October 19, 2009

'Devastating' cuts possible at City Hall

If the Board of Finance chooses to slash the city budget to cope with the sagging economy, city department heads warn of layoffs, furloughs and reductions in service.

Peggy Sokol, the director of the Beals Senior-Community Center, said that a 5 percent cut would require her “to let go of all my part-time employees,” bringing an end to the daily woodworking shop, a ceramics class, life story classes and even the coffee shop

She said the impact would be devastating.

“The seniors will be up in arms if they lose any of the programs we currently have” and if cuts go even deeper it would become “impossible to run this department and care for this building.”

Sokol’s is just one of about 20 memos submitted by department heads to Mayor Art Ward outlining how they would deal with a 5 or a 10 percent budget cut.

Ward ordered municipal supervisors to prepare the memo after finance commissioners insisted.

Ward said Monday that city leaders “need to be realistic” in assessing what’s possible.

“If you cut too many personnel, then you can’t deliver the services,” the mayor said.

Taken together, the memos paint an ugly picture of what could happen if the worst case scenarios for the next budget come true.

The Police Department, for example, said that to pare spending by 10 percent, it might need to lay off as many as 24 people, according Capt. Daniel McIntyre.

McIntyre’s memo, though, urges fiscal overseers to take a more prudent course and try to reduce the department’s numbers by attrition instead.

The tax collector, Teresa Babon, said she would have to cut a clerk’s position that she considered “absolutely necessary.”

She said that losing a position would mean longer lines for taxpayers and slower processing of checks for the city.

In the Park Department, a 5 percent cut would ax two summer maintenance positions and prevent aerators from being installed along Memorial Boulevard, said Park Director Ed Swicklas.

A larger cut would force the department to give up on its ice skating rink, eliminate the summer concert series and make it so the outdoor pools wouldn’t open until July 1, Swicklas said.

The Water Department would need to lay off six of its 35 workers to slice its spending by a tenth, according to Robert Longo, the superintendent. It would also put off infrastructure improvements until better times.

At the library, Director Francine Petosa said that paring spending would means closing both the Main Library and the Manross branch library for two evenings a week, layoffs four part-time pages who shelve books and more.

If fiscal overseers ask for a 10 percent cut, she said, she would have to lay off a full-time clerk at each library as well as eliminating security guards.

The registrars’ office said it is eyeing a reduction in the number of polling places, a measure made possible by the new electronic voting machines.

The Community Services Department would rely on furloughs to save the necessary money, said Kit Plourde, its director. That would mean longer waiting times for needy residents, she said.

The Youth Services Department would slice programs aimed at helping at-risk young people. A 10 percent cut would likely force the discontinuation of services for 175 youths and 25 parents who need assistance, according to a memo from the department.

The Building Department said it was eyeing a range of possible steps, including furloughs, more fees and keeping the zoning enforcement officer home during night meetings where he has traditionally been available for zoning commissioners.

Fire Chief Jon Pose said there’s no way to cut even 5 percent without eliminating “basic essential services.”

Ward said that he plans to meet soon with city Comptroller Glenn Klocko and Finance Chairman Rich Miecznikowski “to brush up on exactly what the impacts will be with the city” if the cuts are made “so we can focus on what’s achievable” during later sessions with the finance board and City Council.

The mayor said that in a lot of cases, departments may be able to absorb a 5 percent cut while 10 percent reductions are “out of the question.”

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

63 comments:

senior moving south... said...

Thanks Mayor. Real great leadership.

Anonymous said...

Artie, Kloko and Mize will bury you.

Ed, who needs aerators in freezing weather?

Water Department not part of city budget why are they asked to make cuts?

Steve Collins said...

Nobody's asking anyone to make cuts yet. They are asking department heads to outline what cuts they would make if necessary.

Anonymous said...

senior moving south...buh-bye!

Anonymous said...

What about public works. Last week saw a man in a city truck sleeping must have been tired from the snow.

Anonymous said...

PLENTY OF ROOM FOR CUTS.

Anonymous said...

Something does not sound right.
Why would Ward make an announcement like this just weeks before the election unless jhe has the answer up his sleeve?

By the way Artie, where do we stand on last years budget: the books have been closed for almost 4 months. You should have some idea of a surplus or deficit?

Fertile ground for Mary, going untilled!!!!

Anonymous said...

Whoopie.....something new for the moaners to complain about. They are so happy that people are hurting.

Anonymous said...

Vote for Mary

Anonymous said...

The Mayor said... “to brush up on exactly what the impacts will be with the city”...

Grammar mistakes aside, what the hell has he been doing that requires him to brush up?

He's the frickin' Mayor of the City. He should damn well know what the impact will be ON the city!

For the benefit of all Bristol residents,
VOTE HIM OUT OF OFFICE!

Steve Collins said...

6:28 -- Ward didn't bring this up. I did.
I asked for copies of the memos because I knew many of you would want to know the budget picture. To the mayor's credit, he quickly provided them.
But it wasn't his idea. And I'm quite sure he'd rather not have anybody talking about the budget until after November 3.

Anonymous said...

Once again the Unions are killing the city. If they didnt have the Best Health Insurance around....even better than some State workers we would be able to save money.

Oh but wait...McCauley and Ward are both on the plan. Of Course they voted to keep the best around.

Anonymous said...

What is the status of GASB 45? Is it dead in the water. How fat are those funds now that the stock market is on the rise?

Maybe now that Block has brought it up and not loud mouth Cockayne we can revisit it. It could help everyone out.

Anonymous said...

Who ever brought this issue up is not the point.

IT IS WHAT IT IS.

The Mayor has known about this looming diaster well before now. He choose to put it in his pocket because it is an election year.

If he didn't know about it then he has further demonstrated his lack of understanding of this financial crisis this city, state and country is in.

The first sign of this leadership void was the give-a-ways to the unions earlier this year, followed by his expectation that they would give it back.

No can do Artie....you gambled and lost.

Anonymous said...

STOP IN CITY HALL AND WATCH YOUR WASTED TAX DOLLARS. VISIT THE BOTTOM FLOOR IF YOU WANT SOME LAUGHTS. TALK ABOUT A JOKE ITS A FULL BOOK.

Anonymous said...

We need serious cuts and they can be made.

Anonymous said...

7:30

That is what Wards boss, Kloko wants.

But, like drawing down from the fund balance, you are just fooling yourself and delaying the inevitable.

Face up to the problems,address them and lets move on!

Ward was made aware of the impending problem before he took off: what has he done?

But then, what have the Republicans done about it also?

Anonymous said...

What's really killing the city is these useless anonymous republicans on here ,not the unions. At least they do something other than cry about everything, These wimps do nothing for Bristol. We are all aware of that and I urge all "normal" people to read this blog and see for themself.

Anonymous said...

None of those cuts sound "devastating" to me. We all need to tighten our belts.

Anonymous said...

Bring back Stortz

Anonymous said...

you are so way off base, poster 7:25. First of all, Mccauley didn't vote to keep his benefits. He can't. he's not part of negotiations. spewing misinformation once again. secondly, he's firefighter not a union rep. just because you're a member of a union and are required to be doesn't mean you're negotiating the contract. that's pretty obvious since you'd have millions of people trying to negotiate their own contracts. that's what union reps are for. please show me anywhere in his record where he has voted to up his benefits or keep them the same for that matter. By the way, if you're talking about voting for the budget, which includes union wages, you probably should talk to Cockayne. he voted yes for the budget. I guess he's a union hack, too, huh? please stop trying to post incorrect information to further your own agenda.

Anonymous said...

Way to play scare tactics there city hall. What is so wrong with having to let go of workers and instead of complaining that certain jobs in the parks department or city hall won't get done, you just work a little bit harder and do with less. Because of this economy we had to let go of 3 people at our shop. Instead of complaining to my boss that "they were necessary positions" the remainder of us just simply do more work. What is so wrong with this concept. We have found over the last year that maybe those people weren't so necessary. All of you city employees are overpaid when compared to comparable positions in the private sector. Is it so much to ask that you work a little harder or up to par for your money and benefits. The rest of us have had to deal with less, so can all of you. As far as the tax office goes give me a break. Sure you could use more clerks but only because out of the 5 or so of you only 1 ever seems to be helping taxpayers pay their bills.

Anonymous said...

Ward won't lay off anyone until AFTER the election. He had this planned to go his way. Real winner Ward - NOT.

Doug said...

What a crock. Do people realize we had a technological revolution in the 80's and 90's. The private sector is doing much more with less while the Public sector remains woefully inefficient. A 10%cut should be a walk in the park. I actually know public employees that brag about how much they make and how little they work. It is no secret!

Listen, the tapayer cannot take it anymore. The taxpayers should organize and start their own union demanding better services for less.

So stop your whining, streamline and become more efficient. Maybe if city managers can't do it, Bristol should hire people that can.

Taxpayers are really fed up with having to do more at their own jobs for less and then having to pay more and more in taxes of all kinds to support such a bloated Bureaucracy, filled with nepotism and cronyism. It's time the public sector started serving the Taxpayer rather than the taxpayer serving the public sector employees.

I mean this from the top down including all those cushy management and administration jobs!

Anonymous said...

Go crybabies go. We need some more lies and negativism from you.

Anonymous said...

4:28- any better ideas?
5:34- terrible idea. I hear that mindlessness in every town and I think it's all lies and exaggeration. All I ask of my city government is that they plow and pave the roads, arrest criminals, and put fires out. Oh, and supply me with water and sewer services, provide some basic social services so we don't have indigents everywhere, educate the kids, do all the regulatory planning, town clerk and building inspection stuff, conduct health inspections, keep the parks up, and get rid of my garbage. That's all. In hard economic times, I'm willing to let go of pretty much anything that falls outside of that "core."

Need to cut back on library and rec? Fine. No senior center? Fine. Pools, citizen educational programs, camps, tax assistance, etc, etc... if the money's not there, let it go. Get the Board of Ed to take a serious look at the fluffy services they provide, if they are willing to take any degree of fiscal responsibility (which I doubt). Focus on what we need, and forget about what we may want. It's either that or raise taxes through the roof... there are no cheap tricks left in the bag. And whining about unions or who's sleeping on the job or who should be doing more for less will get you nowhere.

It would be great if you could get everything for nothing, but you can't so snap out of it and take a good look in the mirror. Either pay for the services you expect to receive, or let them go.

Anonymous said...

8:15- wow, you say it with such authority! you must really have the inside scoop on this, then. what's the plan? maybe you can be the next mayor! There are no education or experience requirements, you know!

Anonymous said...

Where are the Republicans when we need them?

Anonymous said...

Of course the department heads are going to come up with gloom and doom scenarios. It benefits them to exaggerate, because it makes it less likely that their funding will be cut. We can't trust the department heads to be honest and objective - they consider it their job to ensure that their department gets as much money as it can, even if that inures to the detriment of other departments. It is a "take care of mine" mentality that does not benefit the taxpayers. That is why you need someone from the outside who will be objective to come in and evaluate where the waste is and make recommendations to cut it out.
Finally - I would just like to respond to Teresa Babon's comment that cutting a clerk would result in "slower processing of checks for the city": I do NOT believe it can possibly get any slower. Do you know how long it takes to get a refund of a tax overpayment processed? Several months. It is a completely inefficient system.

Anonymous said...

Pampered government employees, bankrupting the city and the state finally see reality first hand.

This is simply cutting the "gift (to political friends) jobs" first.

Anonymous said...

Henny Penny, the sky is falling down!

Anonymous said...

How much is in the rainy day fund?
That what it's for.When times are good you put it away when bad you put it back.Any good business man or woman knows that.

Anonymous said...

Peggy, get a grip.

Tim Gamache said...

All you "arm chair quarterbacks" really kill me.Everybody knows how to do it better.If you have all the answers,why is it we will probably never see your names on a ballot?Talk is cheap,put a little "skin" in the game.

Nancy R. Bristol Taxpayer said...

Tim Gamache - when Ward stops rewarding his friends, and giving to his union buddies, then maybe city govt will listen. Ward's ego is over inflated. Cut the jobs in the tax office and lines by letting people pay online like all other cities do. City of Bristol has was to much fat at the top.

Anonymous said...

6:03 poster,

what besides suck the taxpayers dry does the unions do? All the care about is "give me more"

Anonymous said...

6:50 poster...I mean McCauley!

Go get more talking points from Zoppo.

Anonymous said...

What I think is funny - is that we have had the same results of a poor city image,for the last 20 or so years, and what is pretty sad is the voters keep voting in Democrats! I know Mayor Stortz ran and served 2 terms, but lets be honest he had a mess on his hand with the mall crap. And the very first time was a full blown recession!

The union loving no tax increase voters are so afraid to pay a little money to change this city that its about ready to implode on the tax payers like we have never seen before. I understand times are different, but lets take a step back and think about how we did not raise taxes for 10 years or more and if that helped our city or hurts us? Who is to blame for this mess of not having a good surplus on hand? Who will to be blamed for all the layoffs that are about to happen? That is funny also, Ward will try to divert the responsibility to the Department heads for any layoffs! LOL! Ward its your final approval for any layoffs! So, please voters think before you mark your ballot in Nov What do you want for your city in the next couple of years and is the current bunch of politicians the answer? My vote is noway!

Anonymous said...

Hellooooo 2:28 PM, anyone home? So, you understand times are different??? Uh, obviously, you are NOT one of those who have lost their jobs or had their hours drastically cut. You think Stortz had it tough with the "mall crap???" Ward inherited the mall crap AND a full blow recession...and you think throwing an inexperienced pawn into the mix is going to magically make everything peachy-keen??? NO WAY!!!

Anonymous said...

I think we'd all be better off trimming the fat between some people's ears while we're at it...

Anonymous said...

By Art.

Anonymous said...

Name one suggestion that Cockayne or Rimcoski has made to CUT COSTS?

Raiding other funds doesn't count.

Anonymous said...

Way to go Ed; save the pond before the workers.

Real smart!

Anonymous said...

Nancy R.,

Prove it, prove it, prove it!!! Who are the buddies you are talking about? Don't you realize that you can't just start cutting people without the proper approvals and proper investigation as to who should go and who should stay? You make it seem like every one of the city employees is a Ward friend. Give me a break! Again, another citizen who doesn't have a clue how the city runs or the proper way to do things! It's disgusting! Go back to school and do your homework!
I'm tired of mindless people like you making statements that are totally NOT based in fact ... only stupid supposition! Your comment is about as intelligent as the guy who is attempting to say that maccauley and ward have total control over the unions and whatever they want goes. How absurd! I guess you forgot to include Cocakyne who is fraternizing with the unions just to get elected. Talk about doing anything to get elected! But I guess in your world he doesn't count. Again, hypocritical!
There's policies and procedures that must be followed. If you can prove they haven't been followed, then please call the attorney general for the state of ct or corporation counsel because then they would need to know about it. Yeah, I thought not!!!

Anonymous said...

This State and City is going to crap. Democrat control is choking the state! For a state with the 3rd highest tax we should not even be in any danger in our communities. But for some reason we are...Go figure!

Anonymous said...

I see comments about the Unions from the same old insurance salesmen who have been ripping off people for years and still are. So all they (Yawn) can do is blame the unions.........sorry jerks we aren't buying it!

Anonymous said...

Oh No Gamache again...this guy pays thousands a MONTH for health insurance...what fool...you are the reason PT Barnum became so famous!

Please make believe you are a bear...go back to the cave and sleep it off!

Anonymous said...

5:27pm you better take your meds before you blow a vein. Someone hit your nerve. Typical city worker!

Anonymous said...

But Ward needs Gamache to stroke his ego. Problem is Ward let the so called power go to his head.
Time for a change this Nov. We will all pay dearly if Ward gets back in.

Anonymous said...

The ABC's of this election Anybody But Cockayne

Anonymous said...

6:03 The crying comes from all dems when they don`t get there way. Mr Ward leads the pack, And then the rest of the democratic town committee.If the people in this town don`t see we need a change then this town will never change.

Anonymous said...

GET RID OF SOME DEPT HEADS WHO ARE USELESS AND THE BUDGET WILL FALL INTO PLACE.omm

Anonymous said...

5:54 You hit The nail on the head and it starts with change

Anonymous said...

WARD Is A Puppet for the unions don`t let him fool you.

Anonymous said...

6:14, You must have missed the memo. Kenny Cockayne is now the union's darling.

Nothing like an election to bring out all the usual childish name calling, baseless accusations and bogus rhetoric.

BTW, in case you haven't noticed...change can really suck.

Anonymous said...

7:49am find something else to whine about Artie.

Anonymous said...

1:14 PM, One more time...I'm NOT "Artie." One more time...you ARE a putz. ;0)

Anonymous said...

6:14 Not if it`s for the better.

Anonymous said...

3:36, Unfortunately "if" is the operative word.

Anonymous said...

http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/ut_four_day_workweek

Good Article - something Bristol should look into.

Anonymous said...

7:49 Oh yes you are the mayor, sucks for all of us.

Anonymous said...

3:05 PM Oh no I'm not....
(geesh, whatta putz!)

Anonymous said...

We do have to remember that those who work for the city are in the same situation as the rest of us. Though I have to agree that the unions are quite worthless, working for the city is still another place of employment. There are plenty of families depending on the jobs that their mothers and fathers hold with the city. My question is why would it have to be the typical lower paid jobs to always be in jepordy and the people who hold the positions of running the departments be passed over for being let go? Its always the bottom of the ladder who is the losers. Those who head a department or run the city for that matter, are the ones who make the most money but at times seem to do less. Yes there are offices that seem to have some who just don't care about whether or not they do there jobs. I have had to deal with the tax office recently and I was not impressed by how the clerk presented herself. She had no respect for me, the customer and she had a very bad attitude. Believe me, I have had bad days but I wasn't working she was. Also, public works department should check on their people who are out on the road. I don't know how many times I see a public works vehicle parked somewhere and nothing is being done. They would be chit chatting with someone or talking on their cell phones. As for the police, well they are some of the biggest culprits. What a bunch of lazy bunch of people who rather sit in a parking lot taking a nap. When you do need them they take forever to show up. Its all over this city that used to be really a great place to live. I don't know if it is anymore. So just like any other place of employment, there are those who deserve their jobs and some who don't. Why don't they weed out those who are worthless and keep those who are the hard workers and care that they have a job?