May 19, 2009

Fiscal overseers adopt budget that freezes property taxes

The city’s Board of Finance unanimously endorsed a $170.8 million municipal spending plan that would freeze property taxes this year.

Given the tough economy, “it would have been unconscionable” to hike taxes, Finance Chairman Rich Miecznikowski said.

The budget approved by fiscal overseers Tuesday cuts overall spending slightly while delivering a $1.4 million increase to schools, which amounts to 1.4 percent more money than education got this year.

The new budget won’t be final until it is given a stamp of approval at a joint session of the City Council and finance board on June 4. If state or federal aid figures change in the meantime, the numbers could be adjusted, officials said.

Perhaps the most unusual thing in the finance panel’s budget is that it’s not balanced. Revenues don’t match expenditures, which is an accounting no-no.

The $342,000 in spending that exceeds revenue will have to be sliced away before the final budget is approved, officials said.

To do it, Mayor Art Ward said, the unions representing city workers will have to make concessions on existing contracts or else he’ll have to lay off some employees.

The exact dollar figure “is not set in stone,” Comptroller Glenn Klocko said, but the necessity of reducing spending is clear.

Miecznikowski said officials faced challenges in paring the budget for the fiscal year that starts July 1, including rising costs and sinking revenues.

State aid in particular is stagnant at best, but the city is also seeing fewer building permit fees, lower interest earnings and less money from the conveyance tax on property sales.

To hold down spending, officials delayed bonding, put off equipment buys, slashed road paving, lowered the contingency account that’s tapped for unexpected needs each year and much more.

City leaders have been working on the budget for months, with the aim of delivering a budget that froze property taxes if at all possible.

“It’s been a long grind and there’s been a lot of sacrifice all the way around,” Ward said.

Fact Box

Proposed spending:  $170.8 million

Education share:  $102.3 million

City share: $67.7 million

Proposed mill rate:  25.99

Final adoption: June 4

Were there any tricks?

To complete the budget with a property tax freeze included, finance officials agreed to raid Bristol’s rainy day fund to snatch $2.5 million that had been socked away for emergencies.

Mayor Art Ward and Comptroller Glenn Klocko said the economic crisis is reason enough to use a small portion of the undesignated reserve fund to help close this year’s budget gap.

Klocko said that he also reached into a number of funds – special accounts created to pay for equipment and other anticipated needs – to find even more excess cash.

All of it together helped make it possible for the city to maintain services and at least most of its jobs for another year without clobbering taxpayers.

But what’s going to happen a year from now?

Klocko said that he’s not sure how the city will pull it off without the excess money to use.

Officials said they hope that the troubled economy will pull out of its funk before they have to deal with problem.

Copyright 2009. All rights reserved.
Contact Steve Collins at


Anonymous said...

Ward is just robbing from the future to get through this years election.
Will they have a surplus or a defecit?
How much have they taken from the fund balance, including this year?
Did they overestimate next years revenues?

While we hate to see taxes go up, lets do it honestly and above board!
The details will be interesting.

Anonymous said...

I'm confused...I though there was a $1.8 million dollar they are saying it's only $342,000? What am I missing here Steve?

Anonymous said...


Anonymous said...

We will be paying for this, big time!

Anonymous said...

Steve, do you think that eliminating a million dollars from roadsm especially when they are in such poor condition, is continuing to provide services?

And with more downtime likely as police cars get older, do you think that we can maintain the required response level?

Will we be contracting more work out as PWKS vehicles age and need more repairs?

Ward is pushing all of this onto the future taxpayer.


Anonymous said...

Shame on the BOF for agreeing to a tax freeze. This has shades of Nicastro when he was mayor. ..and didn't we pay for it after he left office with very high percentage mill rate increases. Will we ever learn?

When you lose your hub cap in the next pot hole, trash pick up is delayed because trucks are down for service, parks are full of litter for lack of proper personnel and security or police and fire response times are lengthened, remember the joy you felt when you heard of a tax freeze, but also know the price you will pay in two to three years hence.

Odin said...

Raiding the fund balance to balance the books this year, and admit you don't know how you're going to do it next year, and STILL refuse to raise property taxes is irresponsible.

Anonymous said...

How soon will those layoffs be? Anyone know?

Anonymous said...


An unbalanced budget,

What next?

Anonymous said...

Is Ward mortgaging our future, and the future of those coming along?

Shouldn't we accept some of that responsibility now?

Steve Collins said...

9:24 -- I don't know that yet. I imagine they managed to find more money in stray accounts that helped reduce the gap. But I'll ask.

9:48 -- Of course cutting $1 million from road paving means fewer roads will be paved. And I don't think Ward would disagree with you that some of the cost here is being pushed off into the future. But the presumption is that the economy will improve and rising revenues will make it easier to pay the tab.

To several of you -- I don't think this is quite the same as when Nicastro froze property taxes. He did that during a period when the economy was doing pretty well, not when it was gasping for air. This may be the sort of time when you do rob the reserves and try to hold down taxes. Certainly the council and finance board think so.

Anonymous said...

"Ward is just robbing from the future to get through this years election."

Ward is actually just putting some things off until the future to get through this year's RECESSION, and that's a necessity for many folks!

Anonymous said...


Ken C (the mad dog) as mayor? You are joking, right? But cheer up, there is another job in the village that Ken is particularly well-qualified for...

Anonymous said...

If the reserve is going to be raided, tell us how much, and what is the plan to replace it.

Remember, use of that money costs us revenue in the future.

All along, Kloko was the protector of the rainy day fund; now he is the protector of Ward.

Anonymous said...

What's the point of taxpayers funding a rainy day or reserve fund, if when the rainy day or hard times come, the fund is not used ?

It seems that when the hard times come, THAT is when one observes how efficient the government if forced to be.

Anonymous said...

Rich M. says things are going to get worse: where wiil the money come from then?

I'm glad you used the word "rob": good choice.

There ha sto be more than "stray accounts" to explain the change. Why does the cityhave such a slush fund accounting approach?

Anonymous said...

Pay me now, or pay me MORE later.

Why not put off even more with that rationale?

Anonymous said...

Historically the fund balance has exixted to provide assurance to the bond people that the bonds can and will be paid off is there is a suden drop in revenue.
That is why the Controller espoused such a large amount; to get and retain a good bond rating.
Now that doesn't seem to matter, even as the city considers floating a large bond issue.

Were we or are we being toyed with?

Anonymous said...

One of the reasons that Ward had difficulty getting concessions from the unions is because he wasn't honest with them as to what was needed.

First it was 1.8 mill, then it was down to 350,000.

And there still are cuts that weren't even considered by the mayor.

What goes around comes around.

Anonymous said...

Ken C is the right choice for Mayor, but the timing isn't right. The unions, although frustrated with Ward are still going to blindly support him. Wait until there are layoffs and a need for future concessions or no movement to refill positions left empty from retirement, then they will have had it with him. Their workload will increase and they will begin to understand that you are not anti union, you are just for fiscal responsibility and that includes finding a balance, not simply slicing away at the budget and putting off expenses for the next guy. Keep fighting for us.

Anonymous said...

Thank you Mayor Ward for not raising my taxes.

Anonymous said...


Wait Til next year.

Anonymous said...

If Government was required to "live within its' means, just like the everyday taxpayer and managed the city's monies fairly, appropriately and without waste, we wouldn't be in this situation everytime the economy turns sour. Spend is the only word in this city's Government regardless of what expense it comes at.

Anonymous said...

Why haven't the republicans come up with some cost saving ideas?

All they do is gripe!

Why haven't they questioned some of the tricks that Artie is pulling?
Or don't they know enough to see them?

Anonymous said...

"unconscionable to hike taxes" - Rich Miecznikowski

While I appreciate no tax hike this year, it was unconscionable to raise taxes last year as well. Where were you & why didn't you work to bring taxes back to the rate in 2006/07?

Anonymous said...

Rich, will it be unconscionable to raise taxes sky high next year?

Or is the criteria the election year cycle?

Anonymous said...

Is an unbalanced budget legal?

Where do we go from here?

Who are they taking advice from, Perez?

Anonymous said...

It would be unconscionable to raise taxes because Rich Mize (a very rich mizer) owns so much property in Bristol and it would unconscionable if he had to pay more taxes. He is serving his own interests.

Odin said...

If you insist on comparing government to the family that has to live within its means, then raising taxes is the equivalent of Dad working a second job. Eliminating $1M of road repairs and not replacing several policemen (that's the current plan) is the equivalent of not feeding your kids breakfast.

sayonara said...

10:54 - who cares where you go from here, with your stupidity, we hope that it is far away.

Anonymous said...

Headline should read "Fiscal overseers adopt budget that puts tax increase off to future years".

Anonymous said...


You hit the nail on the head!!!

(future years = after 2009 election)

Anonymous said...


Suggestion for saving $50,000.

Get rid of the Republican Registrar: there is no Republican party in Bristol.

Anonymous said...


She needs the job: her husband ain't getting the lawyers job.

Anonymous said...

But he might be Mayor!

Anonymous said...

Klokos budget in the paper on Thurs. (minimally informative) probably met the letter of the law, but raised many questions in my mind.

First one, and maybe someone has an answer before Monday, is: "transfer in other funds, $2,055,000.00".
What is this, where did these funds come from, are there any more?
I would hope that any BOF member or councilan, could and will answer this.

メル友募集 said...

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