April 17, 2009

City aims to delay its budget deadline

Hoping that a few more weeks will provide a clearer picture of what the city can expect from the state and federal governments, officials are scrambling to delay the mandated adoption of Bristol’s annual spending plan.

City law currently requires that a joint session of the City Council and Board of Finance adopt a budget for the following fiscal year on the third Monday of May.

But officials are looking to change the deadline – at least for this year – so that the joint meeting could take place as late as June 5.

Mayor Art Ward said that leaders “hope to have a better idea what dollars are coming in” if they wait a little longer to polish off the spending plan for the fiscal year that begins July 1.

Though state lawmakers warn the legislature may not have a budget in place for months, city Comptroller Glenn Klocko said that Bristol can only wait so long before it has to set a mill rate and begin printing property tax bills that are mailed out at the end of June.

Officials have tentatively agreed to hold the Joint Board session that would adopt the final budget on Thursday, June 4.

The budget deadline change “would appear to be a non-controversial matter,” city attorney Dale Clift said.

A public hearing has been slated for 5 p.m. on Monday, April 27 in the meeting room on the first floor of City Hall. Following it in short order will be an Ordinance Committee meeting and a special City Council session to rush through the revised timetable.

The city has to act swiftly because the law can’t take effect until 14 days after it is published following the council’s adoption of the revised ordinance. If that doesn’t happen before May 18, then the current law remains in effect.

Clift said he envisions the deadline change as applying only to this year.

But it is a common complaint every year at City Hall that local officials have to set a budget before they know the particulars of state aid.

So it would not be surprising if the new deadline is used again in future years.

*******

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

21 comments:

Anonymous said...

This leave about 3 weeks to get the tax bills printed and out.
What happens if there is a problem and they are late?

duh said...

5:43 - the reason for the selected date is to allow the appropriate time to ensure adequate time to accomplish the task.

Anonymous said...

Boy, you sure sound like Art Ward.

Concerned Conservative said...

I read a lot of comments such as "bring back Frank", "bring back Stortz", bring back this idiot, that idiot or the last. But as far as it seems from just reading the papers and this blog, Ward's doing as good or a better job than his predecessors. I don't agree with all the measures he supports, and I would certainly prefer a more fiscally conservative, commerce-driven leader in the mayor's office (and one less beholden to a few of Bristol's less productive special interests), but again this guy seems better than what we've had in the past 20 years.

Anonymous said...

"The city has to act swiftly because the law can’t take effect until 14 days after it is published following the council’s adoption of the revised ordinance. If that doesn’t happen before May 18, then the current law remains in effect."

It's odd that officials find it necessary to abide by the above law, but not the current timetable law for budget adoption.

I say take the high road, leave the dates that have been in place for decades and muster up the courage to do what must be done to enact a budget under the current assumptions.

If additional money becomes available, I am sure the BOF will find ways to spend it.

Anonymous said...

Bring back Nicastro!

Anonymous said...

they can wait all they want of course our property taxes are going to go up

Anonymous said...

"Bring back Nicastro!"

Why? Didn't he screw things up enough last time?

Anonymous said...

Too bad this administration isn't making a serious effort to cut unnnecessary costs.

Odin said...

"It's odd that officials find it necessary to abide by the above law, but not the current timetable law for budget adoption."

What are you trying to say? Of course the city will/would comply with the current law. They are trying to legally change the deadline, before the deadline. I don't get your point.

"I say take the high road, leave the dates that have been in place for decades and muster up the courage to do what must be done to enact a budget under the current assumptions."

You mean, rush to adopt a budget based on bad information (i.e. the state's contribution), when, if they just wait a few weeks, they will have better information? You have a strange definition of "courage".

"If additional money becomes available, I am sure the BOF will find ways to spend it."

You're overlooking a major point. Once the budget/mill rate is adopted, no amount of windfall money will reduce peoples tax bill. Ward obviously wants those bills to be as low as possible, which is why he wants to postpone approving the budget. That sounds pretty wise to me.

Anonymous said...

He ain't gonna REDUCE the tax bill, he may just keep the increase down, OR play games to get throught the election.

Unless he ELIMINATES certain ongoing expenses it is pay me now or pay me later.

The Voters are their own worst enemy.

Anonymous said...

"The Voters are their own worst enemy."

...only if they vote for his opposition!

Anonymous said...

THE VOTERS ARENT THE PROBLEM THE UNION IS . YOU LAY US OFF YOU GET NO VOTES. NO VOTES IS THIS CLEAR.

Anonymous said...

THE UNION WILL BE HOLDING THE FUND RAISER THIS MONTH AND DONT THINK OTHER WISE. ITS THERE WAY OR NO VOTES.

Anonymous said...

Re: Odlin

My point is that politicians will change laws that enhance their political positions with the constituents that they feel will favor and vote for them in future elections.

Those positions may be politically expedient in the short term, but not the wisest things for tomorrow or for our children and grandchildren.

The BOF has never "rushed" to adopt a budget. As a matter of fact, they have been painstakingly slow and deliberate.

The BOF should adopt a budget based on the financial data at hand, now. Not what they think, not what they hope, not what pandering politicians in Hartford will possibly pass so they can be elected in the next election.

This is my point: I have X number of dollars to spend. I have no idea what Y will be contributing to X. Therefore, spend X, plan for X, tax for X, layoff if need be for X and if you ever receive Y to add to X, it's a bonus for next year.

Too often, we look at money from the state and the Feds as free. Odlin, you are smart enough to know that this money is paid for by guess whom, us. That's my point. You seem to be saying, let's find out what the state money is, so we can spend it. I say, budget for what we know, now.

See Clearly - Blurry eyed said...

5:34 should pay attention to 12:51 because 1:38 has vision.

boring said...

12:51, as long as posters such as 5:34 are present, games will be played - hopefully, someday, they will realize what losers that they really are.

Odin said...

8:04 pm - I don't mean to sound sarcastic (emails come out that way), but you do realize, don't you, that on the revenue side of Bristol's budget is the amount of money that we expect (not guess, or wish, but a rational expectation) to get from the State in the form of many different grants (roads, education, LOCIP, CDBG block grants, etc). History has shown that this number tends to get larger as the legislature goes through its own budget battles, and as I said before, the more money we can count on from the State, the lower the mill rate has to be. There is nothing partisan nor pandering about waiting until the last possible minute to adopt the budget. I haven't heard any Republican speak against it.

amazing said...

10:39 - actually cokecane and rimcoski both voted for it and cokecane actually applauded the move.

Anonymous said...

Re: Odlin Post

"I haven't heard any Republican speak against it."

Who cares if they spoke for it or against it, or if Democrats spoke for or against it.

The city has a very good idea what they will receive from the state as does the BOE. Both the city and BOE hope to receive more. Again, my point is, if they receive more, they will spend more.

I say adopt a budget in the time frame that we have used for many years, including years when we did not know to the exact dollar what we would receive. We survived then and we will survive again without changing laws to suit political expediency.

I understand you believe they don't know. Trust me, they know.

Anonymous said...

Its called CYA!!!