March 18, 2009

City may tap rainy day fund for $2.5 million to help with budget

The city may snatch $2.5 million or more from its rainy day fund this year to provide cash to keep the schools and City Hall operating smoothly without raising property taxes.
Finance Chairman Rich Miecznikowski said Wednesday that he supports using $2.5 million from the $17 million emergency fund to cover some of the spending that education and general government officials say they need.
He said he would tap $1.9 million for the schools and another $600,000 for city departments.
The Board of Education’s proposed $104.6 million spending plan requires $3.7 million in additional funding over this year’s level in order to maintain existing programs.
But with state aid level and city officials determined to hold the line on property taxes, it’s tough to see where all the money sought by the schools will come from.
Ron Messier, a finance board member who typically backs school spending requests to the hilt, said he doesn’t want to see property taxes rise by more than a quarter of a mill, a tiny increase.
Even that is probably not going to happen, though, because Mayor Art Ward and a number of other decision-makers, including Miecznikowski, have said they want to freeze property tax rates this year.
Messier said he supports taking cash out of the rainy day fund, but expressed astonishment that Miecznikowski was ready to use so much.
Miecznikowski said he hopes to hold the line on spending enough to keep taxes down without forcing layoffs.
Ward said he also aims to avoid layoffs, which would only exacerbate the struggling economy and crimp the city’s ability to carry out the work required.
School officials are searching for ways to stretch their dollars in the coming year.
Tom O’Brien, who heads the finance committee of the school board, said that negotiations are underway with every school employee union.
They are looking for ways to reduce costs and perhaps come up with an early retirement plan that might help as well.
The unions are open to ideas, O’Brien said, and something may come of it.
One possible avenue is to find ways to get more employees to give up their health insurance, perhaps by offering them cash to stay out of the plan, officials said. There are a number of workers who are married to someone who has insurance and double up merely to save on co-pays and the like.
O’Brien said the schools are also discussing the possibility of having retired school workers pay a portion of their health care costs, a policy change that might have an impact at City Hall, too.
The proposed school budget consists mostly of salaries, which make up 78 percent of the total tab. Salaries and benefits are going to rise $2.5 million in the next fiscal year, if the budget remains in place.
The only other significant increases over this year’s totals are in special education and transporting special education students, mandated items that are slated to go up by $2 million.
The rest of the school budget is actually slated to decrease by $760,000, due in large part to declining energy bills. But supplies and textbooks are also going to take a hit in the proposed spending plan.
At a hearing on the plan Wednesday, officials outlined the school system’s success in terms of test scores and graduation rates. They said they want to keep the current programs intact so they can build on that success.
Here is a link to a PDF of the proposed school budget.

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

27 comments:

Anonymous said...

Let the layoffs begin

Anonymous said...

Property Tax Freeze? That's what Nicastro did and that's a lot of the reason why the City is in the mess it is. Must be an election year.

Anonymous said...

It is an ELECTION YEAR!

Anonymous said...

Isn't borrowing what got us into this mess in the first place?

Seems like we in Bristol are now on that familiar political "Slippery Slope".

Anonymous said...

That "snatched" money goes to run the city TOO!

Don't just blame Education.

Actually blame lousy fiscal management on the part of the city.

Icky Poo said...

lousy fiscal management?; then how did they accrue the money in the Contingency account DUMBO?
Might one not think that "rainy day funds" be used for a "rainy day" or do you think that the sun is aglow and all is fine today?
You suffer from an extreme case of either sun stroke or brain drain; doubt if it is the latter because one has to have a brain to be drained.

Anonymous said...

Icky Poo

You made it very clear that you have no knowledge of the city budget process.

The Contingency Fund is a budgeted item in the city budget, budgeted each year for contingencies. Part ofthta years mill rate.
Entirely unrelated to the Fund Balance, or "Rainy Day Fund".

The city has a stated policy as to the desired level of the Fund Balance, and apparently are deviating from their own policy. Eventually they will have to put it back if they are "honest" about it.

The basic purpose of the fund is to satify the bond people, not to address downturns. Never used for this purpose before.
The city resorted to cuts, to layoffs when they had to lower expenses.

By using the Fund Balance, it becomes clear that his administration has NO INTEREST in cutting making the hard decisions and cutting some expenses.

Pay me now or pay me later (when I am not running for reelection) seems to be their attitude.

Anonymous said...

It is not a rainy day fund, it is the FUND BALANCE

Totally Different!

Anonymous said...

11:25 I do believe that YOU are the one who has made it very, very clear that you have no knowledge of the city budget process or the effect of the recession on our economy, but I guess you're entitled to your opinion, no matter how very, very wrong it is...

Steve Collins said...

It's the undesignated fund balance, commonly called the rainy day fund. It is not the same as the yearly contingency fund, which is much smaller and expected to be spent.

Poboy said...

"lousy fiscal management?; then how did they accrue the money in the Contingency account DUMBO?"

They accrued it by overtaxing the residents. Then it was "borrowed"
and squandered on stupid projects like the mall and overpriced real estate for schools. It was replaced with borrowed (bonded) funds. There is no real surplus.
You read all about it here, don't you remember? Again, there is no real surplus. When will Klocko finally be fired for incompetence?

Anonymous said...

Steve,

Show me where in the Budget or the Audit where there is an official item called the rainy day fund.

That is just a conversational expression and just not convey the real reason for Undesiganated Fund.

Anonymous said...

Sure take the easy way out and tap the rainy day fund. God forbid these people actully use their professional skills and make some budget cuts or find alternate ways to fund some items on the school budget with LESS money.
Where are the sacrafices Obama said we as American's ALL need to make? Or is our leaders in Bristol exempt from this? Maybe they weren't listening. Where are the cost cutting measures? These folks are so un-original it's pathetic. Like I said before, come election time I am NOT voting for ANYONE on the current administration. I want all new leaders to represent us. It's really the only way that things are ever going to change. This is just ludacris and out of control spending at its best. Spend, spend spend. Make some cuts for christ sakes!! Don't you people see we can't afford it? All they are doing is robbing peter to pay paul. When I don't have money to fund my lifestyle, I make reductions, I change things to conform, I make cuts. Why can't they do the same instead of taking the easy way out? Are we, the taxpayers, really asking all that much?? God Bless America

Steve Collins said...

Poboy,
Those decisions were made by the Board of Finance and City Council, not Klocko.

Poboy said...

"Those decisions were made by the Board of Finance and City Council, not Klocko."

You have to be kidding. His fingerprints are all over the spending issues of this town including decisions to borrow money from reserves for capital expendirures and then float bonds in order to replace them (a short sighted and irresponsible practice). He has also almost singlehandedly botched the retirement health care issue, which could easily replace the money borrowed from reserves. Go back and read your own articles, his quotes are all over the place. Klocko is an embarrassment, IMHO.

Anonymous said...

Add me to the long list of Bristol/CT/USA tax payers who are now on the unemployment line. The sad part is we had agreed that if we were offered pay cuts to save other employees or the company we would have done it. Unfortunately, we were never given that opportunity.
I do not spend money I don't have and I have a savings account so I should be okay for awhile. I saw this economic downturn coming so I cut back on my spending for the last year and a half.

I don't understand why you would announce dipping into the savings account before all areas of spending have been thoroughly routed??? The person who made this announcement has now given the employees an out to say no to a freeze on wages or pay cuts and for those in charge of spending to not work so hard to look for areas of savings or to make the tough decisions on cutting spending. The out is going to be "take it from the rainy day fund".

Does anyone know if city employees have been asked to give back via pay freeze, lower pay, shortened work week, taking unpaid time off? I can tell, you I would have gladly accepted any of these options in order to keep my job and/or to help others. I would hate to see any city employees lose their jobs. I would much rather see concessions voluntarily made as we do need to find a way to cut costs at this difficult time.

To the Mayor, Council, etc. I implore you to not increase taxes one cent this year. In fact, you should try to cut taxes this year. I already gave you an additional $70+ per month in the last go round and I have done all I can to cut spending in my household. Now I am without a job and I need you to do your part. I don't want to see a foreclosure sign in front of my home that I have worked so hard for.

Anonymous said...

TOM OBRIEN AND THE DOCTOR GOT THERE WAY AGAIN . WE NOW NO THEY OUT SMARTED THE POLITIANS ONCE AGAIN. WE NEED CUT BACKS AND SALARY CUTS LIKE THE REST OF AMERICA. NOT MORE PERKS .

Anonymous said...

THE SCHOOL BOARD RUNS THE CITY AND THE POLITIANS CANT KEEP UP WITH THEM. ITS ASHAME THIS IS WHY WE NEED EDUCATED PEOPLE TO RUN THE CITY. NOT WHAT WE HAVE.

Anonymous said...

WE NEED EDUCATED PEOPLE TO RUN THE CITY.

Mr. 6:19 and 6:25, it is painfully obvious that you are not one of them....(and for goodness sakes, would you please stop typing your g.d. tirades in ALL CAPS? It's almost as annoying as the tirades themselves.)

Anonymous said...

The sh*t eating grin on their faces says it all . They put it to the taxpayers again and there is nothing that can be done to stop the greedy b*st*rds from draining the city coffers.

Anonymous said...

"WE NOW NO THEY OUT SMARTED THE POLITIANS ONCE AGAIN."

...kinda says it all huh?

Anonymous said...

You don't want to touch the rainy day fund if you don't absolutely have to. Every so often you have to do some spring cleaning, and this would be a great time to clean the budget. Cut and throw out! We'll all feel better.

Anonymous said...

9:11

But that would require Ward to make some tough decisions.

Anonymous said...

Ward would never go against the BOE budget, after all his wife works for them - more city money to the Ward family.

Odin said...

"Where are the sacrifices Obama said we as Americans ALL need to make? Or are our leaders in Bristol exempt from this?"

There are only three ways our leaders can balance the budget: raise taxes, layoff employees, or cut services. Raising taxes when so many people are in bad shape is not acceptable, and laying people off will make the local economy even worse. That leaves cutting services. But are Bristol taxpayers willing to accept less for their money? Maybe this is the sacrifice that Obama wants us to make. Are we willing to do it? And are our leaders brave enough to ask us to accept fewer services, or will they be more worried about getting re-elected?

Anonymous said...

The Fund Balance is for emergencies: Art considers his reelection an emergency.

And since Mize considers his reappointment to the BOF an emergency, case claosed.

Anonymous said...

A Slippery Slope action: it doesn't address the problem.