June 28, 2008

City budget cuts has "grave consequences" for the sick and poor, nursing assocation says

The Greater Bristol Visiting Nurse Association called a last-minute $70,000 cut in the contribution it receives from the city “grossly disturbing” and likely to create “a devastating effect” on patients it serves.
The city’s decision “to just about wipe away our current allocation” after half a century of support will have “grave consequences” for the poor people the money has long helped the nursing group serve, said Anne Dolson, the association’s president.
Dolson said the century-old nonprofit already faces a deficit this year of as much as $50,000 and can’t afford to continue providing services to the indigent if the city’s donation drops to just $100.
Though the group pleaded for the city to restore the funding, Mayor Art Ward said he’s “not sure that we can” reverse the decision now that the budget for the coming fiscal year is finished.
“We’ll take it under advisement,” said Roald Erling, vice chairman of the city’s Board of Finance.
The nursing group said it plans to tell patients and the community about the cuts in the hope of creating a groundswell of support that will convince political leaders to find the cash needed to pay for well-child clinics, nursing visits for chronically ill but poor elderly patients and others.
“We can’t do it without your help,” said Maryellen Frele, the acting chief operating officer of the association.
City officials said that in their quest to lower the mill rate, they drastically cut the VNA because it possesses a $1.5 million reserve fund, enough to allow it to cope with a one-year decrease by City Hall.
But the association’s leaders said the money in its rainy day fund is badly needed so it can deal with changes in the medical field, including greater use of costly technology.
Tapping the cash, said Frele, “would be fiscally irresponsible of us.”
As it is, she said, the group provided $194,000 worth of care to people who could not pay last year and expects to lose $280,000 on care for the poor this year.
“Our current community is really suffering,” Frele said, and the need for free and reduced cost care has never been higher.
The nursing association said there are three groups of city residents who will get clobbered if the city money isn’t restored: elderly patients with limited incomes, mentally ill patients who lack insurance and in-home care for mothers with newborns and children of the poor who need immunizations.
Frele said there is a growing need to care for mentally ill people in their homes to make sure they get their medicine. Without that care, she said, some will turn to crime and wind up in prison, costing society far more than the nursing care they need.
The group said it also hopes to have more well-child clinics to help families that fall through the insurance cracks get the medical attention that children require, including immunization for potentially deadly diseases. There have been four clinics this year. Ten are needed next year, the group said.
There are at least 11 patients in Bristol who have been receiving free nursing in their homes for more than five years, the association said.
Disrupting their care will “most likely precipitate an inpatient hospitalization for the chronically ill elderly,” Dolson said in a letter, which basically shifts the expense from the city to Bristol Hospital.
It isn’t clear what options the nonprofit has to pressure the city to increase aid, but it’s possible that association officials may try to convince city councilors to take action to help.

Copyright 2008. All rights reserved.
Contact Steve Collins at scollins@bristolpress.com


Anonymous said...

vna does some very excellent work but what the vna forgets to tell is that they have over a million dollars in reserve monies which they choose not to use. where did that come from and why not use that first, everybody is hurting today.

Anonymous said...

Thank God for Art Ward

Anonymous said...

9:03 - I agree completely. In this situation the VNA is just being piggy.

Anonymous said...

everyone is hurting . use your rainy day fund. don't blame the mayor.

Anonymous said...

You know whats funny, Mr. Kockayne has not spoken on this issue. Here the city is trying to save money but because it's the VNA he says nothing. But where city workers are concerned he wants pension money and much more medical payments than the city agreed upon. He has no problem giving $50,00 of tax money to them when they have a 1.5 million dollar rainey day fund.

What say you about this Mr. Kockayne?

Anonymous said...

And yet Mr. Ward claims he is trying to help those in need (see Press 6-29).

Why couldn't he have given them notice?

He knew, or should have known that tough times were coming.

Anonymous said...

All this does is shift the burden of care to the hospital, which can ill-afford to have more people using its ER as a primary care center so in the end, the town ends up paying anyway, and if the hospital ends up trying to control its costs and lays people off, then the community has even more people in dire straights. I think a little more effort could have gone into finding a solution. This affects the taxpayers too just not directly like a tax bill.

Anonymous said...

Very narrow short sighted resolution (not solution).

And irresponsible too,

Anonymous said...

Not a big fan of the Mayor, but in all fairness he warned everyone ahead of time that cuts would be made. This shouldn't be a big surprise to the VNA.

I understand that their rainy day fund is marked for equipment, etc, but for them to say that it would be fiscally irresponsible for them to spend it right now puzzles me.

How can they compare the importance of patient care or lack of patient care with a rainy day fund for potentially new equipment?

The least they could do is offer to share the burden with the City - maybe compromise that if the City kicks in 20K then they will kick in 20K from their rainy day fund. 40K is better than nothing.

Anonymous said...

The warning time was minimal, the severity was not even indicated.

Big difference between 3% and 100%.

Frankly, I do not think the mayor was or is on top of the situation.

Anonymous said...

mayor is wrong if he does make cuts or wrong when he doesn't make cuts on this site. anyone give a thought that all cuts had to have the approval of the joint board meeting of both the city council, the mayor and the finance board?

Anonymous said...

Depends on where and how he cuts.

There is still much fat in the budget, fat that could be cut nd then allow legitimate services to be provided.

And to say the budget can't be changed is misleading.

Budgets have been amended in the past and can be amended in the future, if they want.

Anonymous said...


That is virtually ONE person NOT replaced when they leave, out of well over 500.

Think about it, and then explain it to the mayor.

Anonymous said...

June 28, 2008 9:03 AM:

You should be ashamed of yourself.

Anonymous said...

Mayor does not care about the VNA as long as he gets his raises and his son the cop. Notice how that got approved.

Anonymous said...

5:56am, suggest that you address the issue instead of the personal attacks; saying that the mayor doesn't care about the vna or any other community group is completely irresponsible. You need to remember that the police contract was approved by the entire council after prolonged negotiations with the union.
Hide behind this blog but in the end - an ass is an ass.

Anonymous said...

~ I agree 8:19 ~ Seems that some small-minded people feel the need to take baseless, pointless, personal jabs at the mayor. Guess he's really touched a raw nerve in some of the naysayers who predicted his dismal failure by going ahead and proving them totally wrong!

Anonymous said...

I don't know the specifics regarding the VNA's rainy day fund but I do have a more general observation to make. Everyone screams that taxes must be lowered until the cuts needed to accomplish this effect them. We should remember that a basic concept of local government and taxation is that we all pay a bit so that by pooling our resources we can accomplish things that are too big for one or two to individually fund. Conversely, when budgets and taxes are cut, the effect to the individual is often a miniscule $10.00 or $20.00 annual savings but the effect to the party whose line item is cut can be devastating. That does not mean that we don't try to save money in the town's budget, but it does mean that it often can't be done without hard choices and unpleasant consequences.

Unfortunately, the Republicans for the last twenty years or so have been selling us on two big lies - taxes can be cut forever and all government is bad. Sorry to burst your bubble but there are some services that government has to provide and it costs money - raised by taxes - to fund them. If you don't believe it, try setting up a private business to provide police and fire protection, to pick one example. What will you do, refuse to put out a fire or respond to a crime because someone has't paid their monthly bill?

Anonymous said...


Extreme examples are misleading and counterproductive!

Cutting critical services is not being suggested, unnecessary spending is.

There are many areas that could be addressed. While some may be worth only $10,000, $20,000 or so, they all add up.

Use of city vehicles is just one example, But it takes the will to do it.

Anonymous said...

I agree with another poster - you have to wonder where the million they have in a rainy day fund came from and that maybe the VNA should take another look at their budget and where they are getting money from.

Anonymous said...

I think the Mayor made a wise decision. Why should the City give 70K to an organization that has over a million dollars stashed away?

If he had decided to give them 70K and it got out that they have over a million stashed away, then everyone would be criticizing him for taking money from the taxpayers.

Anonymous said...

10:10 am,

Could you please explain why my property tax bill (on a 1300 sq' home) went up $960. this year. I understand reasonable increases but I have owned my home in Bristol for 6 years and in 6 years my taxes went from $2300. to $4600. That is a 200% increase in property taxes! I don't believe many residents have done the math yet but when they get their new property tax bill the mayor & council are going to have some major explaining to do. They should be ashamed of themselves.

In case you haven't noticed the Democrats run this town not the Republicans. The Democrats have been in the majority for a long time. And it is people like you that want to blame one party or the other with your partisanship that are ruining this town, state and country.

Anonymous said...

"Rainy day Funds" are for capitol projects and contingencies.
Contingencies such as this.

Keep in mind that those agencies that are reimbursed by the government usually do not get their reimbursement promptly, and sometimes not at all.

Even so, for Ward to drop this on them at the last minute is unconscionable.

AnonymousWestconnStudent said...
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Anonymous said...

Hey .... the trip to Calipornia wasn't cheap (legion series debacle ).... The money needs to come from somewhere .

Anonymous said...

Then why didn't the City use it's Rainy Day Fund to decrease taxes this year?

Anonymous said...

I think this is a very smart decision by Mayor Ward. It makes a lot of sense and is a very fair request since the VNA has more than enough money to cope with this reduction in city funding.

Anonymous said...

There are many ways to cut costs without reducing services.

Mayor Ward just won't make the tough decisions.

Anonymous said...

The Mayor didn't spring this on them at the last minute. He's been saying for many months now that there would be cut backs to many agencies that have relied on City money in the past.

No organization should "expect" money from the City during times like this. They shouldn't plan their budget around money from the City.

Maybe the VNA should consider developing a volunteer network of nurses and emergency workers that are trained to handle some of their clients. RN's can do anything the VNA offers for services, EMT's and Paramedics can take care of those that just need vitals taken and CNA's can handle many of the services the VNA offers as well. I'm sure that there are many people in the community that have these types of skills that would join a volunteer effort to help.

Anonymous said...

a volunteer network of RN's? are you kidding? why should they?

maybe Ward said agencies should be prepared for cuts, but he totally stripped the VNA of almost every dollar. that's a big difference than other agenceies. Did the VNA exectuives not support Ward in the election?

This was a petty decision by Ward, regardless of what his suckup cronies on here are saying.

AnonymousWestconnStudent said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Anonymous said...

Just like the city shouldn't plan on money from the state, huh?

A cut is one thing, elimination is another.

And, a general "there will be cuts" is not the way to communicate.

Not looking good Artie.

Anonymous said...

6/30 4:21 P.M. - If you bought your house 6 years ago, you probably bought after the last revaluation. That means for most of the 6 years you owned your house it has been undervalued and you are now being taxed on its true market value (Or to be more precise, its market value when it was re-appraised, which unfortunately is probably more than you could sell it for now, given the real estate market bust). This type of effect caused by revaluing every 10 years is why we recently went to an every 5 years cycle.

Anonymous said...

I hope the mayor keeps making these tough decisions. Cuts have to be made and lots of people aren't going to be happy. I don't envy Mr. Ward. This is defnitely NOT a good time to be mayor, but he really seems to be doing a great job!

~ Looking good Artie!

Anonymous said...

Craig Minor wanted the usual MUM PARADE Festivities,he got $30,000
and others voted for more $ for the BOE and they got about 170,000.
They are the ones who ambushed Mayor Art Ward with this proposal and he was outvoted.
So don't Blame Art Ward~He's doing A Great Job.

Anonymous said...

I'm all for volunteerism. In theory volunteerism sounds great. But in any non-profit organization a volunteer program costs money. What's being asked here is for people who do these tasks for a living and asking them to do it pro-bono, repeatedly, in addition to their normal work schedules, and their personal or family commitments. That is not even considering the demands of persons like those with developmental disabilities, for example, who may need more than a volunteer can provide. That is a demanding task, especially when it is expected for a large segment of the community voluntarily.

I'm am a RN and I volunteer all the time for things like this in Hartford and other communities. It's not unusual for people in the medical community to volunteer their time and skills for the benefit of those that can not afford this type of care.

If we followed your view on the subject there would be no volunteers in any capacity - medical or otherwise.

Anonymous said...

? - the mayor actually brought the budget down from a 1.5 mill increas to less than 1 mill but the M & M boys,(minor)&(mccauley), COST THE TAXPAYERS MORE MONEY by pushing for a higher increase.

Anonymous said...

Let's keep this simple -

If someone with a million dollars in a bank account asked you to give them $70,000 because they don't want to dip into their million, would you give it to them?

I wouldn't.

Anonymous said...

"Hey .... the trip to Calipornia wasn't cheap (legion series debacle )"

Hey 7:46 pm .... the trip was to Indianapolis, not "Calipornia," and it was cheap...oh, and it wasn't a "debacle", just an attempt to make the city some money).

Before you go shooting your mouth off, you really should check your facts ~ otherwise you might just come across looking like a small minded moron with a big chip on your shoulder.

Anonymous said...

Maybe Mayor Ward should have factored this into his generous contract "negotiations".

AnonymousWestconnStudent said...
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Anonymous said...

Extremely poor analogy.

First, it is not giving, but a quid pro quo for providing services to some of Bristol's citizens.

Second, it has been done for years: a short notice makes it difficult to address the issue.

Third, the reserve is there for a reason, many reasons, just like the City.

Fourth, the reserve does generate income, and when reduced, so will be the income.

Last, there are many other ways that the Ward could make up that $70,000, but Ward won't make the tough decisions.

Anonymous said...

I see where you are going when you say that he "won't make the tough decisions".

I don't think it would be wise for him to lay people off so that the VNA can get $70K that they really don't need.

Tough times call for tough measures and I don't see the VNA cutting back on any of their expenditures that are not patient care related.

What concessions are they making?

Westconn student - no one said that an all volunteer network is necessary, but a partial volunteer network to help with the patients would be smart. Most succcessful VNA agencies have a volunteer network.