget gap and stray from the reason we had this revolt at the polls in November that got them elected.

    We will be watching closely. No games and backroom deals.

  6. 6 Rockannand

    “What we also deserve is an investigation into whether an inappropriate sexual relationship occurred between the mayor and a subordinate employee; as well as if that relationship led to an undeserved pay raise and increase in benefits (takes home car, etc) at OUR expense.:

    Std Prof, that is a waste of time IMHO. He broke no laws. The real short term focus has to be on stopping Harkins from spending the money that can be cut between now and June30th to make a dent in the gap BEFORE the next budget cycle happens. If you remember back in October 3rd district Councilman Philips laid out how to cut the $5.1mm gap by $3mm in the current cycle and the remaining amount in next cycle to avoid big cuts/ layoffs in the admin and BOE.

    What i heard and saw Monday and am hearing this week is that the new Council will not meet in time to address a spending freeze and take action in time. Read between the lines in Yesterday’s Star article and ask yourself if our new Council Chairwoman sounds like someone who is moving fast to take action that reigns in spending now.

  7. Rest assured, I take it all very seriously and we will and do talk to each other. However, in the interest of transparency and engagement, I believe the public deserves to see it all. The process of taking action has been extended, and I firmly believe this was unnecessary. Right now, the decision to hire and reduce spending under the current budget (which still accounts for the sale of the WPCA) rests within the hands of town hall. Now, we can only HOPE they will do what we could not, until we get another chance to get it done. It seems unlikely, but I refuse to give up That people will do the right thing. We had an opportunity as a council, and we did not take it. Just this week someone was hired–in the midst of a self-imposed hiring freeze…??? Like you, I’m disappointed as well. The only power I have comes from the public. Therefore, against the advice of many, I continue to reach out and talk in social media to my neighbors. My comments may and probably will be used against me—so be it. You are worth it. Stratford is worth it. I fear, based on comments both at the meeting and in the newspaper this week, that without real pressure from you—John Q. Public, little will happen. I have to try. Merry Christmas!

  8. 8 jezebel282

    Tina Marie,

    “Just this week someone was hired–in the midst of a self-imposed hiring freeze…???”

    We are not sure what qualifications if any Rich Fredette has for the position of “Blight Officer” other than the creation of lawn sign blight before the voters rejected both the WPCA sale and Rich Fredette. But the Town certainly didn’t post this job on the taxpayers’ website. And we don’t recall any interviews taking place.

    And herein lies the problem. No one trusts the Town Administration nor the BOE. Primarily because the Town Administration and BOE keep doing things that they either said they wouldn’t do or things that everyone knows they shouldn’t do.

    If you are looking for credibility, no resident or business will bother looking for it at 2725 Main St or 1000 East Broadway. It hasn’t been there for at least eleven years. When the newly elected Council kicked the ball 60+ days into the future, the voters who worked to get them their seats were mightily disappointed.

    The voters cannot tolerate the same old back room deals that have passed for government any longer. Every Council Person’s vote counts. That means all of you (No, not you Tina.) showing up at Council meetings, Committee meetings and answering constituents. That doesn’t mean smiling until the problem goes away either. The time for the application of grease in the way of tax dollars, contracts, jobs, perks and approvals is past. It is also not the time for vengeance or retribution. It is time to make the decisions that are in the best interests of Stratford’s 50,000+ residents and the businesses that want to remain.

    Stratford can be that place where people want to live and work. We need honest leadership to take us to that place. Which one of you Council members want to be that leader?

  9. Conquering Shelton might be easier than turning the horses on a political stampede. Since the selection of the chairwoman, and all the attendant steps involved, it seems pretty obvious that the plan is for business as usual, only from the other side. What can we do to create change?

  10. 10 stfdprofessor1

    “Std Prof, that is a waste of time IMHO. He broke no laws. The real short term focus has to be on stopping Harkins from spending the money that can be cut between now and June30th to make a dent in the gap BEFORE the next budget cycle happens.”

    I guess stuffing taxpayer funds in your girlfriend’s panties is legal then??? Want to stop Harkins from spending money, shine a bright disinfecting light on him and his abhorrent behavior, I’m sure he will slither away and no longer be in office to spend ANY of our tax money. I respectfully disagree on your assessment Rock, exposing corruption is never a waste of time…HOWEVER…

    “I am already hearing the grumbling all over town at what happened Monday night. This is our town and anyone in an elected position who thinks otherwise, regardless of part affiliation will hear about it here and elsewhere if they start playing the games we’ve seen the past 6 years. I think this Council will be on a very short leash with the public if they drag their feet with this budget gap and stray from the reason we had this revolt at the polls in November that got them elected. We will be watching closely. No games and backroom deals.”…ON THIS I COULDN’T AGREE WITH YOU MORE!!!

  11. 11 stfdprofessor1

    We are not sure what qualifications if any Rich Fredette has for the position of “Blight Officer” other than the creation of lawn sign blight before the voters rejected both the WPCA sale and Rich Fredette.

    I guess you never drove past his old towing and body shop on Stratford Av. then Jez.

  12. 12 jezebel282

    Prof,

    “I guess stuffing taxpayer funds in your girlfriend’s panties is legal then???”

    Apparently it is just as legal as stealing your sewer fees:
    “Sec. 7-267. Use of funds. All benefit assessments and charges for connection with or use of the sewerage system, whether pledged for payment of bonds or notes or otherwise, shall be kept separate from other funds of the municipality and shall be used for the sewerage system, including the payment of debt incurred for the sewerage system and interest thereon, and for no other purpose.”

  13. 13 jezebel282

    Kathleen,

    “What can we do to create change?”

    We had been willing to give this Council the benefit of the doubt. After all they’ve only met once.

    That is until we discovered that having been a Councilman for barely a week, Joe Gresko has already decided it is not the place he wants to be.

    Joe Gresko, councilman and legislative aide, seeks Backer’s seat
    By: Mark Pazniokas | December 21, 2015
    http://ctmirror.org/2015/12/21/joe-gresko-councilman-and-legislative-aide-to-seek-backers-seat/

    To be frank, the budget for 2015/2016 passed six months ago. A few dollars here and there are all that can be expected to be saved. We certainly don’t anticipate any cooperation from Harkins or his boys Dillon and Ciccarelli. We can also count on the Chiefs and Directors to fight to maintain their bloated budgets and perks. We’re sure the Town will burn down if they don’t get to take their Town-supplied cars home every night.

    It will be in the 2016/2017 budget that we will see this Council’s results. We will be able to tell which direction this Council will take the Town in January when they begin the budget process. If the Council institutes a zero based budget, that is a very good sign. If they convert the Town Attorney to a salaried position that is even better. They could also eliminate a few positions like Mayor’s Girlfriend (Happy, Prof?) and claw back some raises. Who knows? The Council might even demand a readable budget from the BOE!

    But if they stay silent until then they will see the huge amount of support they now enjoy wither away to nothing. We need to hear from Daponte, Harden, Chase and the rest. Sadly, we have just heard from Gresko.

  14. 14 missgreeneyes118

    There are a lot of places to save you need the will to do it.

    A ” Blight Officer ” really.

    The bigger joke is the 2 full time registrars :

    “Connecticut’s chief elections official Denise Merrill, who’s elected by the people, is proposing to do away with elected registrars in favor of one serving that role as an appointed official. In a news release, Merrill says “Connecticut is the only state in the country that leaves election administration to two partisan locally elected officials.”

    It is up to all of us in the next budget cycle to curtail the madness because there is always something you don’t see

  15. 15 jezebel282

    Or maybe have an actual choice instead of this one and this one even if you don’t vote?

  16. 16 jezebel282

    Best wishes to those who are making sure the Administration ‘s chestnuts are properly roasted.

  17. 17 Rockannand

    “But if they stay silent until then they will see the huge amount of support they now enjoy wither away to nothing. We need to hear from Daponte, Harden, Chase and the rest. Sadly, we have just heard from Gresko.”

    Jez if they institute a zero-based budget that forces each dept to justify their spend, they should be able to cut the 2016-2017 budget by 10% without much trouble. I would go so far as to say there is more like 15%plus fat in the admin budget. Lots of squawking? Yes, but trouble no. That 10% would come from the Admin budget of about $100-110mm which would account for the gap for current and next year.

    I think someone told me we have not one but TWO 100 ft firetrucks with no buildings over 65′ and still have a $550K water pumper order to support those albatross firetrucks. Also, isn’t the BOE chair James Feehan, also the
    President at New England Fire Equipment & Apparatus where we bought the latest 100′ fire truck with a no-bid contract of over $850K? Who authorized that no-bid purchase? If memory serves meI saw where Feehan’s company donated generously to the YES PAC and i believe to Harkins mayoral campaign in access of the $400 threshold where he would need to disclose his company’s contractual relationship with the town, but may not have. Can you say pay to play?

    Further, I don’t agree the total budget for BOE is too high, just mis-allocated. Too many high priced admins (read: non-teachers) doing too little. Our cost per student is average for our district (which is West Haven, Naugutuck, etc).

    I am trusting that Council Chairman Daponte will dig into these details and expose these questionable business practices and quid pro quo relationships that exist with a number of businesses who have donated generously to the Mayor and other political action committees like YES and have received contracts in excess of $1mm the past few years.

    Didn’t Bridgeport Fittings give $5k to the YES PAC and to Harkins in exchange for some favorable grant credits from the town? Now we all know these sorts of “dealings” go on everyday in town’;s like Stratford, but they should be made public since they are a matter of public record that some of us have been to uncover without much effort. Funny how Melvin and the Star and Burgeson and the CTPost do not find these “relationships” to be newsworthy.

  18. 18 mikereynolds

    Man you are really hung up on a ladder truck not doing double duty as a water pumper.

  19. 19 Rockannand

    No Mike, I’m hung up on extravagant purchases that make no sense when we have a $5mm budget hole. Are you saying those “investments” are justified? Are you saying that it is perfectly logical for the quid pro quo between Feehan’s company and the town for the fire trucks?

  20. 20 mikereynolds

    Henry,

    I agree about the purchases and Feehan…I get it.

    But you continue to go back to the point about the new ladder truck not pumping its own water and its just silly. We’ve been over this. Most ladder trucks don’t pump their own water.

  21. 21 jezebel282

    Mike,

    Maybe Rock thinks that for $1.1 million in cash it should come with water….and maybe three bathrooms w/jacuzzi.

    Or maybe he’s wondering if we couldn’t have just refurbished the 100ft tower we already have. Why do we need two 100 ft towers anyway?

    That’s as silly as buying a $400,000 boat that costs $1,200 just to fill the tank. Oh! Wait a minute! We did!

  22. 22 ronmoreau

    I seem to recall the town bought a ladder truck years ago and it didn’t fit into the firehouse so they built a new firehouse to pit it in. Hope that doesn’t happen again.

  23. The new Council can instruct the Fire Chief, the two Deputy Chiefs, the five Assistant Chiefs, Captains and Lieutenants to divest the Town of these unnecessary toys they saw fit to burden the taxpayers with, even if it means parking some of them at Feehan’s house. Then I would like to see the Council restructure the Fire Department so that it is less top-heavy

  24. And less political.

  25. 25 jezebel282

    Maybe we can at least get the take-home cars back?

  26. 26 jezebel282

    But speaking of politics, what we really need is a Director of Public Safety to direct the $108,000/year police chief, fire chief and EMS Director. Just what we need with a budget deficit!

  27. 27 stfdprofessor1

    Director of public safety??? Don’t give them any more ideas Jez…I can see it now, a public safety director over the fire chief, who’s over the two deputy fire chiefs, who’s over the five assistant chiefs, who’s over the twenty captins and lieutenents, who’s over the guys that ACTUALLY put the fire out (when they’re not riding around in their million dollar boat that costs $1,200 to fill with gas).

    Heck they need those two million dollar ladder pumpers just to help drive those supervisors around.

    Geeze I wonder WHY we are 5 million in the hole (and climbing quick by the sound of it)…then there’s the town attorney budget that spins up like the wheel of fortune and the mayors girlfriend developing our economy for over 100,000 a year (plus a new couch and car).

    Are we ready to return to a professional TOWN MANAGER yet kids???

  28. 28 jezebel282

    If the rumor that Tim Bishop is out and they are sticking another body in the office from Berchem Moses & Devlin then Ms. DaPonte has some ‘splaining to do.

  29. I don’t understand why Ms. DaPonte needs to explain why Stratford is now a wholly owned subsidiary of Berchem, Moses, and Devlin.

  30. 30 shanliss

    Jez–
    Everyone reading this blog already knows about the Town Attorney & CAO personnel moves…and that they are both politically motivated. Why, just the ink alone that will be spilled in the Star by Mulligan letters mentioning “Berchem, Moses & Devlin” would be enough to supply the Stratford Bard, if it were still publishing. What’s needed here is some old-fashioned shaming, of the Mayor’s intransigence, the Council Chair’s arrogance, and the shortsightedness of the DTC, that wholly-owned subsidiary of the RTC, the latter of which is probably laughing all the way to the (Milford) Bank. Both the Star and the Post will probably run profiles of the new incumbents of these two positions, when they should be running editorials questioning the wisdom of the moves themselves.

  31. 31 jezebel282

    LeftRight,

    If we recall correctly, the Town Attorney must be approved by the Council. Yet another partner from Berchem Moses & Devlin would be a large insult to the taxpayer.

    Now, maybe it is Monsieurs Marcone and Petrucelli returning some favors to Rich Buturla, but it is DaPonte who will be blamed for weak leadership. And rightly so.

  32. 32 Rockannand

    Agenda: Budget Workshops (open to public)

    Tuesday, January 7 5:30­-9
    5:30­-5:35: Opening, purpose of Workshop
    5:40­-5:55: Presentation of Finance Director on status of revenues and expenditures of FY16 budget
    5:55­-6:05: Office of the Mayor
    6:05­-6:10: Town Council/Clerk
    6:10­-6:20: Human Resources
    6:20­-6:35: Town Attorney
    6:35­-6:40: CAO
    6:40­-6:45: Registrar of Voters
    6:45­-6:50: Town Clerk
    6:50­-7:00: Town Buildings
    7:00­-7:15: Agencies
    7:15­-7:25: Planning and Zoning
    7:25­-7:35: IT
    7:35­-7:50: Contingency
    7:50­-7:55: Finance Administration, Finance Accounting and Treasury, Finance Purchasing
    7:55­-8:05: Tax Assessment, Tax Collector
    8:05-­8:10: Community Services
    8:10­-8:15: Health Department
    8:15­-8:25: Recreation Division
    8:25­-8:35: Senior Services
    8:35­-8:40: Other Human Development
    8:40­-8:50: Economic Development
    8:50­-8:55: Visiting Nurses
    8:55­-9: Short Beach Division

    Thursday, January 7, 7­-10:30
    7­-7:15 PW Administration
    7:15­-7:25: Building Inspections Division
    7:25­-7:35: Public Building Maintenance Division
    7:35­-7:45: PW Engineering Division
    7:45­-7:55: Public Highways Division
    7:55­-8:05: Town Garage Division
    8:05­-8:10: Parks Division
    8:10­-8:20: PW Refuse/ecycling Division
    8:20­-8:30: Fire Administration
    8:30­-8:40: Fire Suppression
    8:40­-8:50: Fire Prevention
    8:50­-9: Communication Center
    9­-9:10: Police Administration
    9:10-­9:20: Police Investigation and Patrol
    9:20­-9:30: Police Records
    9:30­-9:40: Police Traffic & Professional Standards
    9:40-­9:50: Board of Education
    9:50­-10: WPCA
    10­-10:10: Short Beach Golf Course
    10:10­-10:20: Railroad
    10:20­-10:30: Harbor Fund
    10:30­-10:35: EMS

    Don’t forget the popcorn.

  33. 33 Rockannand

    “But you continue to go back to the point about the new ladder truck not pumping its own water and its just silly. We’ve been over this. Most ladder trucks don’t pump their own water.”

    Mike, I get it. Regardless, we should sell both of those trucks (or at least one of them) since we DON’T NEED them.

  34. 34 missgreeneyes118

    The new ladder truck may not be able to pump it’s own water, but it can sure pump out a lot of overtime.
    Just like the new boat – which came with a boatload of overtime.
    I guess ANY fiscal responsibility or constraint has gone up in flames for us taxpayers.

    What ever happened to common sense spending and budgets?
    In the old days you had to live in town to work for the town.
    At least you would feel the pain for budget increases you create – like the other taxpayers.
    Maybe you would think twice about frivolous expenditures if you were paying more too.

    How about any town supervisor who submits a budget has to live in town?

    Or if your department’s budget goes up by 4% ..your salary increase/bonus goes down by 4%?

    What a concept.

    Hit ’em in the wallet..or purse.

  35. 35 missgreeneyes118

    Again the town council and other positions such as Board of Ed, Zoning, Town Attorney are sadly just another form of political musical chairs.
    Same people in different positions? Again?
    OK, maybe a few new people elected, but are the same puppeteers pulling the strings from behind the scenes?
    And it seems some of the elected may be new to the council – but still part of the old party regimes – the old guard?
    Is the new Town Attorney from the firm of a former councilman at large?
    Who has made millions of dollars from the Town? And continues to do so?
    No new ideas.
    No new methods.
    No new thinking.
    Seems neither party wants any real change – just a lot of window dressing – while the taxpayers still get fleeced.
    The budget may not be frozen, but it seems the town is frozen by the same old rhetoric and money grabs.
    Blame the other guy for high taxes.
    But why is it neither party seems to want to do anything to control spending?
    Especially after the election is over.

  36. 36 jezebel282

    Greeneyes,

    We agree. But we want to go another step. While lining your pocket ( like a Town Attorney) or expanding your kingdom by having more stuff ( like a Fire Chief) may be crass goals they have a serious negative effect on the 50,000 people who live here.

    Unnecessary, frivolous and greedy increases in taxes mean that young couples cannot afford to buy homes here, parents have less to spend on their children and seniors have a more difficult time buying medications and food.

    By not controlling and reducing the budget the Council is sentencing us to a lesser future than we earned.

  37. 37 Rockannand

    “We agree. But we want to go another step. While lining your pocket ( like a Town Attorney) or expanding your kingdom by having more stuff ( like a Fire Chief) may be crass goals they have a serious negative effect on the 50,000 people who live here.”

    Jez, yes but without a change in leadership of both parties, meaning kicking Lenny and Lou out of their chairmanship positions, the obvious pot stirring by Tina and Mark Dumas will be needed to thwart the old ways of the old party regimes that are focused on themselves vs solving the fiscal problems in town. The change we saw the second half of 2015 will stall without a revolt within the parties now to throw out the old guard and the do-nothings.

    Miss Greeneyes, I don’t agree that there are no new ideas, thinking and methods. Rather i see the problem as whether the change agents and supporters who emerged in 2015 have the stomach and will to take on those within their parties and recently elected who are part of the problem. Who wants to fight the bullies and money interests? Its obviously an unpopular path to follow because the old guard are already spreading lies and smearing those who are trying to do the right thing.

    We will see real quick what direction these parties intend to go.

  38. 38 missgreeneyes118

    Those who ignore history are doomed to repeat it

    http://www.ctd.uscourts.gov/sites/default/files/opinions/020305.SRU_.Feehan.pdf

    James E. Feehan, after being arrested, sued Paul M. Lengyel, whose investigation led to the arrest; Stephen Sedensky, the prosecutor who procured the warrant for the arrest; David Best, Lengyel’s supervisor; and the State of Connecticut. Feehan alleges violations of section 1983 and the Connecticut State Constitution. All the individual defendants move to dismiss all claims against them in their official capacities as barred by the Eleventh Amendment. Sedensky moves to dismiss all claims against him as barred by absolute prosecutorial immunity. Best moves to dismiss the section 1983 claims against him for failure to allege personal involvement. I agree with the individual defendants, and all claims moved against are dismissed
    The following facts, accepted as true for the purpose of this motion, are alleged in the complaint. In March 2000, Patricia Kronenberg, a member of the town council of Stratford, filed a complaint with the Stratford Police Department alleging that Feehan, also a member of the town council, had told her that if his company did not get a certain contract with the town, he would not vote with her on a particular issue.
    In October 2000, Sedensky, a state prosecutor, filed an application in Superior Court for a warrant to arrest Feehan, supported by an affidavit signed by Lengyel. The affidavit did not disclose potentially exculpatory evidence, though both Lengyel and Sedensky were aware the evidence existed. As a result of Sedensky’s application, a warrant issued, and Feehan was arrested.

  39. 39 jezebel282

    We had forgotten about that one. And look! Now he’s the Chairman of the BOE with a $100+ MILLION budget. What could possibly go wrong? Yay!

  40. 40 missgreeneyes118

    Perhaps it would be best to have a new tower truck and a new pumper stationed at each school?
    That is instant response to any emergency at the schools.
    BAM!
    I wonder if Jim Feehan will give a multi-truck discount to the Town?
    Or did Pat Kronenberg move back into town?

  41. 41 stfdprofessor1

    FOLLOW THE MONEY!!! If anyone can’t see that both parties are in cahoots to fleece the town treasury they are BLIND!

    Stratford has always been corrupt but a professional Town manager being quasi apolitical was part of the checks and balances that the old system had which slowed the speed the town treasury could be raided.

    With a political figure like a mayor there is NO regulation of this raiding. This is why the town attorney’s office has turned into a litigation factory. Tim Bishop a DTC member is appointed town attorney in a RTC controlled administration and the parties are not in cahoots??? Give me a break!!!!!

    Now a republican mayor AGAIN appoints a lawyer from(Berchem, Moses & Devli) with strong DTC ties to replace Tim Bishop and people can think both parties are not in cahoots.

    I may be old but I’m not too senile to see the only way to save this town is TWO MORE REFERENDUMS, 1) to revert the charter to the last version where we had a town manager AND 2) another referendum to hire a salaried full time town attorney!!!

    In the time being hold onto your wallets because the litigation factory is REALLY going to be churning out the work!!!!!!

    I predict an announcement of a revised 8-10 MILLION dollar defecit.

  42. 42 jezebel282

    Prof,

    It is clear that voters are just not angry enough to petition for rescinding the current charter. ..yet.

    Not to worry though. Neither this new Council nor the mayor ( OK, especially the mayor) are doing or saying anything that would make any voter less angry.

  43. 43 jezebel282

    Our new favorite website!

    http://www.openstratford.com/

  44. 44 Rockannand

    Mine too. Now if we can get Tina to do her version we will stereo content form both sides of the aisle.

  45. Greetings! Unfortunately, I do not have a video of the workshop. Sorry 😦 I did take copious notes and plan to scan and upload my thoughts after tonight.

  46. 46 jezebel282

    No problem, Ms. Manus. Hopefully those thoughts include revoking the license to bill issued to the Town Attorney.

  47. 47 jezebel282

    Worthy of a repost:
    List of Town Employees with Take Home Vehicles
    MARK DUMAS JANUARY 7, 2016
    Courtesy of Town Council Chair Beth Daponte and Acting CAO Larry Cicacareli: the Town Employees with take home cars list.

    From: Catherine Hausmann
    Date: Tue, Jan 5, 2016 at 3:21 PM
    Subject: Take Home Vehicle List
    To: B Daponte , lciccarelli@townofstratford.com

    Beth,

    Larry has asked that I send over the list of the take home vehicles – please let me know if there is anything else you need.

    Name Department Position
    Mayor Harkins Mayor Mayor
    CAO Chief Administrative Officer
    Karen Kaiser Econ. Devel. Director of Economic Development
    Brian Donovan Building Building Official
    Mike Loiz EMS EMS/Dispatch Director
    Chief McGrath Fire Dept. Fire Chief
    Deputy Chief Gottfried Fire Dept. Deputy Fire Chief
    Deputy Chief Lampart Fire Dept. Deputy Fire Chief
    Deputy Fire Marshal Daniel Fire Dept. Deputy Fire Marshal
    Deputy Fire Marshal Minton Fire Dept. Deputy Fire Marshal
    Capt. Atkinson Fire Dept. Training Captain
    Chief Ridenhour Police Dept. Police Chief
    Deputy Chief McNeil Police Dept. Deputy Police Chief
    Capt. DosSantos Police Dept. Police Captain
    Officer T. Clements Police Dept. Police Officer
    Officer C. Goode Police Dept. Police Officer
    Officer R. Crosby Police Dept. Police Officer
    Maurice McCarthy Public Works Director of Public Works
    Daniel Wakeling Public Works Superintendent of Building Maintenance
    Tina Batoh Public Works Environmental Conservation Administrator
    Thomas Albert Public Works Highway Superintendent
    Chad Esposito Public Works Parks Superintendent
    Raynae Serra Public Works Operations Coordinator
    Gary Catalano Public Works Superintendent of Refuse & Town Garage
    Peter Stallings Public Works Superintendent of WPCA
    Caroline Hamilla Public Works Process Control Supervisor
    John Casey Public Works Town Engineer

  48. 48 jezebel282

    Editors note:

    Actually Jermaine Atkinson is still a Lieutenant at Lordship, he will not be a Captain until Monday when Lance Edwards retires and Camperlengo is promoted to Assistant Chief.
    It appears they are trying to cover current Captain Camperlengo who is getting $106,000.00 as training Captain (including his stipend) PLUS a take home vehicle.
    We have on good account that they are pressuring LT Atkinson to let Camperlengo keep his Asst. Emergency Manager stipend after he is promoted to A/C (totally unheard of) ***note- Camperlengo is D/C Jon (vote yes-pay less) Gottfried’s partner in crime.

  49. 49 mikereynolds

    Way, way, way too many take home vehicles. Why the hell does Karen Kaiser need a car? Most of the others don’t need it either…drive to work, use a town vehicle for town business and then take your own car home. Ridiculous.

  50. 50 jezebel282

    Mike,

    Considering most of these poor downtrodden supervisors, Chiefs and Directors make at least six figures (Do we even know how many tax dollars they stuff in their pockets?) how can we expect them to pay for their own cars and gas to get to their very important job where they don’t live or pay taxes.

    Gives new meaning to “car sick”.

  51. 51 stfdprofessor1

    “Why the hell does Karen Kaiser need a car?”

    If it has a back seat perhaps the same reason she has a couch in her office.

  52. 52 missgreeneyes118

    Town cars should not be allowed to be taken home if the person lives more than 20 miles outside the town limits.
    If the person lives further away – it is not a benefit to the taxpayers to have them coming from so far away to get to an emergency – an hour or more later.

    Most of the people who have a take home car get overtime pay for any extra time they have to respond to an emergency.
    So it’s not like they are doing taxpayers a favor by working extra time.

    It is just a waste of Town resources to be paying for such a long commute.
    Why can’t they find a place in Town on their $100,000 plus salaries?
    Lots of residents have to survive on half of that.

  53. We have been getting fleeced by this Administration. What ever happened to using your own vehicle and getting reimbursed for your mileage?

  54. 54 missgreeneyes118

    Has our spending watchdog mayor reviewed the huge expenditures for the Town Attorneys and squeezed them to reduce costs?
    Or is the status quo good enough?
    It would seem that you could find some savings in such a large budget, no?

    I think we just need to see an itemized breakdown of monies paid to the Town Attorneys for the past 5 years.
    What is the hourly rate?
    Or is it too obscene of an amount to reveal ?
    Then we may be better able to understand what value they provide to us taxpayers.
    Also a cost of litigation for the major cases along with cash settlements and/or judgements against the town would be very enlightening.
    How do the numbers compare with surrounding towns?
    No need to violate privacy agreements.
    I am not looking for names of those litigants or attorneys who were enriched at taxpayers expense.
    Please – just how many dollars has it been costing us each year

  55. 55 stfdprofessor1

    “Human resources and Town Attorney negative expenditure variances of $193 thousand and $200 thousand due to bargaining contracts and WPCA legal matters. Overall employee benefits had a negative variance of $2.171 million”

    WHAT???

    Sorta kinda paints a picture of GROSS INCOMPETENCE in the human resources department and a LITIGATION FACTORY in the the town atty’s office.

  56. 56 stfdprofessor1

    …and screw the cars, in the bigger picture that’s peanuts. When are we eliminating the non essential positions, the excessive stipents and reducing those HUGE pay raises others in the Administration received (back to levels more in line with the recession we taxpayers have been living with)???

  57. If you check all the vehicles I think you will find that Fire Chief McGrath is allowing his newest Assistant Fire Chief to take home a car as well. Yes, this is Jon Gottfried’s boy mentioned above. How many others are taking cars home on the sly? Now with most of the town take home vehicles unlimited personal use is allowed. I hope the employee and town are reporting this benefit to the IRS.

  58. 58 stfdprofessor1

    Hey gregcove you must be a fireman, if you are could you tell us if this is correct or not.

    “But you continue to go back to the point about the new ladder truck not pumping its own water and its just silly. We’ve been over this. Most ladder trucks don’t pump their own water.”

    Well do they or not??? Can you help these fellows settle this argument, I’m getting curious myself.

  59. 59 missgreeneyes118

    When it comes to fire fighting we are told over and over that “seconds count”.
    Then why do we give take home vehicles to fire department personnel who live out of town?
    By the time they respond the critical part of the incident is over.

    The cars may not be a huge expense, but it perpetuates the culture of entitlement, not austerity.
    Why don’t these department heads come back with money saving ideas rather than money grabs for bigger trucks and increased staffing?
    It seems like the FD has more “Chiefs” than other local departments of similar size.
    Why?
    Oh, and by the way – Deputy Chief Gottfried – my homeowners insurance rates have not gone down yet.
    When should I expect that decrease?
    Have you notified the area insurance carriers?
    Wish I had a stipend from my job to cover the cost.

  60. Hey prof! Not a fireman but a fire buff with a couple close friends who are firemen. I will answer your question on ladder trucks the best I can based on the books I have collected on firetrucks. Years ago they were called ladder trucks because that was all they carried. There were also hose wagons called such because that was all they carried. Then there were the engines that just pumped water. As times progressed and firetrucks got larger with bigger motors the manufactures started marketing a truck that could do more than one thing. Engines and ladders started carrying hose. That is why we no longer see hose wagons in fire stations. Then manufacturers stared putting pumps on ladder trucks thus eliminating the need of an additional engine to pump the water. Modern ladder trucks, other than those in large cities, usually have the ladder, with hose and a pump. A truck that can do 3 jobs not just one but the name has stuck for all trucks that have aerial ladders no matter what else they can do. They also still call trucks pumpers even though the modern versions also carry hose and some ladders. Hope this clears things up a little for you.

  61. There is so much low hanging fruit where the Council could make budget cuts that their biggest problem might be where to start. Obviously, stipends and take home cars are a beginning. I’m all for untangling the morass in the Fire Department but first I would begin with Economic Development which is symbolic of an Administration run amok. The Economic Development Director has stated that she is the lowest paid of the neighboring towns of Milford, Trumbull, and Fairfield (where the Director also serves as the Community Development Director). Based on my research, I disagree, but I would contend that she is the least qualified and achieved her position in the least competitive process. Further, the supervisor in that department was on record as being “all in on regionalization” of the WPCA where many town employees would have lost their jobs. The result of this cavalier attitude toward others is that the individual now should not have any problem understanding why her job no longer exists.

  62. 62 missgreeneyes118

    So a ladder truck could also have a pump?
    Interesting.
    More cost effective?
    Probably.
    By appearing to need different and dedicated trucks for each job – then it would also appear that more manpower is needed due to dedicated crews for each truck.
    But is it really what it appears to be?
    The fire chiefs clamor for more trucks, more overtime, more manpower, bigger headquarters.. but is it all really necessary?
    Isn’t the real work load in the EMS and paramedic work?

  63. 63 jezebel282

    Green,

    EMS has responded to nearly 7,000 calls this year. That’s a 27 year high, by the way. The EMS Director, Michael Loiz posts this data every month. The FD are listed as Stratford’s “First Responders” and therefore should technically respond to every emergency. That’s why FD list medical calls as the majority of their responses. Are they handled by FD? Personally, I would rather have our heart attack or stroke handled by the guy/girl with the stethoscope not the one with the hose. But that’s just us.

    On the other hand, there are three or four structure fires every year. We assume with the two 100ft tower ladders, engines, pumpers, tactical vehicle, boats and take home cars the FD should be able to handle them.

  64. 64 stfdprofessor1

    “Then manufacturers stared putting pumps on ladder trucks thus eliminating the need of an additional engine to pump the water. Modern ladder trucks, other than those in large cities, usually have the ladder, with hose and a pump”

    Sounds to me like the taxpayers are getting FLIM FLAMMED, thanks for the info gregcove. Do you know if our fire department always have ladder trucks without pumps on them???

  65. 65 stfdprofessor1

    “On the other hand, there are three or four structure fires every year. We assume with the two 100ft tower ladders, engines, pumpers, tactical vehicle, boats and take home cars the FD should be able to handle them. ”

    It sounds to me like someone is cooking the books!!!!

  66. Jez, I enjoy visiting all the firehouses around the area. Must say though the Stratford Boyz got the nicest Toys. Could understand the buying for awhile since the town hadn’t replaced any fire trucks. Got a copy of a picture of 3 fire trucks in HQ and none say Stratford. As a buff I love toys but in reality its getting to a point where it seems like the chief is just spending money to spend it. The toys are nice but some will never be used. Seems like he has a checkbook that can’t be overdrawn. Suprizing the town isn’t deeper in the hole. But the guys sure like him and so does the union. Something has to be said for maintaining a happy work force.

  67. 67 jezebel282

    Greg,

    Unlimited overtime, take home cars, every holiday known to man, all new toys, boats and all those vehicle lockouts and fuel spills to deal with? Who wouldn’t be happy?

    4 structure fires per year works out to a mere $4 million each with FD’s budget.

  68. Prof, Checked my photo collection and it appears the 2 previous “ladders” have pumps on them. You can go to Huntington Rd or Oranoqe Ln and see for yourself. The trucks are stored there as spare trucks. I have a photo of an earlier tower ladder and from the photo I can definitely see that there was a pump on it.

  69. 69 missgreeneyes118

    A medical call that is handled by EMS should be only counted as an EMS call.
    The Fire Department shouldn’t be counting the same incident as a fire response too.
    If you separate out the medical calls handled by the EMS – it will be more clear as to who provides the majority of services to the community.
    And how much revenue does the EMS services net?
    Fire?

  70. 70 jezebel282

    EMS generates a little under $3 million from insurance billing. That is the only source of EMS revenue. You can’t count cookies & donuts from grateful citizens. From that Town Hall takes $50,000/year in “rent” for the land the EMS building is on. That is because EMS paid for the building. Town Hall also takes $400,000/year because they can. The expense to taxpayers and businesses is zero. Even with a blend of paid and volunteer staff.

    FD’s budget depends on whether or not you include 100ft tower ladders and pumper trucks. $14 million with overtime…so far. $16 million with the trucks.

  71. 71 stfdprofessor1

    Seems to me the boyz with the toyz are spending quite a bit of our $$$$$$$$$. If the chief is spending money just to spend it you would think he’d have bought a ladder pumper and saved us on the price of another pumper engine. I hope the new town council looks into this and sees just how many fire calls there are.

    I watched all the videos on the budget workshops and was wondering why the fire chief looked so smug, maybe the new council should ask him what the hell is going on!!!! Thanks for the info gregcove…very enlightening!!!

    Perhaps it’s time for a paid EMS and a volunteer FD???

  72. 72 Rockannand

    OK, clearly the FD needs a haircut and reprimand for overspending on very expensive toys, BUT ….

    One department that no one has mentioned that needs attention is the Registrar of Voters. in April 2014 our registrars got 110% raises when their part time positions were made full-time. We still have 2 asst registrars that do most of the day-to-day work, but those upgrades to FT positions was totally unjustified and was political payback to Lou for his support of Harkins’s reelection campaign. The argument given by the DEMs for nt challenging that gross over-spend of taxpayer money is that it will hurt Rock Marcone. Sorry. Two wrongs don’t make a right.

    So now, i have yet to hear that our new Council chairman or any DEMs on the Council are focused on rolling back those salaries. If the DEMs on the Council do not address this and make cuts in the Registrars office, than it will be clear that they are playing favorites in this budget review.

    May i remind this newly elected Council that in April 2014 the salary increases of non-union employees was the one item repeatedly discussed that was what was wrong with that and subsequent budgets. And that the 110% raises for the registrars was the most galling to taxpayers.

  73. 73 missgreeneyes118

    A paid EMS and volunteer fire department?
    Brilliant!
    Put the money where our people most benefit!
    Many more people have benefited from services of our volunteer and income producing EMS than the tax dollar sucking bloated budget fire department.
    The EMS is much more of a hands on – people helping service – on a daily basis.
    Why does such a helpful volunteer organization have to pay rent?
    Just another town budget accounting scam.

  74. Rockannand, I never understood how these registrar jobs are legally filled. The company I work for complies with the Equal Employment opportunity Act because it has contracts with the federal government. How can a municipal government pay these jobs where almost everybody is excluded? Discrimination? Paying someone with public funds to carry out a political job? Sounds like a remnant of a 100 years ago. If they did this for secretary’s job there would be groups dragging the town into federal court. Seems much more cost effective to hire 1 apolitical person to do the whole job. But, the town didn’t pay these positions before, why did we start?

  75. 75 jezebel282

    Greg,

    “Seems much more cost effective to hire 1 apolitical person to do the whole job”

    The answer you will get is that these positions are “elected” by the people. Of course that is not true because each Town Committee selects one person each and that is all you can vote for. Kind of like Kim Jong Un of North Korea claiming he is democratically elected.

    Now back in the day, it was usually just the RTC and DTC chairmen that got these “jobs” and decided to make them pay a bit. The Council voted for a modest part-time salary with benefits like health (when it used to be cheap) and a 401K.

    But Lou Decilio (the RTC Chairman) has taken it to a Zen level and had gotten the 9-1 Republican majority that we just voted out of office to make it a full time position at a very nice salary with full benefits. Of course, if the RTC had one, the DTC had to have one too. So we have Marcone as a Registrar as well.

    How much work do they actually do? C’mon, don’t be silly. How hard is it to register to vote? https://voterregistration.ct.gov/OLVR/welcome.do

  76. 76 missgreeneyes118

    Why do we need to pay ridiculous salary and benefits to the two political pets?
    What other towns of similar size pay such a large salary for two guys who are doing clerical duties?
    Sharing the “workload “with two assistants.
    Why not just have the assistants who do all the actual work report directly to the Town Clerk?
    Looks like a $200,000. savings just like that.
    BAM!
    Of course Lou and Rick could bump down to the assistants jobs …..and do the same work for less money.

  77. 77 1cyclops

    missgreeneyes118, The answer to your questions is because state statute requires the employing of 2 ROV. The statute has to be amended for the suggestions you pose. However, it is up to the local municipal body as to the salary paid to those registrars. The municipality can reduce them.
    What did the town council do on Monday regarding the deficit reduction? I have seen nothing on any of the sites or in the newspaper? Does anyone know?

  78. 78 jezebel282

    Cyclops,

    “Does anyone know?”

    No. Not even the Council. Nothing will happen until their February meeting. Maybe.

  79. 79 Rockannand

    We’ve been having a spirited conversation on https://www.facebook.com/groups/wpcastratfordgetanswers on this topic:

    [My Post from that page]
    The unauthorized spending of $500,000 by the WPCA board that started late 2013 must be completely aired and not swept under the rug. When Stephanie Philips got Tim Bishop on the record saying the money was never authorized to be spent on the WPCA deal with P&C, the prior Council and WPCA Board refused to address the illegal expditure by the Mayor’s office, for obvious reasons and because they could with the 8-2 majority.

    Whether its to fund ill-conceived deals like WPCA or to give large 5 figure stipends to various town employees for dubious payoffs or to “authorize” no-bid purchases of a second 100′ fire truck for business cronies like the new chair of the BOE, none of these actions pass the smell test, regardless of the “technical” legality of each of them. Every year it represents millions of dollars of taxpayer money that enriches the few at the expense of the many.

    Right now the budget should be the number 1 focus of the Council. The Council Chair, Majority Chair and Minority Chair should be meeting with the Mayor’s office to discuss the priorities for the 2016-2017 budget. Instead of a tax increase, they should be insisting on a tax decrease. Its time to rollback the excesses and all of these questionable practices. They housed be negotiating with the mayor over his proposal last Monday to fill the $5mm budget hole in this year’s budget. Obviously the money is there to fill the gap without much sacrifice or layoffs as he mayor said would happen if you voted no.

    Did every one hear the Chief of Police in the budget hearings last week? He said if his department had to make sacrifices he will whatever it takes and not make the open hires and hold the line until we get control of our finances. That’s leadership. That’s being accountable, that’s being responsible. We need more of that. And we need this Council to dig in now and not get distracted by all the other issues until we get control of our finances and this out of control budget. And that includes the lack of transparency in the BOE budget.

  80. 80 stfdprofessor1

    Hear, hear Rock!

  81. 81 stfdprofessor1

    So it’s been about 30 days and hardly a peep about the reversal of the Harkins salary explosion or the return of EVEN ONE taxpayer owned take home vehicles????? The new council has been in control over a month and a half and I have seen nothing of consequence done, NOTHING (I’m sure someome will correct me if I’m wrong).

    I predict “for sale” signs lining most streets this spring and summer in Stratford, I’m also starting to realize we are getting just what we deserve.

  82. 82 jezebel282

    Prof,

    You’re right. It’s a real mystery. Honestly, what could possibly happen if you took some cars (That WE own, by the way.) away from a few chiefs and deputy chiefs. Does anyone think they would quit? Would anyone notice?

    How can you cut tens of thousands of dollars from someone’s budget if you can’t even get the car you paid for back?

    What’s worse is that Councilman Dumas provided us with a check by check accounting of the millions of our dollars doled out to a handful of attorneys and they STILL can’t put the Town Attorney on a leash with a salary. In fact, they approved a new Town Attorney from Berchem Moses & Devlin. One of the biggest abusers of our tax dollars ever.

    And parents can’t wait to approve whatever ridiculous amount of money Feehan wants for a windfall for attorneys…we mean “renovation”. Why bother reviewing the expenses? It’s for the kids!

  83. 83 Rockannand

    My, my, my. Patience people, patience. I think the end is almost near. As Mr. Dumas and others are seeing clearly is that the $5.1mm is there to be had. Long wolf Chariman Daponte however, it staking the say way out. Here is the breakdown that is clearly there to be had if they have any balls:
    > $1.4mm revenue from WPCA
    > $3-4mm by cutting EVERYONE’S budget by 3-4%. They all can stop spending that much without layoffs.
    > If need be take a bit from the contingency fund, but it is not necessary.

    The cars will be taken away, but that is window dressing. Tell everyone they have to cut 4% and its a wrap.

    Then for 2016-2017 tell the mayor he cannot steal that money form WPCA and EMS and make that 4% cut permanent across the board.

    Sell those 100′ firetrucks (TWO OF THEM) we NEVER needed in the 1st place. Keep hiring freeze in place until we right size the budget and cut the mill rate by 2 mills.

    Then give all sewer rate payers a $50 credit against this year for that $50 dollar increase that was only put in place to scare us into voting YES. then cut for 2016-2017 sewer rates to $375.

    Then this Council will be considered to have done their job. Anything less is a cop out and sell out. We can look at the fee based lawyer system next year.

  84. 84 stfdprofessor1

    “I think the end is almost near” I heard that about 7 years ago, back then I could afford to spring for lunch once in a while. Now it’s a steady diet of cat food spread on day old bread. How about sending the mayors strumpet packing???? There are also many cars going home besides the firemen and the PD big shots, every jackass that has a title in this town gets a car and there are a lot of expensive titles…..and there is no way we can afford the town attorney having another year with a blank check book! Especially Berchem Moses & Devlin for christ sake!

  85. 85 stfdprofessor1

    if they have any balls

  86. 86 stfdprofessor1

    Sorry for the plagiarism I meant “if they have any balls”!

  87. 87 jezebel282

    Rock,

    “Mr. Dumas and others are seeing clearly is that the $5.1mm is there to be had.”

    Yeah, we knew that. Actually, we’ve always known that. After all, in a $200+ million/year budget it only represent 2.5% of revenue. That is if we believe any of Harkins or Robinson’s numbers in the first place.

    The point we are trying to make is that after 60 days in office this new Council has done nothing. Have they even voted on anything definitive? We think they have simply pushed the whole mess down the road a bit.

    Which brings us back to our point; if this Council can’t even manage a symbolic cut like collecting cars keys from overcompensated administrators, how can they possibly be expected to do anything that’s actually effective?

  88. 88 stfdprofessor1

    There’s a term “sending a message”, as far as I’m concerned a message hasn’t even been sent by the new council save Mark Dumas’ attempt at some transparency.

  89. 89 stfdprofessor1

    “Transparency”…I heard that about 7 years ago too.


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