August 31, 2009

City eyes restructuring, service cuts

With the economy lagging and the state treasury bare, City Hall is growing increasingly worried about how it can cope with an expected shortfall of more than $8 million heading into the next fiscal year.
“Restructuring is going to be the key,” said Finance Chairman Rich Miecznikowski.
Officials said they’re left with no choice except to search out ways to pare services and revise the way the city operates in hopes of saving money. The alternative is a massive property tax hike that would squeeze already hard-pressed taxpayers.
The issue is likely to become one of the hot topics on this fall’s campaign trail as candidates lay out their own agendas for reducing spending and holding the line on taxes during the toughest economy the city’s seen in decades.
“These are big numbers,” City Comptroller Glenn Klocko said. “We have a monumental task ahead of us.”
John Smith, a finance commissioner, said the city needs to “get aggressive” about trimming spending on its employee health care tab and utility expenses.
“We have to save every dollar we can,” Smith said.
Cheryl Thibeault, another finance commissioner, said the city also needs to do more to hold down overtime spending.
Though finance officials say the city will likely manage to end up with a small surplus during the fiscal year that ends next June, the following year appears especially dire.
This year, officials drained cash from every available fund, tapped $2.5 million from the rainy day fund and squeezed budget requests to deliver a property tax freeze aimed in part at helping residents who got clobbered by the economy.
Next time around, though, the accounts will have been depleted and there won’t be excess to use in the rainy day fund, officials, creating a $2 million gap right off the top because that source of revenue won’t be available.
Adding to the fiscal hole are expected increases in health care, salaries, utilities and the necessity of buying equipment and material that got shelved during this year’s budget process.
There’s also growing concern that state funding, which covers a large part of the budget, especially in education, may fall short.
“I have no confidence the state’s going to fund us like they should,” Smith said.
Klocko said that departmental budgets this year are “pretty lean” because of the efforts made to hold the line on spending.
That makes it hard to clamp down on them more, he said.
Yet the only way to hold off a major tax hike next year, officials said, is to reduce spending.
“It’s gotta be a restructuring,” Klocko said. “We’ve got to have a long-term strategy.”
For now, at least, there isn’t one.

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

45 comments:

Anonymous said...

Early retirements for city employees. Don't refill the positions. Everyone is happy.

Anonymous said...

Thwy predict a surplus for the end of this year (10 months away), but can't/won't tell us where we stand for the year just ended.

TOTAL LACK OF CREDIBILITY!!!

Anonymous said...

Merge the city and board of education business offices so there is only one department. Merge the city and board of education public works and facilities departments and take advantage of the economy of scale. Merge the city's. That is a start.

Anonymous said...

there is no long term plan because we have the wrong people in office.should change in NOV? we hope.

Anonymous said...

Wait until the state cuts the funds to cities and towns by 25% or more then you'll see how well they can manage a budget.

Anonymous said...

Looks like Ward has the BOF doing his dirty work.

I questioon if the Charter provides that power to the BOF during the year?

Anonymous said...

Start with Dutton Avenue.
Then the stret scape.
then with street lights

Anonymous said...

Everyone except the guy who now has to do the work of two people, and/or the citizen who now as to wait twice as long for the service that he pays taxes to receive. Simple solution = simple mind.

Anonymous said...

Don't our leaders read the papers, read the news?

Where have they been for the past two years?

Leadership: BAH!
Don't we have a fiscal officer?
Doesn't he read the Wall Street Journal?

Remove the whole board and start over again!

Anonymous said...

If Ward had any opposition he would get beat worse than Couture did in 05!

The Republicans blew it, big time.

Anonymous said...

Yet, we gave the unions massive increases?

Thanks, Artie

Jack Ben Phil said...

"The Republicans blew it, big time."

whatever happened to them anyway?

Anonymous said...

next years property taxes are ofcourse going to be huge.PLEASE let's have change in november. what has ward done of us. all i see is alot of waste.

Anonymous said...

9:05, Don't bet the farm. A lot of us are quite pleased with the job Mr. Ward has done, even during a very difficult economic period.

But you are correct about the Republicans...they definitely blew it!

Anonymous said...

Sell the municipal water dept to United Water and get out of the business. The same with sewage treatment. Other cities have years ago. Outsource all snow plowing so overtime is stopped. The city should get out of the real estate business entirely.

Bill said...

Trimming the fat won't happen as long as Ward is in office to take care of his buddies and union pals.

Anonymous said...

Ward has not ba@*s, that's why he wants the BOF do make the decisions.

Anonymous said...

Wards been saying he's looking at Department cuts since he's been mayor. All talk and no action.

Anonymous said...

Seems like appointed officials are running the city: where are those that we elected?

Anonymous said...

11:19

Apparently the leadership became too impressed with themselves and thought that getting positions WITHIN the party was what it was all about.

Helping Bristol was a distant second, at best.

Anonymous said...

Thanks Art for catering to the unions at taxpayers expense. Time for change in November.

Anonymous said...

"Sell the municipal water dept to United Water and get out of the business."

The Bristol Water Department has so much money in their retained earnings account that they literally had to hire an investment manager last year to tell them what to do with it. Why would we want to sell this cash cow to a for-profit entity?

Anonymous said...

why do they always blame others to the cities problems. city workers arnt the problem why we are in this, its spending. Deciding our wants and our needs is the biggest problem Bristol has

Anonymous said...

If they really want to save money for next year then don't hire the grant accountant, associate accountant, energy manager or schools project manager as a start. All vacant positions should be immediately frozen. They could also close Bingham school immediately and distribute the students to the empty seats at the other schools in the area. All the money saved from this year could go toward the deficit for next year. The schools are not doing their fair share hiring away just to scare the city with laying them off next year.

Anonymous said...

12:19 The city could get a fortune for the water department if it can make that much money already off the citizens. It is like another tax. They should lower water rates if that is the case or sell the department and pay off the city's debt. That would lower taxes for everyone for years.

Anonymous said...

Ward wants and wants, and gives and gives.

Anonymous said...

Who's gonna do a long term plan? There's no administrative staff, and Mayors are short-term temp managers with no real technical or administrative skills. Council/manager governments are performing FAR better in CT. But God forbid we pay someone who wears a suit. Guys who wear badges and hardhats aren't going to manage the City, and neither is that one random old Joe Public you elect every two years.

Anonymous said...

2:15- this is why Mayoral government fails. They have to listen to the public, and the public knows zip about managing a government agency. So every deskjob is out the door, and you wonder why there's no plan and no solutions and no ideas... just mounting problems. You wanna cut grants positions and project managers? They're the ones who bring money in and make things happen. If all you have are frontline workers with no one on the top floor, then you tread water as a city until you drown.

Anonymous said...

Who cares what an anonymous thing says? No guts?

Anonymous said...

THE UNIONS ARE RUNNING BRISTOL.ART WOPNT MAKE ANY CUTS ALL FRIENDS AND FAMILY IN CITY HALL.

Anonymous said...

Run Bill, run!

Please.

Anonymous said...

Kloko dances pretty well for a big guy!

Watching the unions... said...

Ask Mayor Ward why he has secret meetings with the BOF chair - what are they cooking up? I don't Ward he has way to many lies so far.

Anonymous said...

But Kloko can't control his mouth.

Anonymous said...

"Ask Mayor Ward why he has secret meetings with the BOF chair"

Wooooo...maybe they're meeting with Elvis, bigfoot and the aliens behind the grassy knoll???

What a putz!

Anonymous said...

If Ward is having secret meetings with the BOF chair, he should choose better people to meet with - the BOF chairman is way past his prime and if this is Artie's inner circle, then we should all be afriad. Klocko controls them both.

Anonymous said...

the unions can`t stand art, so make sure you know the facts before you speek.

Anonymous said...

Maybe the BOF Chair doesn't want to be seen with Ward???

Anonymous said...

About 3 years ago an effort was made to possibly combine all facility maintenance activities.
This would have been more efficient, saved staff and equipment.

Did Ward put a stop to that too?

Anonymous said...

4:26

I wouldn't blame him.

Anonymous said...

9:06 PM - I'm sure the feeling is mutual.

Bristol Taxpayer who cares said...

Anonymous get your facts straight about the water department. They did not hire any investment manager. Or did just spew crap? Speaking of crap, how about that 2 million dollar dog crapper across from Chippens Hill middle school?
It's about time to make a golf course out the property combined with the sacred Hopper's piece where all the kids drink and smoke dope. At least the golf course will produce revenue.

Anonymous said...

8:21

Golf courses across the country are closing and/or losing money!

Chippannee is hurting, as is Pequabuck.

The city can't run anything at a profit.

A golf course would just be another rationale for the politiciansd to hire more family and friends.

Think about it!

Anonymous said...

chippens hill 2 million dollar s--- hole should start making money build a indoor sports plex with some outdoor fields, we don`t need a dog park at rockwell, chippens hill etc. this town just likes to waste money.

Anonymous said...

Klokos idea of restructuring is to put more stuff under him so that he can have more control.

But he can't even run his department as it currently exists.