The Bristol Blog features news and information about Bristol, Connecticut.
December 7, 2008
'Every little bit helps'
A letter to the editor from former Mayor William Stortz:
I apologize for the length, but in reality the economy is a critical issue for Bristol and hopefully action will be taken to alleviate the situation. Bristol couldn’t/can’t stop the global and national recession, but it CAN and MUST take action to mitigate the local impact.
Clearly, there has been an impact on this years budget, and will impact next years also. The question is, just how much is that impact. The public deserves to know, in meaningful numbers, publicly and promptly. Even though the mayor indicates that there won’t be any layoffs, many other steps are possible. The longer we wait the worse the impact we will be facing.
Letter to the Editor,
The Global Financial Crisis has traveled from the International Arena, to Wall Street, to Main Street, and now to North Main Street here in Bristol.
I understand that the mayor has started to take some steps in addressing the situation, trying to reduce expenditures, and I commend him for that. I just wonder why it has taken him so long.
Last year, in August 2007, when the Sub-Prime problem surfaced, as Mayor, I asked certain Department heads for their input as to the possible impact on Bristol, especially the Revenue side.
I said, in part, “ The issue of sub prime mortgages, and resulting foreclosures, the acting of the Federal Reserve Board and interest rate changes, the rising price of oil, among other things, can all affect our budget, the current one, and next year’s also”.
I pointed out a few areas that might be of concern: Interest Income, Conveyance Tax Revenue, Tax Collections, especially vehicle taxes, rising price of Fuel Oil and Heating Oil. As part of the concern, I mentioned the fact that our daily “surplus” might be lower could also reduce interest income.
Other areas of possible impact were Building permits, and opportunities for state revenues.
At that time the impact had not been felt, which was the basic response from the department heads. But it should have been a “heads up”.
I concluded my letter to the Board of Finance and City Council suggesting that the situation was more problematical than it was 6-8 months previous, and that it will not recover overnight. I suggested that steps be taken early on to reduce the need for drastic steps in the future.
For those that follow the overall economic situation, or should, there were many signs indicating possible problems on the horizon. Energy costs, the weakening of the dollar, foreign involvement were items of concern. Nationally, personal debt was increasing, the spread between income levels was increasing, and there were questions being asked as to the reliability of some of the economic figures that were being used. Reduced housing sales and prices were looked at as a possible sign of things to come.
Looking at ways to reduce costs is always good, but with those ominous signs, efforts should have been initiated and implemented promptly. Even small savings over a period of time are better than forced drastic ones in critical times. The question leads to “What are we doing to address this situation, are we doing enough”?
The question now is, do we know if we are facing a deficit this fiscal year. And if so, how much? If we don’t know, why not? If we are facing a deficit, how much do we have to make up?
There are many other areas that should be evaluated also such as monitoring by Police and Fire of abandoned and foreclosed houses for break-ins and thievery, and a possible increased crime rate The likelihood of a reduction in the Grand list of motor vehicles, due to the purchasing a fewer new vehicles and of smaller vehicles. We know that he state is in trouble and that will affect state assistance to some degree.
While very little of the national and international economic impact is controllable at the local level, knowing how much and how we might be affected will better enable us to address the impact. If the public was to be informed of any shortfall, and of any need for reductions in the coming budget, they would certainly be more cooperative and understanding. But they must be made aware of the facts.
At the same time, they might have some ideas for savings that are not apparent to those close to the action. I’m sure that others have offered willingness to help: has the mayor accepted any of the offers? I am sure we all have some possible suggestions to help us through these tough times. Bristol is our city, and I am sure we are all willing to help.
Other cities are taking some drastic action. Maybe we don’t have to be as drastic, but every little bit helps, and having a better and specific report on our situation will help all of us to better accept what has to be done.
Copyright 2008. All rights reserved. Contact Steve Collins at firstname.lastname@example.org