November 18, 2008

No layoffs, says mayor, but other cuts are coming

Though Mayor Art Ward has ruled out layoffs to save money – a step some other cities have taken – he’s pinching pennies where he can in a bid to lower spending.

One of the steps he’s taken to hold the line on a possible budget shortfall is to order the Main Library to remain closed on Sundays.

Ward said he’s also pushed for consolidation of solid waste and recycling routes, clamped down on municipal fuel use, left open positions unfilled, rejected most travel requests and toughened the scrutiny of overtime.

Ward said he plans to talk with the city’s unions about other cost-cutting measures, including the possible closure of the solid waste transfer station on Mondays so that workers there would routinely have a Tuesday to Saturday shift.

The mayor said that he’s also looking into the possibility of four-day work weeks for some employees.

“We’re basically in a maintenance mode,” the mayor said, trying to hunker down and ride out the recession with as little pain as possible for residents, taxpayers and city employees.

But, Ward said, there may have to be more services reduced or eliminated in order to keep providing those that “the most beneficial.”

Ward said that he hopes the economy will turn around so that harsher steps aren’t needed.

“Every day, I hope we’ve hit bottom,” Ward said, so that things can begin to get better.

It’s unclear at this point whether the city faces a deficit at year’s end. Traditionally, it has had strong reserves and been able to ride out recessions without massive cuts.

But in the early 1990s, the city laid off about 50 employees to cope with sinking revenues and rising costs, many of them slots that were never reinstated.

Ward said that he figures that to save half a mill in property taxes – 50 cents on every $1,000 of assessed value – he would need to lay off 50 employees since he can’t just knock off the ones with the largest salaries.

He said it doesn’t make sense to lose the services those workers provide to save so little.

Besides, the mayor said, most of the employees who might fall to a budget ax are also “taxpayers, homeowners and they have families.”

“It’s important in these types of times that people have a sense of security if at all possible,” Ward said.

He said that he would rather lose positions to attrition by not filling slots when people retire or move on to new jobs.

Ward said that Bristol is in a better situation than most Connecticut cities because of its financial strength, a legacy of the reforms pushed through during the Great Depression that included creation of the Board of Finance to oversee city budgets and bonding.

The mayor asked the city’s state and federal lawmakers this week to look for ways to reduce the number of costly, unfunded mandates to lend a hand. Ward said that particularly in education, the mandatory expenses are driving up the budget by millions of dollars.

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

34 comments:

Anonymous said...

"One of the steps he’s taken to hold the line on a possible budget shortfall is to order the Main Library to remain closed on Sundays."

Really? The city charter gives the library board exclusive say over the times the library is open:

Sec. 38. Board of library directors.
(b) Such board shall have the exclusive control of all the properties of said library,...

Anonymous said...

Layoffs??? the word is like the sunrise to Dracula for any elected official who is the pocket of the unions.

Would layoffs save a mill here or there for the taxpayers??..you betcha!

Citi..53,000 jobs gone..why...to save money so the company will not go out of business...Ward you don't have the brass ones to make the decisions this city needs.

Anonymous said...

Sounds like the start of Wards re-election mantra and campaign.

Question: if services are cut and staff isn't what will the staff be doing?

Anonymous said...

Maybe 6:26 wouldn't be so quick to begin the layoffs if it was his ass on the line....

Working to make as many budget cuts as possible before taking away someone's livelihood takes some big brass ones, while sitting anonymously at a keyboard critizing everything the mayor does takes none at all.

Keep up the good work Mayor Ward!

Anonymous said...

Ward...Keep up the good work! The Unions love it!

Keep protecting those who got you elected!!

Anonymous said...

How come many other city's are making cuts. New Haven, Waterbury and Hartford just to name a few. Laying off all who are not needed. Yet, Ward keeps protecting his Union buddies!

Ward, How about helping ALL the taxpayers instead of just your union boys!

Another reason it's time to get rid of the good old boys!

Anonymous said...

Epithany...if you eat from the public troft...you can starve from it too...this is no different in the private sector. If you choose to work for the city...be prepared to recieve the heat..if you can't leave.

Anonymous said...

Seems like Stortz was the only mayor with enough guts to lay people off.

Anonymous said...

Lay 'em off, Art, these are tough times. Yes, we can!

Anonymous said...

Democrats = more government

Republicans = less government

Art = no lay offs because he wants to be Mayor again

Next mayor = will be a Republican with layoffs no matter what the state of the economy is...it needs to be done. Again labor cost are destroying yet another city. Unions do not do anything for anyone!

Anonymous said...

Stortz....GO Away! Your in a dream world if you think you can even come close to winning!

Anonymous said...

Question: if services are cut and staff isn't what will the staff be doing?

November 19, 2008 6:55 AM
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Personally , I find it difficult to believe they could do LESS .

Anonymous said...

Republicans will win all over because it will be time for "change."

Anonymous said...

"How come many other city's are making cuts. New Haven, Waterbury and Hartford"

New Haven, Waterbury and Harford....Nuff said?

Anonymous said...

"Unions do not do anything for anyone!"

Remember that next time you need to dial 9-1-1.

Anonymous said...

It is the police who will be responding not the unions!

Personally, when I complain about unions it is not the workers. They do their job. We do our job - yes I am in a union. It is the leadership that holds everyone hostage.

Anonymous said...

"Unions do not do anything for anyone!"

No, unions do not GIVE ANYTHING AWAY for anyone. Like they want to get something in return for letting the city use the excess pension money. There's no cost to them, no risk to them, and they get their health benefits locked for ten years, but they want more. Selfish, caring-only-about-themselves municipal unions are making a bad name for all unions.

Anonymous said...

"remember that when you dial 9-1-1"

RIGHT, I don't think everyone is talking about essential services ( police and fire ). How about the 10 people watching 1 person operate a backhoe, or the 5 guys puttering around the dump doing nothing but standing around waiting for break.
This is what we (taxpayer of Bristol) are complaining about!!!Get a life and work for a living like everyone else.

Anonymous said...

Can't honestly say I've ever seen 10 people standing around watching 1 guy working the backhoe....and I don't think you could honestly say you have either.

Anonymous said...

If you lay these worthless bags of dung off, all they'll do is collect coutesy of the taxpayers anyway.

Anonymous said...

Ward...Moving Bristol Back-Wards

Anonymous said...

9:52 Maybe you should sit down with Mayor Ward then.

Anonymous said...

Artie likes being mayor too much to make any decision that will upset the unions.

Anonymous said...

No guts, no cuts!

Anonymous said...

Remember that next time you need to dial 9-1-1.

November 19, 2008 2:06 PM

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I do recall the story of the woman and two children being raped , and burned alive while the police sat around watching in Southington . Gotta love those union regulations .

NOT !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Anonymous said...

Sec. 38. Board of library directors.
(b) Such board shall have the exclusive control of all the properties of said library,...

You forgot the part where the mayor appoints all board members...

Anonymous said...

But he can't remove them without cause.

Uncle Remus said...

Maybe Stortz wasn't so bad after all.

Anonymous said...

sure hope that ward doesn't use this site as a source of intelligence because he would be better off seeking advice from a real bag of nuts instead of the cracked shells who ranmble on here..

Sultan of Swat said...

11:20

Not to worry.

Ward is too proud to seek advice from anyone.

Anonymous said...

again, people read what they want to read into every little thing that comes on this site - ward is trying to provide as many services as he can but has already said that reductions have to come if this economy stays like this or worsens.
I commend him for trying to do all this and keeping families in mind at the same time.

Anonymous said...

10:02

Seems like you are too willing to accept mediocrity.

Hoopla said...

10:02

But he won't cut staff.

Goofy said...

Cut staff????

He wants to add assistants!