February 25, 2009

Showdown looms between mayor and finance board

A showdown is shaping up between the city’s Board of Finance and Mayor Art Ward.

The powerful nine-member panel  that oversees city spending asked last month for Bristol’s department heads to detail what they’d do if ordered to slice spending by 5 or 10 percent.

But Ward told the supervisors to hold off on the scenarios because he wanted to “avoid a chaotic and panic situation” within city government if it isn’t necessary.

That didn’t sit well with at least some finance commissioners.

“It’s our budget process,” said Ron Messier, a veteran finance board member.

“The mayor doesn’t own the budget process. The Board of Finance owns the budget process,” Messier said.

Janet Moylan, another finance commissioner, said the finance board needs “to look at the city as a whole” as it works out this year’s city spending plan instead of simply issuing an edict that everyone has to freeze spending, including the Board of Education.

“We need to look at some of the other departments as well as education,” Moylan said, because it may make more sense to slice purchases or programs elsewhere rather than hammering the schools to save money.

Holding the line on school spending would likely mean layoffs of some untenured teachers and staff and perhaps pare programs such as music, officials have said.

“I don’t think that we can cut the Board of Education’s budget that much,” Moylan said.

Cheryl Thibault, another finance board member, said that the impact statements about cuts in other departments would allow decision-makers to know their options.

Without them, she said, “We don’t have the tools in front of us” to make choices.

“We need to do away with the word ‘chaos,’” Messier said. “There might be trauma,” but not chaos.

But given the hard times facing most taxpayers, he said, there’s no reason city employees should be spared the worry that everyone else shares.

Finance Chairman Rich Miecznikowski said the fiscal overseers can push the issue with the mayor.

“Obviously, you people are in favor of this. We can do this,” Miecznikowki told the board Tuesday night.

Ward is said to be ready to defend his position, but the finance board is increasingly angry that its edict was simply tossed aside by the mayor.

A budget hearing at 6 p.m. at the library tonight will be the first chance for a showdown to take place.


Copyright 2009. All rights reserved.
Contact Steve Collins at scollins@bristolpress.com


Anonymous said...

For years the Board of Finance under Miecznikowski has been a charade.

They have let the budget process become farcial.

Now they want to step in and be heroes, by correcting the problems they have created.

Anonymous said...

Get rid of Mize: he is a dinosaur!

all talk said...

messier sounds like he has all of the answers, tell him to finally step up and show us.

time is up said...

looks to me like a lot of these finance board members have been there too long, need new vision.

Anonymous said...

Come on Ward. Quick put out a feel good item and make it look like your doing something!

Anonymous said...

Ward, how about making some cuts instead of just talking the talk!

Are you worried you might upset your union boys!

bad audition said...

hope that this wasn't johnson's premiere election event because he tripped on the red carpet, for sure.

Anonymous said...


You ween't paying attention. The carpet was ORANGE!

Anonymous said...

Ward will sit back and have the BOF make cuts to the budget so he does not look like the bad guy.

You have no stones whatsoever Ward.

We are in deep $#!% and u play politics.

Anonymous said...

Art, better watch out, isn't Erling a member of the Fish and Hunt Gang?

he did it again said...

1:53 - you are right, the carpet was orange and the faces of all of the republicans in the room were RED, out of embarrassment.

Anonymous said...

"Are you worried you might upset your union boys"

Evidently not as much as you are. You appear to be obsessed.

Anonymous said...


Looks like the Republicans have boxed themselves into a corner with Johnson.

What reasonable candidate would want to be on the ticket with him!

Pot calling the kettle said...

"You have no stones whatsoever Ward."

Like you do 3:15??? Your anonymous insults make it pretty obvious who's REALLY lacking in the stone department.

Anonymous said...


Anonymous said...

Ward is worried about his re-election and the Board of Finance is attempting to do their job. I think Messier and Moylan have the right of it - the mayor is attempting to hang all this on the BOE so he can then shrug to the voters and say "It wasn't me." I think people are on to the game.

Anonymous said...


And doing a poor job at that!

Anonymous said...

Get rid of Mize and Earling, and maybe we can have a real Board of Finance.

Anonymous said...


So far, only Geladino.

That should tell you something!

Anonymous said...

I don't agree with what Ward does most of the time. But honestly I think all of this can be traced back to Nicastro. Lots of spending and no tax increases for 10 years has finally caught up with us!! Stortz and Ward are paying the price.

Anonymous said...

Stortz took over in 91, after Leones wild spending spree. He started to improve the situation, even though the economy was bad, but since he reduced staff, the unions unseated him.

In 05 he started to get the city on the right track again, but stepped on big money toes and lost their support.

Ward inherited this economy, and while he hasn't done all he could have, you are correct that both Stortz and Ward were saddled with Nicastro's false economy.

Sure would like to see Stortz run again.

Anonymous said...


Well, that makes one of us.

Anonymous said...

7:37 poster.

There is more than "one of us"!