February 10, 2009

A 'stupid' mandate that costs Bristol $30K a year

The city spends more than $30,000 a year storing the possessions of evicted tenants that usually go unclaimed and unwanted.
“It doesn’t serve anyone,” said Kit Plourde, who heads the city’s social services department.
Proposed legislation in Hartford would drop the mandate that requires cities and towns across the state to care for stuff that’s hauled to the curb whenever a landlord secures the eviction of a tenant.
“Let’s get it done,” said state Rep. Betty Boukus, a Plainville Democrat whose 22nd District includes portions of both Bristol and New Britain.
Boukus, who has introduced a measure to kill the mandate, said the change makes sense.
Plourde said that tenants who are thrown out almost always know the day is coming because they’ve been in housing court for weeks.
They take most everything they might want with them whenever they go, she said, and typically leave behind junk, broken equipment and items they simply don’t care much about.
While some do reclaim possessions the city pays to store, Plourde said, most never do.
Wolcott Mayor Thomas Dunn called the requirement a particularly stupid unfunded mandate.
He said it doesn’t make any sense for his town to go pick up stuff after evictions and pay to store it.
Instead, Dunn said, the law should require the landlord to keep the material for a couple of weeks, something that can usually be done right on site.
Making the change, he said, “is a simple thing” and should be done.
Plourde said that years ago her department would store things for awhile and then auction off whatever wasn’t claimed in a sort of tag sale that took employees a day or two to organize.
But with only four overworked staff members left in her office, Plourde said, that’s no longer possible.
Instead, the stored junk is sold as a lot for a minimal amount.
The public works department winds up hauling some of it away to the incinerator, Plourde said.
Plourde said there are much better ways to help poor people with $30,000 than picking up and storing stuff that’s usually unwanted by anyone.
Boukus’ bill to repeal the mandate is before the legislature’s judiciary committee. Only one lawmaker whose district includes Bristol serves on judiciary, state Rep. Bill Hamzy, a Plymouth Republican whose 78th District includes northwestern Bristol.
There are at least half a dozen similar bills, some of which would transfer responsibility for storing tenants’ possessions to landlords or state marshals.

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


chris wilson said...

The shame of it is that is just one of many unfunded mandates imposed by the state on local government. I think I have come to the conclusion that maybe we should do like some states and only let the legislature meet once every 2 years. Maybe they could adopt the motto "do no harm"

Anonymous said...

Throw the stuff out! If they left it behind its trash!

Anonymous said...

Ya shift the cost and burden to the landlord...great idea. Either way someone pays. If the content is put curbside, then the city pays for the trash to be disposed of.

Anonymous said...

The law has been around for years, and under the current dfiscal situation, will probably become even more vital.

There are dozens of actions that Ward could take that would hurt less: but apparently he likes to kick people when they are down.

Anonymous said...


If this law has been around for years, how is it Ward's fault?

Anonymous said...

Because now he wants to eliminate it!

Why did he not try that when he was a Councilman and DEPUTY MAYOR???

Two sided he is.

Anonymous said...

4:24 ~ No where in this article does it even mention where Ward stands on this issue, but hey, don't let that stop you from taking your potshots. We understand. It's not like you or your candidate can run on your/his own accomplishments. Disparagement and criticism is all you've got! LOL!!!!!

One sided (and transparent) you are.

Anonymous said...

Art is against unfunded mandates: he has said so. Did he just get religion?
Or did someone just explain it to him.
And, is he not the chief official in the city?
Where is the leadership?

illiterate said...

ward, ward, ward, if the name had 5 letters, you wouldn't be able to spell it.
suspension of UNFUNDED mandates wasn't ever a consideration until this economic mess unfolded and ward was one of the first to say that we need to eliminate them - read the paper - oops, forgot, most words are 5 letters or over - you can't spell, you can't read.
ward '09

Anonymous said...

Is it wards attitude that costs should be cut only in bad times, no matter how nefarious they are?