November 30, 2009

City upset at possible cut in state aid

The prospect of losing as much as $1.5 million in aid from state budget cuts put on the table by Gov. Jodi Rell has city leaders up in arms.
“Municipal aid cuts would be disastrous for our city,” second-term city Councilor Cliff Block said Monday.
Mayor Art Ward postponed plans for a municipal budget kickoff meeting this week pending more information about the possible mid-year reduction in state aid that would leave Bristol short of assistance it’s already counting on.
City Councilor Ken Cockayne said, “It is awful that we are at the mercy of the state.”
City officials said the state could lift some of its costly mandates so that cities and towns could get by with less money, but given the cold shoulder that mandate relief has received in Hartford this year officials hold out little hope for help.
Rell has called a special legislative session for December 15 to close an anticipated $466 million budget cap. Among the measures she’s calling for is to slice municipal aid by 3 percent, a move she called “the most difficult cut of all.”
“In good times, municipalities shared in the state’s largesse,” the governor said. “In this economy, they must be part of the solution and so it is important they are represented at the table to help us make these difficult choices.”
The Connecticut Conference of Municipalities, which launched a radio campaign against the move Monday, said, “Cutting more state aid in mid-year wouldn’t be a savings. It would merely shift more of the state budget deficit onto local governments and local property taxpayers.”
It said cutting municipal aid means higher property taxes across the state.
City Comptroller Glenn Klocko said there is “so much hardship that’s coming” that it’s bound to hurt.
He said it is like somebody standing on the beach where things are pretty calm but seeing a wave building way out at sea – and rolling toward the short.
“You know it’s coming,” Klocko said, and the impact will be severe.
City Councilor Kate Matthews said that mandate relief is crucial.
“It is time for our State lawmakers to get serious about granting municipalities like Bristol relief from unfunded state legislative mandates. If they did this, Bristol would be better able to bear a 3% decrease in state funds,” Matthews said.
“Our state legislature should now fight for relief of unfunded mandates, which will not cost the state any moneys,” Block said. “This the only way our city could absorb these cuts.”
“For over two years ourmMayor,City Council, and the Board of Education have been pressuring our state legislators to pursue these mandates but to no avail. This is the wakeup call,” Block said.
Cockayne said he doesn’t blame Rell for proposing the cut since “our state seems to be hemorrhaging money. We have been borrowing to balance the budget and it was just a matter of time for cuts like this to happen.”
He said he hopes the curtailing mandates could be part of the answer.
Without mandate relief, a 3 percent cut “will likely result in cuts to city services that our residents cannot afford to lose,” Matthews said.
Cockayne said the city “must continue to be vigilant in addressing our own spending and we must look for other ways to balance our own budget.”
Ward said he guarantees a “vigilant, diligent and responsible means of addressing only the most essential services” in trying to cope with aid cuts.
“Nothing will be considered to be exempt from consideration,” the mayor said.
“The delivery of services other than those of absolute necessity will be curtailed or eliminated while others will experience extreme cutbacks,” Ward said.
Klocko said the Board of Finance “has a very difficult task before them. I don’t envy their position.”

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

28 comments:

Odin said...

Canceling the meeting with his department heads proves what Ward's critics have been saying all along: he's in over his head. There is no plan, and no vision. He doesn't know how much Bristol should spend without first knowing how much we're getting from the State? Not acceptable.

Now is the time for Bristol to embrace zero-based budgeting. Show some leadership, Mr. Mayor, instead of acting like a dog expecting another kick.

Anonymous said...

Please tell cockyane we need real cuts not just words.Like the promises you made us before the election.

Anonymous said...

Cockayne is right on the money here.

Matthews is really turning me on. She sounds more like a Republican than a Democrat.

Anonymous said...

City should start the layoffs but ourpolitical force are friends with the union boys so Bristol is screwed.

Anonymous said...

Rimkowski gone nobody to stand up for the tax payers.

Anonymous said...

Ken its awful were at the mercy of people like yourself. You havent done one thing for reduction in taxes just a lot of talk.

Anonymous said...

Ward: straighten out your own budget first!
With tough times, why are you spending money putting up fancy Park entrance signs?

Anonymous said...

The town screw-up again 2 more years of nothing, He is way over his head. we have been telling you this for two years.we need HELP!

Anonymous said...

Ward didn't cancel, he postponed the meeting until more information is available. Sounds right to me.

Anonymous said...

Too bad that Ward is not big enough to ask the right people for help.

Both Zoppo and Stortz are knowledgeable in the city budget AND they wouldn't let Klocko snow them!

AnonymousWestconnStudent said...

Ken Cockayne:

Master of the obvious.

Anonymous said...

It is time that the board of education bear the cuts by lengthening the school day and cutting the number of days.

Anonymous said...

7:06

You are not looking in the right place.

Anonymous said...

Make changes in the Board of Finance.
We need new blood, people who can and will make a difference.

Anonymous said...

7:50 PM, We should seek the wisdom of Zoppo and Stortz??? HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA. Thanks for the laugh! :-D

Anonymous said...

Looks like McCauley and Minor vote against the budget and in favor of a small tax increase was the right thing. We would have not had to drain the rainy day fund and not been subject to a large or possible mid supplimental big tax increase now. But what am I thinking Ward wanted no tax increase in an election year. We got it and now we will pay big for it in service cuts and a bigger increase then if we had done it in June. And all the Ward union buddies will be the first to take the hit. I am glad you will be getting what you desereve for endorsing Ward.

Jean Letourneau said...

Steve
Could you list these unfunded mandates, so that we will have an idea whether to support them or oppose them. I hear too many generalities about thye cuts. I would like to hear specific items that should be cut and why. If you ask me we could probably save lots of money if we got rid of legislative and the governors staffs and they could learn how the work gets done.

Anonymous said...

GASB 45...layoffs...cut cut cut...the union folly is about to implode

Anonymous said...

Bottom line is that the whole education system in the state of CT needs to be looked at, and how teachers and administrators are paid. The education system is flawed and is going to damage just about every city / town in this state. The madness needs to end!

because said...

7:50 - suck it up.

Anonymous said...

Cut from city hall,public works and other depts Art. It`s time to be a Mayor do what is right for the town.

Anonymous said...

6:03

He did cut already. Don't you see what lousy shape the roads are in, and it isn't even winter yet.

But we can put up nice monuments at park entrances.

He cut the DARE program, but he can add to the Park Department budget.

Anonymous said...

Time to trim the fat from the BOE budget. Money doesn't make smart kids, people do!

Anonymous said...

Our Mayor does not have a clue!

Anonymous said...

People don't make smart kids unless they are trained, qualified and dedicated.

And that takes money.

Anonymous said...

who payed for the monuments Steve the tax payer or the fund for the parks.

bray, bray said...

3:50 - get off your dead ass and call the Park Department if you want to know - think that Steve is your donkey?

Anonymous said...

Steve isn't going to do asnything to embarass Ward