December 20, 2008

Board of Ed may be in crosshairs as budget takes shape

The Board of Education is likely to find itself in the budgetary crosshairs as city leaders try to cope with a revenue squeeze that threatens to shove property taxes higher.

“The Board of Education is really driving the whole city of Bristol’s budget,” said Comptroller Glenn Klocko.

The problem is that school officials have limited options to cope with the soaring tab for city taxpayers.

The state is eyeing a $5 million cut in its basic educational grant to the city – and some smaller cuts, too – while the expense of operating schools at the same level as this year would add another $5 million to the tab.

Superintendent Philip Streifer said he’s trying to convince lawmakers to waive some mandates that add to cost, including several days of continuing education for teachers.

Every day the schools are open costs $300,000 so trimming even a handful would make a big difference, officials said.

Streifer has already put a freeze on hiring and spending in a bid to keep this year’s $100 million education budget from breaking the bank.

“They’re really trying to help us,” Finance Chairman Rich Miecznikowski said.

But unless the schools can trim costs, many of which are mandates, or the state coughs up more cash, property taxes could rise as much as 2.5 mills next year, Klocko said. That’s about a 10 percent property tax hike.

Mayor Art Ward said that he’s angling to keep the city’s spending in the next budget year low enough to freeze property taxes – if the schools can do the same.

“The focus, unfortunately for them, is all on education,” Klocko said.

Miecznikowski said the finance panel’s biggest concern is the school budget.

“We can hold down the city side,” the veteran leader of the Board of Finance said. His panel shapes the budget, which is ultimately approved in May at a joint session of finance commissioners and city councilors.

Miecznikowki said that the school aid cuts on the table in Hartford represent “a big nut” to crack.

With a 2.5-mill tax hike built in if education needs don’t change, “we’re going to have to do something,” Miecznikowski said.

He said that if the state suspended 10 days of school costs through a furlough, it would save the city $3 million.

Miecznikowski said with so many people losing their jobs and struggling to cope with recessionary ills, city officials have no choice but to try to clamp down on spending.

“How can you go up in taxes?” he asked.

The current city budget plan calls for shelling out $172 million, with education receiving the majority of the cash.


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

19 comments:

Anonymous said...

Mize wants to hold down the city side but cut the education side.

Very shortsided.

Where are thge cuts on the city side?

Concerned Conservative said...

"The Board of Education is likely to find itself in the budgetary crosshairs..."

Fire at will!

Frank said...

Usually cutting the education side means cutting the education wish list, i.e., cutting the projected increase. There is never an actual cut from one year to the next. The education budget ALWAYS goes up.

The city side is almost always held down.

Eventually something's got to give.

Anonymous said...

Maybe they can lay off some of the teachers and have 25 kids to a class. Also lay off most of the administrators who coordinate the teachers...like the vice principals who get the kids on the bus. There is so much fat in those budgets it makes you wanna regurgitate.

Poboy said...

Cancel all BOE real estate purchases.

Anonymous said...

Do all those things and see who you attract to Bristol.

We will ebevntually be one West End, Union Street, and Summer Street.

Odin said...

"Regurgitate". Where'd you learn THAT word?

Anonymous said...

If mandates are unfunded then why must they be followed? If the State or Federal Government insists on mandates then they should fund them or let them go.

easier said than done said...

if we didn't have to comply with unfunded mandates then we wouldn't be having any budget concerns at all.

Anonymous said...

But we do have unfunded mandates, as we have had in the past.

Lets see how Arties 14 years of experience comes into play now!

harem said...

everybody's ex, get a life

Anonymous said...

"Mayor Art Ward, who is now solely focused on his re-election next year and what the voters will think of his efforts to date, said that he’s angling to keep the city’s spending in the next budget year low enough to freeze property taxes – if the schools can do the same."

Anonymous said...

Why didn't Ward watch the city spending when he gave the Unions the big contracts? Oh....is it because he has to take care of his union buddy's!

It's tough to negotiate when your talking with your campaign treasurer! Right Ward?

If that's not a conflict I dont' know what is.

Oh..but wait.....he's watching how much food each department eats!!

Keep up the good work Ward! Moving Bristol Back-Ward

N Elf said...

I heard that Santa put coal in Wards and Mizes stocking!

Poboy said...

Why didn't Ward watch the city spending when he gave the Unions the big contracts?

What big contracts? Other than wages, which were on par (except for teachers, which were lower) with private sector raises, all lower than the inflation rate, there were NO gains in any contracts. Show me any net increase in ANY municipal labor agreement. There are none. The biggest increase in municipal spending has been in real estate purchases (mall, school sites, foreclosed real estate etc.) at a time when real estate sales are plummeting. Cancel school real estate purchases and you could balance the education budget immediately. The stupidity is really breathtaking.

Bothered Voter said...

Poboy

Most acquisitions do not have an immediate impact on the current or next budget, as they will be bonded.

Why buy when prices are high?

The economy will improve in the next few years, making it easier to repay.

Improving the Education System is an investment an will aid future budgets by bringing in more revenue and also attract people to Bristol that will be able to afford better houses.

Wages approved: on par with what?

Givebacks. None!!! the Co-pay was minimal , especially in these times.

And Ward blew it by not removing the link to Federal time off

Can't Wait said...

bothered voter - sounds as though your frustration lies within the ranks of aggravated republicans who are beginning to realize how inept your president has been for the past 8 years and can't get away from the fact that you screwed up in supporting him - thank goodness for January 20, 2009.

Anonymous said...

Mize,

Thanks for guaranteeing no tax increase this year.

But how about future years, with the hole you are putting us in?

GURU said...

You want to grow the city, grow education.