April 9, 2009

Layoffs likely at City Hall unless unions make concessions

The most recent budget proposal at City Hall calls for laying off at least 30 municipal workers unless union concessions allow for $1.8 million in savings.

“That’s the scenario right now,” Finance Chairman Rich Miecznikowski said Thursday.

If the city’s unions don’t cut a deal in the coming weeks, Comptroller Glenn Klocko said “the final alternative would be to lay people off.”

Negotiations between the city and its union employees are slated to begin in about a week and a half, Personnel Director Diane Ferguson said.

Ferguson said she hopes all the municipal unions will participate – which apparently is not a sure thing – and that both sides will consider seriously ways to save money.

Among the possibilities are furloughs, wage freezes and closing City Hall on some days.

Mayra Sampson, who heads the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Workers’ local inside City Hall, said her union “is always willing to sit down and listen” but can’t promise that it will agree to any changes in the contract.

Sampson said the union will, however, “show ways the city could save money.”

In addition to the possible layoffs in city government, it looks as if there will be some layoffs at the Board of Education as well.

Proposed cuts in its requested budget would leave the schools short nearly $2 million in their bid to maintain existing services and staff. Klocko said that layoffs will probably follow there, too.

School Superintendent Philip Streifer could not be reached Thursday.

In a nutshell, the budget request from the city departments and educators required about $180 million for the fiscal year that starts July 1. That’s more than $8 million more than the city anticipates it will have if it freezes property taxes, as politicians and fiscal overseers appear determined to do.

To cover the gap, Klocko proposed cutting the education increase by nearly $2 million, saving $500,000 by leaving open positions unfilled, paring public works by $1.4 million, tapping reserves for $2.5 million and squeezing $1.8 million more through concessions or layoffs.

The choices are tough, he said, because “there’s no more lollipops on the trees. All the places we rat-holed money are gone.”

If the city doesn’t make layoffs, squeeze concessions from the unions or find some other way to save $1.8 million, property taxes would rise .39 mills, or about $40 annually on the average Bristol home.

Mayor Art Ward said he’s “striving for 0 percent” because he doesn’t want to shove property taxes higher for hard-pressed residents.

Faced with the $1.8 million gap this week, Ward told Ferguson “to review other options,” including concessions from the unions or possibly layoffs.

Ferguson said that the unions are under no obligation to talk about settled contracts.

Having just won relatively small raises that also required higher medical co-pays, at least some employees don’t want to agree to wage freezes that would essentially reduce their pay to last year’s level while forcing them to cough up more for healthcare.

But that doesn’t necessarily mean that union members won’t back efforts to save money in order to prevent layoffs.

The last time the city laid off employees to save money during a fiscal crisis came more than 15 years ago when more than 50 workers were trimmed during a recession. The biggest hit at the time was absorbed by public works and parks, who lost many ‘outside’ workers.

Assuming city councilors agree to a proposed ordinance change, Bristol’s budget will be set at a joint meeting of the City Council and Board of Finance on June 4.

Until then, officials are still hoping for help from Hartford, Washington or the economy.

As it is, “we’re standing alone in the raft,” Miecznikowski said.




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

69 comments:

Anonymous said...

This is your classic (we've all heard it many times before) "doom and gloom" budget report by our finance board chairman. Let's instill fear in the minds of the taxpayers and lay the blame, again, on the shoulders of the union city workers. Things are never as bad as they seem. With or without layoffs, there are other places to save money. Put off the capital improvement projects until things get better.

Anonymous said...

The Mayor of Bristol should "put up" himself!

He's pulling down a pretty sizable salary, and could demonstrate real leadership by declaring a pay cut for himself!

Come on, Arty! You are already guaranteed a sweet pension and great health benefits when you retire.

It's time to share the pain! Ten percent = $10K+/-

Anonymous said...

Like Obama said, we all need to make sacrifices. The Unions shoulda conceeded a LONG time ago. Like when there was first signs of economic turmoil. They have to much for to long now. It's time to compromise and be reasonable for once. The fun is over- Reality has set in. I wouldn't doubt if they are stubborn and don't give anything. They could care less if there are layoffs, because more than likely it will be the younger and newer folks that will be let go. The old timers will sit there and do as they always have done. NOTHING but suck us dry. Every dollar counts these days. They should have seen this and planned for it a long time ago.

Anonymous said...

6:24,

Take a pay cut and demonstrate real leadership? What the hell are you smoking? Ain't NOBODY gonna get in line to follow that leader.

BTW, pretty ballsy of you to assume you know what "Arty's" financial situation is (and even more ballsy to comment on it)...but then it's easy to be jerk when your anonymous, right?

Anonymous said...

Funny how the CITY negotiates contracts with the Unions and then decides that they don't want to live by them. No one had a gun to anyone's head to sign the contracts that exist.

Concerned Conservative said...

Unbending union bosses make it bad for everyone in the end...business as usual.

Anonymous said...

The unions are on solid ground in this city. The Mayor will never go along with layoffs and and the unions know it. Isn't it better to raise everyone's taxes a little bit anyway than to take away a family's source of income? Isn't the idea to create jobs, not elimanate jobs?

Anonymous said...

I work for the state and we are making concessions - furloughs, a pay freeze, higher co-pays, etc. Some concessions should be made. It is not the unions fault all the time, like some would like you to believe, but in these times, it is better to make some concessions so that everyone can keep their jobs.

Anonymous said...

GASB 45

Anonymous said...

Union greed.

Anonymous said...

Now we know who is running Arty, and Mize-- Klocko!

Get rid of him, now!

Anonymous said...

The bottom line Mrs. Sampson is that the Union does not run City Hall and does not need to show us how the city could save money! You as the Union head need to find out how to save the city money in regards to your union contracts. I love these union people. They have made a mockery of what the Union represents.

Anonymous said...

So much for Ward's "No Layoffs"

Does he know what he is doing, at all?

Anonymous said...

lay them off...starting with Myra

Anonymous said...

Sampson has the nerve to communicate that maybe her union will listen..she claims they have ways to save money...if they have them why did they not bring them forward in the first place??? These hacks care nothing about taxpayers. They are greedy union suckers.

oh well said...

too bad that we couldn't bottle up some of the energy used on this sight to do some of the city work - oops, wouldn't help because it is all negative crap.

Anonymous said...

Control your taxes...do not escrow, that way you can pay no more then you paid last year...and let the city incure the cost to try to get the rest. Screw the unions...without tax dollars they have nothing. It is time for taxpayers to stand up to these thiefs because our mayor will not...he is one of them.

Anonymous said...

Do they know who, and what department?

They must, if the budget is set, unless they are just playing games.

Anonymous said...

9:52 PM,

The State first went around to all non-union, non-bargaining employees (high level managers, directors and department heads). They were all first asked to give one furlough day each at a savings to the State of approximately 2 million dollars prior to July 1, 2009. This was not manadatory, they were asked. This was the absolute correct approach. If the non union employees give back first, then the unions will go along with concessions, like the State unions are doing now, but don't just go after the unions. There are a lot of non union, high level department heads and bosses in and out of city hall all day. Give it a shot first.

Anonymous said...

If they do lay people off, Ward will blame the BOF: it is all orchestrated.

Anonymous said...

The bottom line is that the taxpayers of Bristol can't afford another increase in taxes so cut the budget and control spending. Everyone is cutting back and the Unions need to play a part as well. They are not the answer but they are part of it.

Anonymous said...

Let the games begin.

Anonymous said...

6:24 - Way to anonymously call someone out for being anonymous. That was pretty ballsy (as you say).

Anonymously yours,

Mr. Anonymous

Anonymous said...

Do we have anyone in city government that has ever worked in the real world? We need fresh blood, people that work for companies with shareholders, earnings goals, sales plans, forecasts, strategic plans, etc.

Ward is a career public servant and was formerly self employed, Rimcoski is retired, Block is self-employed(I believe), McCawley is a firefighter, Cockayne is self-employed, Minor is a town planner, and Nicastro is a career public servant. I don't mean to suggest that these gentlemen aren't engaged in noble professions - they are as far as I can tell all honorable folks - however we need some operators in place to make tough decisions, and steer the city to a better tomorrow.

Unfortunately, even some declared council candidates (Derek Czenczelwewski, student; Kate Matthews, attorney; Richard Scarola, self-employed contractor) all fail to fit the bill as well.

Steve Collins said...

7:29 -- No, they don't have any idea who would be laid off. They don't even know how many. All they know is they need to get another $1.8 million from concessions, layoffs or some new source of revenue.
It's very difficult in government to know who would get laid off anyway, because of bumping and seniority rules. It's not as if they can say Ms. X and Mr. Y are outta here. It's quite complex, really.
But we can all guess pretty well where the bulk of the cuts would come because there aren't many departments that employ more than a minimal number of folks. And you have to figure police and fire are largely off the table.

Anonymous said...

I think the unions should and could make concessions! I did in the private world. No raise this year, I am afraid to open my 401k statements and my spouse has had periods of layoffs (luckily working now!). If they don't pony up - layoffs will have to happen.

Not Anonymous said...

@ April 9, 2009 8:21 PM

What the hell are you smoking, Anonymous? You write like you're an uneducated louse who's most likely a "midnight toker" yourself. But that's your brain's problem, not mine.

To your point, a true leader will take measures to benefit others without concern for others following in his/her footsteps. In this case, a proposed pay cut, Arty would be showing leadership in a true expression of demonstrative action. And seeing that he wants the same salary from us via a second term as Mayor of Bristol, then this could score him points politically as well. Besides, if he expects others (unionized civil servants) to willingly give concession to their legally binding, and agreed upon wages and benefits, then he MUST show leadership. My guess is, and I'll humor you with a little redneck language here, "that ain't gonna happen, Bubba." Arty's not a REAL leader.

BTW, Arty's "financial situation" is public information. I'm commenting on the salary he draws from Bristol's taxpayers. Regarding his State of CT retirement package, that too is public information.

On one thing you are correct, I AM BALLSY! Thanks for noticing. LOL

Concerned Conservative said...

Letting Mayra Sampson and the unions run the show is like letting the inmates run the asylum.

But again...business as usual in Connecticut. Except this time business is really bad.

Anonymous said...

Dear Mr. Anonymous,

"A true leader will take measures to benefit others without concern for others following in his/her footsteps."

Uh, gee...isn't the point of being a LEADER to have people FOLLOW? Otherwise, it's kinda pointless.
__________________________

"BTW, Arty's "financial situation" is public information. I'm commenting on the salary he draws from Bristol's taxpayers. Regarding his State of CT retirement package, that too is public information.

While his salary and retirement package may be "public information," his financial situation is NOT. You have absolutely NO idea what bills, loans, debts, medical bills, etc, etc the man has. Your assumption that he can afford to take a cut in pay (my mistake) is actually more stupid then ballsy. You'd have to publicly address the mayor with your comments to be "ballsy."
__________________________

"What the hell are you smoking, Anonymous? You write like you're an uneducated louse who's most likely a "midnight toker" yourself. But that's your brain's problem, not mine."

Uh, no need to comment here...just the typical childish insults and name calling we've come to expect from the anti-Ward crew.
___________________

"On one thing you are correct, I AM BALLSY"

Oops, once again, my mistake...I actually meant you're lacking them.
LMAO!!!
;0)

Anonymous said...

9:35: So you want businessmen to run the city apparently? I'm not sure how the profession you perform makes you any more qualified to make decisions. Matthews is an attorney, Cockayne works in insurance, Johnson is in real estate, Rimcoski is retired, but he did work for many years no? Minor is a city planner, that seems to sound like he might have an idea on how to make decisions for a city. Czenczelewski is a student but works for ESPN, Scarola has had many jobs.

They all seem to fit the bill to me: they have experience working and a passion to make Bristol better.

Anonymous said...

"Way to anonymously call someone out for being anonymous. That was pretty ballsy (as you say)."
_______________________

I'm simply calling out an anonymous schlep. You're the one who constantly attacks, criticizes, harangues and insults a public figure anonymously...(pretty cowardly I must say)

Anonymous said...

7:10 poster,

your wrong about one thing. The union DOES run city hall. They have the lap dog Ward!

Anonymous said...

Ward is a joke. This is just another feel good thing he's doing. Everyone knows he will not lay anyone off. If he was serious about the city he would have not give such good raises. Then again he had to take care of his own! There was only one Councilman who voted NO for the contracts and the unions hammered him for it! It's nice to see someone has a set of balls! Mike Petosa has Wards balls in his pocket!

mama's tears said...

what a bunch of mama's idiots - easy to see the reason that you would be left on a stranger's door step.

Anonymous said...

1:43, You're confused. The union works for the City and the lap dogs are on the city council...

Richard P. Scarola said...

What gets me is this. In various other articles when a city councilman stated he would take a pay cut, it was labled as "an election year" scheme. Now you have people screaming for politicians to lead by example and take pay cuts. You can't win. THE REAL PROBLEM IS THAT THE MAJORITY OF THE PEOPLE THAT ARE COMPLAINING HAVE KEPT VOTING THE SAME PEOPLE BACK INTO OFFICE TERM AFTER TERM. Maybe honor is gone, but wanting to serve as mayor or a councilman or whatever should be honorable. However, if you don't produce, get your rear end out and let someone else in. I am willing for 2 years to at least give new blood a chance. IF they fail, vote them out. Complain all you want, the problems in this city are a direct result of the voters not willing to vote for change. There are some great people in this city, however, the majority can't get out of thier own way. I am willing to give a vote for change and to someone that is passionate about this City. God knows nothing has happened with these jackasses year after year.

Richard P. Scarola said...

Friends:

In reference to a comment that was made pertaining to my experience dealing with working in the "real world", I simply have this to say.
I have invited readers numerous times to read my blogs, which contain my beliefs and background. Up to this point,the page tracker has had 10 hits from people that have logged onto my page to read it.So in short, here is my financial management experience:

In the 5 years that I was General Manager of the restaurant I operated, I grossed sales of approx. $200,000 in our worst year to just about $600,000 in our best. Throughout that time I was solely responsible for adhering to corporate guidelines concerning my bottom line profit and loss. If I successfully stayed within corporate budget guidelines, I would earn a monthly bonus based on my performance. This meant that employee overtime, food cost, food waste, beverage cost and paper cost right down to the napkins had to be accounted for and managed properly on a daily basis in order for me to achieve my numbers and receive my bonus. While $200K-$600K may be a drop in the bucket compared to the City budget,it is a start. I was taught by a very successful corporation how to effectively manage a budget.

When I was employed by the Federal Bureau of Prisons as a Food Service Supervisor, I had some say in how to manage food cost(i.e. taxpayer money) for an inmate population of just over 4,000. Food Services (other than medical) is one of the largest departments in each Federal Prison. As stated, I was responsible for supervising a staff of inmates that prepared meals for 4,000 inmates 3 times a day. Our budget was roughly $1.2 million per year or $100,000 a month. That is not a small chunk of taxpayer change. Multiply that by all the Federal Prisons in this country and it is certainly no small chunk of taxpayer money. Our goal here was to ensure the all money within the budget was being used as effectively as possible. Inmate theft, abuse, neglect and waste were all issues we had to deal with to ensure that our food plan stayed within budget.

As a self-employed home improvement contractor, every job I do has to ensure that I provide an accurate estimate for the customer so they get the most for thier money and ensure that I am making a fair profit so that I can put food on the table each week for my family.

Having said that, could I be the next CEO of a fortune 500 company? Absolutely not. But,based on my track record, I believe I have a very good handle and reasonable experience in managing budgets. I want the challenge to try to make this City better. I want the challenge of negotiating FAIR budgets concerning all aspects of City government. I want the challenge of having to make tough choices.One thing I can say is that I ABSOLUTELY AM NOT going to burden the taxpayers of this town when hard choices have to be made. Government must learn to live within its means just like each and every one of us have to on a daily basis. Thank you

Anonymous said...

same unions barely got a raise which was used to pay for their increase in medical benefits not that long ago. if they do lay off then the tax payers lose along with the workers. we will still be paying the same taxes with giving us less for our taxes.

unions hang in there!!!

put up before u r found out said...

scarola - sounds very political, you'll need more substance if people are to believe that you aren't just trying to inflate your ego - where have you been and what have you done for this city?

Anonymous said...

I like what Scarola has to say. He sounds practical, not political.

I think Ward is showing his inexperience and incompetence. How can you negotiate these contracts less than a year ago and now ask for concessions. The unions have every right to tell him to go screw. Unfortunately, with this economy, they will likely have to make some sort of concessions. This will save their buts and Ward's. Aint politics in Bristol just beautiful!

Anonymous said...

Richard, when you've dug yourself into a hole, STOP DIGGING!

get a life said...

scarface - have you ever been to a city council meeting, been on anything other that work-related committees or involvements - get a grip before you get devoured.

Anonymous said...

The city unions can help all taxpayers by not agreeing to any concessions unless our mayor and city council agree to make cuts in the budget.
Why should the unions give concessions so our city politicians can continue spending?
The new school project should be scrapped.
The BOE should also be forced to cut all sports and after school programs.If students and parents want these programs they should fund them 100%.
The unions should give concessions but everyone should share the pain.

Anonymous said...

I like the idea of no concessions unless the city makes more cuts. Maybe they can start with layoffs. LMAO!

Not Anonymous said...

@ April 10, 2009 11:08 AM

I'm guessing you're either Arty himself or a relative of his. Maybe you're one of his "blind-sheep followers." Any of these possibilities would explain your backward, unreasonable and pompous postings.

Happy Easter! ;o)

Concerned Conservative said...

"The new school project should be scrapped"

---Agreed

"The BOE should also be forced to cut all sports and after school programs.If students and parents want these programs they should fund them 100%"

----Huh? Why should extra-caricular activities be scrapped in lieu of an unfair, overly generous city employee compensation package?

"The unions should give concessions but everyone should share the pain"

---What planet have you been on since 1988? Since the education enhancment act and other pro-public employee union (aka tax payer extortion) messures imposed by the state legislature, the private sector has been "feeling pain" pain for years. Picture yourself working for a Pratt contractor and your job is now history.

Concerned Conservative said...

I watched Obama's speech in Illinois when he entered the Democrat primary race for President last year. He spoke of unions "changing the way they do business". Well unless he was talking about unions taking of over the country, we're all still waiting for Obama's plan to come into fruition. I see that as more empty rhetoric from Obama.

Not Anonymous said...

@ April 10, 2009 12:13 PM

"I'm simply calling out an anonymous schlep."

FYI, the word schlep is a verb, not a noun.

You're simply exposing your ignorance, boy genius.

Anonymous said...

Ward won't follow up on any suggestions, he wants the voters to think he did it all himself.

Anonymous said...

9:42, FYI:

schlep

noun
1. (Yiddish) an awkward and stupid person.

Sorry my terminology caused you to run looking for the dictionary.

(Looks like you're the one simply exposing your ignorance...schlep!)
LMAO!!!!!

Anonymous said...

"I'm guessing you're either Arty himself or a relative of his. Maybe you're one of his "blind-sheep followers." Any of these possibilities would explain your backward, unreasonable and pompous postings."
_________________________

Wrong (not Arty), wrong (not a relative) and wrong (not even worth remarking on)...and YOU think MY postiings are "backward, unreasonable and pompous"???...LMAO!!!

Happy Easter to you too schlep!
;0)

Ass not, receive not said...

8:23 am - seems that you are still trying to find yourself, let alone trying to unveil the identities of other posters - think, if no one posts their name and I, meaning you, don't post my name then how can you (ass)ume to know another posters real, truthful name? The true answer, but not the confirmed name of the true poster answer, can probably be found in the beginning of the (ass)umption - you.

Anonymous said...

At an average of 50K per employee, there would have to be 32 employees laid off, absent any other reductions, or increase in revenues.

And the existing reductions in infrastructure maintenance would still exist, to be paid for in the future.

Anonymous said...

Concerned conservative read the post again I said I agree with concessions. Why should any savings through concessions be given to pay for programs we taxpayers can no longer afford?
The unions are not the only reason why Bristol is in a budget crisis, it is due to excessive spending by our politicians and the free hand out mentality. It is very simple if you want it you pay for it.
You are just like councilman Cockayne with your anti-union opinions....he would be sooooo proud.
My point is we need to have a city council that will cut spending in other areas in addition to union concessions.
As far as the Pratt contractor comment I have been there and done that.....have you?

Anonymous said...

LET THE LAYOFFS BEGIN START WITH THE PERSONAL DIRECTOR ALL SHE IS IS A LAP DOG. THEN GO TO PUBLIC WORKS START WITH THE TOP TWO HEADS AND HAVE FIELD DAY.

Anonymous said...

LAYOFF STEIFER AND A FEW PRINCIPLES AND YOU GOT TWO MILLION. CASE CLOSED.

Anonymous said...

10:47/10:49:

Wow! Looks like you've got all the answers! Why don't you step out from behind that anonymous mask and put yourself out there for all to see?

Anonymous said...

Cockayne for Mayor in 09!

Anonymous said...

Betcha any concessions Ward negotiates cost us more in the long run!

Anonymous said...

7:03,

Somewhere, a village is missing it's idiot...

Anonymous said...

We don't like, we don't like, we don't liiiiiiike Cocayne.

Anonymous said...

7:03.... Clueless

Anonymous said...

No way to Cockayne! Bring back Nicastro.

Anonymous said...

Oh, here we go again. Lets take the police department for example. The city over hired by about 8 officers which they recently hired to cut overtime. So lets get this right. Lets pay all of these extra officers pay, training, benefits, medical care, equipment, etc..., all the time when we would only have to pay them overtime when they are needed. Why is it that the private sector does this and suceeds in business, but this city knows better. Why does the police department have two officers in every car, they never used too. Is crime that bad all of a sudden? If you have to do cuts why not start there. I'mm all for public safety, but I'm all for saving taxes too. Lets just do a study on what it costs to hire an officer versus paying for officers only when you need them. I'll bet it's much cheaper to pay overtime only when we need them. What do you think Mayor Ward?

Anonymous said...

Mayor Ward is the one that put two officers in a car.
See if he responds to your question: he usually doesn't respond to anyone.

As far as OT, yes, the city should do an analysis of OT versus new hires, but keep in mind that there are other factors to included in that analysis, some not quantifiable.

Also, I would like to know just how many certified Police Officers are assigned to non-police work, and are not available for regular patrol type work.

Anonymous said...

Has Ward done anything to get ideas from the public?

And, how is his give-away program with Myra coming along?

Anonymous said...

Yes, there are now two police officers in a patrol car responding to calls for service that only require one most of the time. Is crime up? No, in fact crime is down 2% from 2007. Are calls for service up? No, calls are down over 6% since 2007. So one officer costs about $50,000 per year, plus another 35-40% for benefits, for a total of about $70,000 per year. Multiply this by the 8 officers hired over the past year and you have more than $500,000 paying for personnel that the city doesn't need. And this was all approved by the salary committee and the Mayor. Who is asking the questions? Where is the justification? This is what happens when no one is held accountable.

Anonymous said...

Wow. a whole year without a Veterans service officer.

Guess that proves we really don't need one.

Why not just eliminate the position and save $75,000???

Anonymous said...

Mize, Ward has left you alone on the raft!

Wake up and smell the coffee!