Despite a request from the Board of Finance to prepare budget scenarios detailing what will happen if spending cuts are ordered, city officials are doing nothing until they learn the details of what Gov. Jodi Rell proposes tomorrow.
Mayor Art Ward said he wants to “avoid a chaotic and panic situation” within city government if it isn’t necessary.
Fiscal overseers asked for department heads to prepare scenarios of what will happen if they are told to cut 5 or 10 percent from their annual budgets – numbers big enough to require layoffs to meet.
But Ward said he told department heads today to hold off and to do “nothing” for the moment.
“Why speculate on the unknown?” the mayor said. “I don’t think it’s pertinent at this time.”
When the governor details her plan for coping with a shortfall of as much as $10 billion over the next 30 months, the impact of the state’s choices on Bristol and other municipalities should be much more clear.
"We all know what she's going to say: we're in bad shape; we're broke; we need a bunch of money; we can't raise taxes," said state Sen. Tom Colapietro, a Bristol Democrat whose 31st District includes Plymouth, Plainville and a piece of Harwinton.
Ward said that depending on what Rell says the city may have to prepare for its worst case scenario for the upcoming budget, a plan that could mean fewer municipal services and perhaps layoffs.
"There's going to be some pain," Ward said.
After listening to Gov. Jodi Rell's speech to the state on Monday evening, the mayor said the situation is dire.
"We're going to have sit down and take stock" after hearing the details of the state spending plan, Ward said.
The mayor said "a stark evaluation" is required and will get underway as soon as solid numbers are available.
Ward said the city has been gearing up for nine months to cope with what is turning out to be a potentially shattering state budget that could dramatically reduce aid to Bristol's schools and to City Hall generally.
If that happens, Ward said, "Everything's on the table."
Ward said the city will "make the moves" it must to protect taxpayers and to preserve the most essential municipal functions.
Ward said he hopes that Democrats and Republicans can pull together.
"The days of partisan politics," he said, "are something of the past. We need to collectively work together."
“We owe it to everybody to be as upfront and as real as possible,” Ward said.
Copyright 2009. All rights reserved.
Contact Steve Collins at firstname.lastname@example.org