December 10, 2008

Budget session slated for Thursday

As the city kicks off its budget preparations Thursday, officials are aiming to freeze the municipal side of the annual spending plan and to hold education increases to as little as possible.

Mayor Art Ward said he intends to reject any new spending that isn’t needed to protect the safety of the public or employees.

The goal, he said, is to hold the line on the budget.

Easing the way a little is a $1.6 million surplus from the last fiscal year, which ended in June.

The surplus – half of which came from unspent education funds and half from the city side of the budget – was announced this week after completion of Bristol’s annual financial report.

City Comptroller Glenn Klocko said the extra cash from the past fiscal year has pushed the rainy day fund to $17.94 million, or 10.5 percent of the yearly budget.

The city’s Board of Finance has a policy of keeping enough to cover 10 percent of the budget in the rainy day account, also known as the undesignated reserves.

That means there’s at least $800,000 of extra cash that could be tapped to help cover the tab for next year’s budget.

“This is the year I would consider it,” Klocko said.

Klocko said that as long as the money is used to buy long-term, non-recurring items that are not a part of the yearly operating budget, tapping the excess may make sense.

At this point, it’s unclear whether the city will wind up with a deficit in the current fiscal year, a prospect facing many cities and towns across Connecticut as revenues dry up.

But officials are especially worried that next year’s budget could face bleak prospects because the state is likely to slash its aid to municipalities. That could leave a gap of millions of dollars, particularly in education, that have to be filled with property tax money or spending cuts.

A more detailed budget outlook is likely to become clear Thursday when city leaders kick off the budget season with a 9 a.m. department head meeting focused on the mayor’s expectations for the spending plan.

Klocko said that one bright light amidst the gloom is the city’s plan to sell as much as $30 million in bonds in the spring.

“This is the best time to strike,” he said, because long-term interest rates are low and the city’s finances solid.

Klocko said that ratings agencies will look over the numbers, which remain excellent, and then ask him about how things look for the future.

“I’m going to estimate positive, whether it’s true or not,” Klocko said.


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

23 comments:

Anonymous said...

Why is Klocko so Anti-Education?

Why does Ward let him get away with it?

Anonymous said...

So how much money was left from last years budget????

Steve Collins said...

$1.6 million.

Anonymous said...

Klocko is anti-education because he has no children and does not reside in Bristol - Case closed.

Anonymous said...

Steve, does that 1.6 go into the "make Klocko look good fund?"

real beauty said...

7:49 - no the money goes to make you look like a lip-sticked ass 1.6 million times.

Anonymous said...

I thought the comptroller RECOMMENDED and the Board of Finance DECIDED on the Budget.
Power is a mighty thing.

Frank said...

I didn't get the idea that Klocko is anti-education.

Anonymous said...

I should have said were are the details of what every dept. returned to the city.

Anonymous said...

Kloko: the poster boy for honesty and candor in government.

Is he speaking for Ward too?

Poboy said...

“I’m going to estimate positive, WHETHER IT'S TRUE OR NOT ,” Klocko said."

Does this statement mean Klocko admits to being a liar?

Poboy said...

"Klocko said that one bright light amidst the gloom is the city’s plan to sell as much as $30 million in bonds in the spring."

Selling bonds means borrowing money. Should we be doing that in these ecconomic times? Even Klocko was worried about tax revenues a couple of weeks ago.


“This is the best time to strike,” he said, because long-term interest rates are low and the city’s finances solid." "

A couple of weeks ago Klocko said our budget situation was so dire he "had no clue" what would happen next year. Now we have a year end surplus, half of which came from unspent education funds. This guy is out of control, maybe he should apply for a job in Illinois state government.

Steve Collins said...

Klocko said during today's department head meeting that he would always tell the truth about the city's finances and his view of the outlook for Bristol.
As for Poboy's point, the bonds would actually cover the spending for things the city has already done, from purchasing the mall to public works projects. The city basically borrowed the money from itself -- one advantage of having a rainy day account -- but needs now to sell the bonds that actually cover the tab. They'd be paid back over the next 20 years (or 17, which the city normally chooses instead).
Klocko's not pulling a fast one. He's been talking about this bond sale for years.

Just Wondering said...

So if he is talking about this bond sale for years, that means the money was "spent" some time ago, no matter where we got it.

Now, wouldn't it be the same if we did something now, borrowed as was done in the past, and then bond in 3-4 years?

Is he really be straight with the local taxpayer, of which he is not one?

Poboy said...

"Klocko said during today's department head meeting that he would always tell the truth about the city's finances"

How about this quote?

“This is the best time to strike,” he said, because long-term interest rates are low and the city’s finances solid. Klocko said that ratings agencies will look over the numbers, which remain excellent, and then ask him about how things look for the future. “I’m going to estimate positive, WHETHER IT'S TRUE OR NOT." Klocko said.

Sounds pretty dishonest to me. Why do you keep appologizing for and defending this guy? Don't you even read what you write?

Cockayne Addict said...

Thank goodness for Ken Cockayne. He's looking out for Bristol's taxpayers. He isn't in the back pocket of the public employee unions like every single Democrat politician in this city, this state and the US. He's also not a spineless jellyfish like just about all the other Bristol Republicans.

Steve Collins said...

I merely reported what he said during today's meeting to you. Personally, I've always found Klocko to be honest.

Poboy said...

"Personally, I've always found Klocko to be honest."

How do you explain the quote? Are you willing to follow up? Did you ever read the power point on GASB posted on his Comptrollers web site and read the inaccuracies and misrepresentations there? You tend to find things only when you actually look for them.

Anonymous said...

Maybe Stortz wasn't so bad after all.

Steve Collins said...

I was there for Klocko's GASB 45 presentation. I didn't see anything in it that would make me think he was dishonest.
In fact, the data on the Powerpoint slides was clearly identified as coming from the city's actuaries, pension attorneys and news articles. I didn't see anything at all that Klocko worked up independently.

Poboy said...

"I didn't see anything in it that would make me think he was dishonest."

It is what you didn't see that is the problem. He left out crucial IRS information about the Pension Protection Act of 2006 title 8 part d as it concerns 420 transfers of colllectively bargained pension funds. He also gave incorrect information about VEBAS (voluntary employee benefit associations).
He said that this valuable tool
could not be used by municipalities, when in fact it is one of the most effective ways to offer municipal retirees added medical benefits at little or no added expense to the municipality.

Poboy said...

"I merely reported what he said during today's meeting to you. Personally, I've always found Klocko to be honest."

He said in one article that city finances were in "dire straits", then in another that city finances were "sound". You never thought to ask him how to reconcile these two statements? Also, I hate to beat a dead horse but since you never responded to it , I will post the quote again and ask if you can explain how this quote could come from an honest man.

“This is the best time to strike,” he said, because long-term interest rates are low and the city’s finances solid. Klocko said that ratings agencies will look over the numbers, which remain excellent, and then ask him about how things look for the future. “I’m going to estimate positive, WHETHER IT'S TRUE OR NOT." Klocko said.

I M Sceptical said...

Guess we should be happy that Kloko isn't putting out any specifics: we wouldn't know what to believe anyway.