December 21, 2009

Mayor warns department heads on budget

Mayor Art Ward delivered this address to the city's department heads this morning:


Good Morning,
I want to begin by thanking you, your staff and your employees for all of the help and sacrifices that you have endured over this past year and a half, especially the last year, with regard to wage concessions, manpower reductions, capital equipment, program sacrifices and service cuts.


I know that it hasn’t been easy and we have all had to make adjustments; for that I thank you.

I was hopeful that I would be addressing you today with a brighter forecast then what we have been experiencing , but it is no secret that times are no better than last year and are in fact, predictably worse.

While it is obvious that we are not in the best of times, I don’t believe that it is the worst of times either; I do believe that it remains as the most challenging of times.

As reported on a daily basis, the national economy is a mess and the indecisiveness of our Legislature and the State budget casts nothing but dark clouds over the horizon, leaving the cities to pretty much fend for themselves compared to previous years.

Bristol is fortunate in that we are somewhat more financially secure than most other communities in our State, but that proves to be a false sense of security where the reality of budgeting is concerned. Revenues such as interest monies, tax collections, motor vehicle growth, service fees and the like are down; conveyance tax revenues are down and are dependent on legislative action for reenactment this year.

Expenses and needs for the City are constantly rising and the responsibility of balancing these elements with the necessary finances to provide adequate services to the community hasn’t lessened, as a matter of fact, it has sharply increased. State aid to municipalities hangs in the balance awaiting legislative action, and our health insurance costs are estimated to escalate over to $2,000,000 dollars.

As previously reported, the City is facing a huge imbalance of close to $8,000,000 dollars for fiscal year 2010-2011 and a general fund deficit for 2008-2009 of $1.46 million dollars.

On the bright side, our grand list is expected to rise about $20 million dollars generating $520,000 of new tax dollars, our economic development efforts are continuing with new businesses opting to make Bristol their home. Existing businesses are expanding their facilities and operations, creating new jobs and contributing to new dollars to our tax base. Route 72 is scheduled for completion in 2010. The Depot Square effort is moving forward, many of the State road projects are nearing completion, our regionalization efforts are now being realized through the mutual cooperation of adjacent communities, ( such as single stream recycling programs in conjunction with the Town of Plainville) In conjunction with the Board of Education, we will continue to lobby our State legislature and our Congressional delegation for any and all financial and/or project assistance, including intensifying our lobbying efforts for temporary relief from State unfunded mandates. I have been in constant contact with our legislative delegation regarding our needs and have met with them as recently as two weeks ago.

We are actively pursuing new methods of ensuring the collection of any/all back taxes, including the recently advertised “boot” program which targets primarily those with long standing overdue tax obligations and the new credit card tax payment ability which has just become available this week.  We are also evaluating the proposal for instituting fee-based service schedules for certain programs and departments and revisiting all of our present program fees.

Our grant writing department is doggedly pursuing any and all grant opportunities both public and private, and will continue to do so in order to secure monies in support of City initiatives.

We are actively involved with supportive organizations such as the CT Conference of Municipalities, The Bristol Resource Recovery Operating Facility, the Central CT Regional Planning Agency and other like-minded associations for collaboration on addressing the community’s needs through cooperative efforts.

This administration will continue to focus on consolidation efforts with regard to departmental and service-oriented areas requiring all of us to incorporate flexibility and meeting the need to do more with less in everything that we do.

We will also continue our present appending practices such as review of requests for conferences, seminars, travel expenses, evaluation of the need to fill positions as they become available though attrition, energy conservation and maintain a vigilant pursuit of any new ideas or suggestions which can assist us in obtaining savings.

I would, at this time, like to commend your departments, your staff and employees for your conservation efforts with regard to travel and fuel conservation – the past year has realized a significant decrease in the amount of fuel used on a daily basis – please pass our appreciation on to everyone.

You have been asked by the Finance Board to submit proposed budget cuts of 5% and 10% for next year’s budget.

While we are aware of the difficulties these cuts would have on your departments and the delivery of services, the thought process requires the need for new, creative, innovative methods of approach.

Departments should review and prioritize services which are essential to the taxpayers and those services which are in fact, more desirous than necessary and can therefore be given consideration for decreases or elimination.

No department or individual has escaped the impact of these difficult times and we all need to work together to survive this recession. These are not options, these are necessities.

Again, as in the past, public and employee safety cannot and will not be sacrificed, but all departments will be scrutinized and evaluated for utmost efficiency and maximum savings.

The Personnel Department will be evaluating all potential areas which might provide economic relief throughout our departments, and the entire City, in general, to include furloughs,                consolidation efforts, service restrictions or cut backs and any other areas for potential savings, review of the GASB-45 idea and any and all possibilities for economic relief. Simple ideas such as control of thermostats, as recently proposed by the City Council, can provide economic relief.

Capital needs will be appropriated where necessary and all capital projects will be evaluated for the vision of the immediate needs within our community.

As stated previously, all of our present policies and procedures are being constantly reviewed for performance assessment and the scrutiny of all expenditures will remain a highest priority.

I am relying on you to implement new strategies, with a new vision, a new means of performing daily functions with a focus on the realization of incurring less encumbering expenses.

As I stated at last year’s budget address, our ancestors experienced the great depression and they sacrificed and survived allowing us very comfortable lifestyle, until the most recent recession. We have that same responsibility to our children, our grand children and our future generations.

I know that this budget process is going to be very difficult and performing our duties will not be as easy as in the past, but with each one of us working together as a team, we will continue to ensure that Bristol is a great place to live. We will continue to demonstrate our strengths as a community, of resilience, of perseverance - A City that we, our families and our future generations can be proud to call “home”.
*******

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

42 comments:

Anonymous said...

All hat and no cattle!

Anonymous said...

Got Thesaurus?

Anonymous said...

A day late and a dollar short!

Where ya been Mr. Mayor?

Anonymous said...

Did he speak in large bold print too!

Anonymous said...

just more of his usual hot air just butter everyone up before you kill them with high taxes. if you cannot afford your property taxes in full go put your tent up in art's front yard. we will all be doing that sooner or later.

Anonymous said...

GASB 45 GASB 45 GASB 45 GASB 45

GA$$$$$$$$B 45 is worth 20% of the deficit THIS YEAR!! GIVE IT UNION BOYS!!!!

Anonymous said...

Well, I feel much better now.

Heaven help Bristol!

Anonymous said...

Good thing Ward didn't ask the biggest piece of our budget to cut back, the board of education.

salvation said...

this blog is a great haven for the snaggle toothed idiots who lack the ability to give any positive input as to how to see today's problems become resolved. Thank god that all of you idiots are in one place.

Anonymous said...

2:11 LETS YOU AND THE POLITICANS WALK AROUND CITY HALL. People taking one hour breaks walking around town two times a day . Public works his so top heavy its a joke. The school board is killing the city and the test scores are in the toilet. Police dept is out of control with overtime and you wonder why we are in the hole. Its called no leadership.

eradication said...

@ December 21, 2009 2:11 PM

Thanks for joining us, Einstein!

Anonymous said...

Was that Klocko I saw peeking out from behind the curtain?

Does Ward understand any of what was written?

I thought that the last administration cut back on OT.

dough boy said...

3:12 - SUCK IT UP.

agog said...

Let me guess...the answer to all problems according to "salvation" is "city hall: spend more".

Anonymous said...

Art give them the option cut 15% or your out of a job. Changes will happen quick. They will be throwing each other under bus. Watch how much we save. Start with the school system. Then police and public works. Then you will be able to cut taxes.

Anonymous said...

Start with union cuts befoire its to late.

Anonymous said...

These "boots" are made for walking and thats just what they'll do, one of these days these boots are gonna walk all over you! The boot program is a waste of money and it's going to bite them in the ass if they go through with it.

We need a town manager with financial experience. The $100k yearly investment in the salary for that position would have taken care of a lot of our shortage because THEY would have made the cuts mandatory and the department heads would have no choice. This is what you get when you have a mayor in charge of the departments. I bet Craig Yarde is laughing his butt off because nobody will listen to him.

Anonymous said...

4:11

They did and Ward has in essence reinstated it

Anonymous said...

Where are the cuts at Board of Ed? Not from teachers and paras, but from administrators? You've got assistants to assistants, directors of this and that...change and consolidation is needed at the top. Cut TSA's and other hidden compensation the public doesn't know about. Don't threaten us with cuts that affect the kids, or the kids programs. Enough is enough. The Board of Ed needs to follow the same budget that the rest of the City follows. If not, there will be voter backlash.

Anonymous said...

11:13

There should have been voter baklash last election, but there was no legitimate opposition to choose from.

The power brokers hold sway.

Anonymous said...

5:51

IT IS TOO LATE.

Ward should have started two years ago!

Anonymous said...

If Mayor really wants to save money he should take the public works director during the next storm and watch DAMATO AND LAVIERO CO PLOW SNOW. This would teach them something. Then the tax payers would get releif. Dunkin donuts was the cleanest spot in Bristol. On tax payers money. Think by now with all the people complaining about public works something would be done. Maybe we should start fining city workers instead of tax payers. Can only fool the people for so long and time is up.

Anonymous said...

Once again the obvious bad news comes out after the election. You're a class act Ward (not). Do what ever you have to do to save your paycheck via hiding info from taxpayers so you can get re-elected. You obviously care about no one but yourself. I'd have a hell of alot more respect for you if you laid the cards on the table prior to the election but you don't have enough self confidence in your abilities to run the city and get re-elected so you hide the info. You can blame the economy on some of the deficit but had you taken action 2 years ago we wouldn't have near the deficit that we have now. You should be ashamed of yourself. I don't know how you can look at yourself in the mirror.

Anonymous said...

Ward won't do anything against his buddy Walt - so the lazy, clueless head keeps going.

Anonymous said...

Sounds like Ward is a day late and a million dollars short

Anonymous said...

7:47

It was all there for the republicans to point out to the people.
What did they do? Nothing!

Where was big mouth Cockayne?

Where was the Republican leadership?

Give Ward credit, he did what HE had to do to get reelected!

Anonymous said...

Ward is short in other areas too!

But he will put the blame elsewhere, as he has done so many other times.

mirror, mirror on the wall said...

woe is me, woe is me, woe is me - sounds like a lot of blubbering fools whose deflated egos have been forced to face the reality that they really are idiots.

Anonymous said...

Walt is a disgrace to Bristol hes lazy and walks around city hall like hes the ruler of the land and just keeps collecting a fat check doing little.

Anonymous said...

7:32

Maybe Stortz wasn't so bad after all!

Anonymous said...

In the past two years, just what has Ward done to address the worsening financial sitation?


Except talk about it.

Sounds like the old IBM salesman who kept telling you how great it was going to be.

tired of the same said...

yawn....................

Anonymous said...

CAN anyone, WILL anyone, explain the basis of the anticipated 8 million dollar shortfall?

Or is it just Ward and Klocko setting the table to look good when it is only 1-2 million?

And does that include ANY tax increase.

I can almost guarantee Wards silence on this issue.

Anonymous said...

7:14

Right on!

Again, it is Wards con game at work.

Anonymous said...

9:43pm sounds as if your ego (Mayor) is way out of place.

U Lose, City Wins said...

6:31 - suck it up.

Anonymous said...

10:14

Guess your response tells me that you have no answer to my question.

I'm not surprised.

yoyo said...

11:44 - suck it up.

Anonymous said...

5:15

Guess you are telling me that that is the best you can do.

Not surprised.

Anonymous said...

Why has Ward waited two months to fill the BOF position, especially at such a critical time?

And he was the biggest whiner over positions not being filled when he was on the council

Anonymous said...

Art, staff are not employees???

Pleas explain.

Anonymous said...

Napoleon,

AKA Mayor Ward, DO SOMETHING!