December 11, 2008

City prepares for a tight budget with no layoffs

City Hall plans to make sure its next budget holds the line on municipal spending enough to freeze property taxes – if the Board of Education could do the same.
Of course, with rising costs and sinking state aid, nobody thinks that’s going to happen.
Finance Chairman Rich Miecznikowksi told a department head meeting Thursday that this is shaping up to be “the most difficult year” he’s ever seen and that “extreme measures” are going to be required to keep from clobbering taxpayers.
“We have to prepare for the absolute worst,” Mayor Art Ward said.
Officials said they do not plan any layoffs, but have put a hiring freeze in place. They may pare services, however, if that’s what it takes to hold the line.
“There are going to be many, many decisions that are not going to be popular,” Ward said. “There’s a price to everything we’re going to do here.”
The city’s budget, which applies to a fiscal year that begins each July, is adopted in May after several months of review. The current spending plan calls for shelling out $172 million, with education receiving the majority of the cash.
If the city succeeds in keeping its departmental requests low enough to allow a property tax freeze, that clearly turns up the heat on the Board of Education, which would be responsible for any increases that are needed.
What complicates the picture for the schools is that state education aid may be slashed by as much as $5 million in the coming year while another $5 million in spending is needed just to keep up with rising costs, officials said.
That presents an immediate “hole in the budget” of about 2 mills’ worth of a property tax hike, said city Comptroller Glenn Klocko.
Klocko said that situation is dire.
“This is the mother lode of all tight years,” Klocko said, particularly when cutbacks in road aid, local project money and other state grants are virtually assured.
Because there is no extra money, Klocko said that the budget reviews that are normally fairly complex are likely to be to be simple.
Salaries are rising by contractual amounts, he said, while spending for materials and supplies should remain exactly the same as this year’s totals.
Spending on projects and equipment will be limited to those necessary for public safety or to keep employees safe, Ward and Klocko said.
Miecznikowski said that as long as city leaders pull together as a team, “we’ll get through these difficult times.”
The finance leaders said that if it turns out there is more state money than expected, they can always revise the budget.
But, they said, it’s best to assume the bleak prognosis from state officials is going to prove true.
Ward said Bristol should do its budget “with the expectations of the worst, because we have to.”
He said the city ultimately doesn’t have much it can control.
“We’re completely at the mercy of both Congress and the state delegation,” the mayor said.
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Copyright 2008. All rights reserved.
Contact Steve Collins at scollins@bristolpress.com

25 comments:

peace03 said...

I'm hoping that the Press is saved!

Curious George said...

We'll cut services, but not layoff staff.

What will those people be doing if there is no work for them?

thinking said...

Ever hear of attrition?

I M Perplexed said...

Why didn't the mayor start sooner???

Anonymous said...

Curious George has such a valid logical question!

Anonymous said...

"What will those people be doing if there is no work for them?"

I'm assuming their hours will also be cut.

Anonymous said...

Dear IM Perplexed,

Yes you are! The mayor's been tightening the budget all along.

Anonymous said...

WE CANT LAY OFF THE UNION FOLKS OR WE WONT GET THE VOTE NEXT ELECTION. WE NEED NON UNION PEOPLE IN OFFICE.

Poboy said...

"Finance Chairman Rich Miecznikowksi told a department head meeting Thursday that this is shaping up to be “the most difficult year” he’s ever seen and that “extreme measures” are going to be required to keep from clobbering taxpayers."

Finance Chairman Rich Miecznikowksi's board voted unanymously to blow millions on real estate to build unnecessary new schools. He also approved funds to aid a useless class action suit against the state. He is surely responsible for some of the "clobbering".

Poboy said...

"Because there is no extra money, Klocko said that the budget reviews that are normally fairly complex are likely to be to be simple."

How about the budget surplus... or the rainy day fund?
Klocko never even mentioned that surplus till AFTER the teacher's contract was signed even though half the surplus came from education. We are looking at a 2 mill increase yet he wants to borrow money for needless new projects. He stated in a previous article on this blog that

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

This quote from him:

'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."

is outrageous. He is, in so many words, admitting that he is willing to lie to get what he wants. He had better hope people from the bond rating agencies don't read this blog.

This guy constantly talks out of both sides of his mouth and nobody calls him on it.

I M Perplexed said...

5:43

such as???

Cockayne Addict said...

Good thing we have fiscally conservative representation on the Bristol City Council. That would be Ken Cockayne exclusively.

Thank you Ken Cockayne. Keep up the good work of the people.

Anonymous said...

It is absolutely wrong for City Hall to make statements like this and try to make the BOE the target. I am very disappointed in mayor ward. He appears to be allowing Mr. Klocko to set the pace and that is just wrong.

Doubtful said...

5:37

I don't think that the mayor can do that.

Anonymous said...

First the teachers agree to a better contract for the city then the rest of the unions, and now we clobber the BOE. Gee Ward, what are you doing? Don't you know that their union is one of the biggest in the city?

Anonymous said...

Stop picking on city employees, they work hard and care about the people they serve. They earn their pay. If you are jealous, go get a city job.

N. Bonaparte said...

Art:

We CAN control our own destiny.
It is up to YOU to do something.

Your predecessors did, why not you?

Elba said...

the label bonaparte says it all; short egotistical fool.

Anonymous said...

Bonaparte:

Exactly what is it you expect him to do?

N. Bonaparte said...

6:21

Make the necessary cuts to minimize the impact.

And if he doesn't know of any, ASK FOR HELP!

Dissapointed said...

Looks like this administration (Ward) will leave the city in a bind when they depart next year.


Too bad they do not know what they are doing.

Anonymous said...

I thought that the people voted the COO down.
How come Kloko thinks he is the COO?

Is he collecting both salaries?

I. Remember said...

Wasn't Klocko on Ellens list?

She knew what she was doing!

To bad Ward doesn't!!!

I Like Mike said...

Rimcoski for Mayor

Anonymous said...

If you are jealous, go get a city job.

December 11, 2008 10:36 PM

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Sorry ...... Some of us like to EARN their pay so we can sleep @ night