April 22, 2010

Mills calls for more spending cuts

Republican city Councilor David Mills, in response to my request for his thoughts on the budget yesterday, wrote a long response. Here it is:
This is in response to your request for my thoughts on the proposed 5.5% increase in the Municipal Budget.
I would like to start by thanking each department head, the Mayor, the Board of Finance, and the Comptroller’s office for all their hard work in preparing the budget. Each has presented their thoughts on the economic state of our city and has worked diligently to pare down the requests to something we can afford.
As a newcomer to the budget process, I have witnessed the work of and dedication of everyone to do what is best for Bristol.
With that said, I cannot support the possibility of a 5.5% increase in the City Budget. I have spoken to many people concerning this issue and most people believe they are being taxed to death. Their trust of government, no matter what level is at best skeptical. They witness the ineptness of the Federal and State Governments and their spending habits, knowing full well that their taxes will increase at both of those levels, and therefore do not want to see an additional increase on the local level.
Recently, I spoke with a local small businessman concerning the budget. He responded by saying his business was off because of the economy, and was having to adjust his spending habits. Although he supported the Municipal workers, he wondered why, since the revenue to the city was down, should they expect a pay increase when most other workers were experiencing a decrease? His question to me was,”if revenue to the city is down, does it make sense to ask these same people to pay more?”He asked if everyone took into consideration the revenue producers when formulating a budget. If they are earning less money, why should government take more?
I have done a great deal of thinking about our budget situation in Bristol. I have attended the workshops and asked questions to get justification for the figures presented. I have found many of the figures to be very general in nature and in some instances answers were not to my satisfaction.
I believe that a sound education system is the backbone of any community. I have been impressed by what has been accomplished over recent years to elevate Bristol to the model status we now enjoy. This took a tremendous commitment from the City to fund the program and the Administrators to present a vision for accomplishment and most importantly the staff to implement the plan on an everyday basis. I do not believe throwing money at a problem is the solution. The solution to the education problem is dedicated teachers, which most are, and involvement of the parents in the educational process.
With that said, I believe we can reduce the school budget and I have made some suggestions as to where I thought this could happen. I am not the expert, but I do know that education takes place in the classroom and this is not an area to cut. I believe there can be a small amount that would be available to lower our projected increase. This should be done without cutting athletic and other extracurricular activities which is always threatened.
On the City side, Police and Fire are always very difficult to address. Public safety is always an issue that no one would jeopardize. I would question the staffing levels understanding that there are regulations that we must follow.
v  One area that must be addressed concerning the Police and Firemen this year is GASB 45. The Firemen are awaiting the Arbitration award and I can understand their reluctance to enter into any further negotiations, but why are the police also reluctant? Gasb45 was addressed before I was elected to the Council, so to say that more time is needed, and more requests to the Police and Fire Unions to come to the table are necessary is just delaying the inevitable. It is also not offering the city the opportunity to realize a $700,000- to $800,000 savings in a year that we are hurting. Is the cities best interest ever served?
Finally, the rest of the municipal departments. We need our infrastructure to be upgraded on a consistent schedule. We want our Parks to remain the Gem of the City,. Our Library is outstanding and could be the nicest municipal building in town. The workers at City Hall do an excellent job assisting the public and assuring our City Government functions well. So where do we cut?
I believe some of the departments can be consolidated, thus eliminating some supervisory positions and providing better services by avoiding duplication. I believe the Department heads should be encouraged to streamline their department for the greatest efficiency. There should be flexibility in scheduling to allow for services to be offered when they are most needed. Work schedules must allow for utilization of manpower throughout the workforce. Do the Public Works Department and the Parks and Education all have to do outside maintenance work independent of each other? Would our playing fields and thus the public be better served by consolidating this function so a better product is created? What if there was a field crew that was assigned to specialize in field maintenance?
This is only one example of consolidation and utilization of all employees. How many additional areas should be addressed? How much better could we serve the public if the contracts allowed work to be done on a schedule that would also fit the needs of the public?
In closing, I realize I have presented ideas that may not be implemented now. However, if we are going to prosper in the future and continue to progress, these and many other situations need to be addressed.
 My role as a Councilman is relegated to voting for or against the budget. Until I am totally convinced that every area has been totally scrutinized, I will not support this budget. I do remain totally open to all information to assist me in my decision.
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Copyright 2010. All rights reserved.
Contact Steve Collins at scollins@bristolpress.com

19 comments:

wishy, washy said...

cop out mills, you stated areas of cuts and then said that they can't be implemented now - spit it out, are you in favor of the budget or not?

Anonymous said...

What about early retirement? and then not fill those positions?

Anonymous said...

Smoke and Mirrors!

Anonymous said...

"Until I am totally convinced that every area has been totally scrutinized, I will not support this budget. I do remain totally open to all information to assist me in my decision."

Maybe you didn't read all the way to the end of his press release.

Anonymous said...

Mills - all hat/no cowboy.

Anonymous said...

The city didnt fill 20,000 THOUSAND DOLLAR A YEAR jobs but added 20 new cops in the last 2years AT 80,000 DOLLARS A YEAR. Nice try. Explain that one. We need lat offs soon.

Anonymous said...

BRISTOL could save a lot of money just in the police dept. They keeping adding more personal and overtime. I say hire private co for street construction.

Anonymous said...

9:12

Check the budget, the city MAKES money on construction cops!

fiction said...

4:50 - facts speak louder than untrue rantings - grow up.

Anonymous said...

Ellen wanted to combine personnel dept with BOE because city director NOT certified to hire teachers this is OVER 100,000.00 per year plus benifits with just one position. do this NOW!

Anonymous said...

Mills states he will not support the current budget - that's pretty clear to me. He also comes up with some suggestions to areas that should be looked at for possible areas of cuts. Of course department heads will not voluntarily come up with suggestions to merge their department with an other department....i.e., "cut my job". Does the city need an outside view? Not to spend additional $$$, but the investment might be worth it.

Odin said...

"He also comes up with some suggestions to areas that should be looked at for possible areas of cuts."

Dave is a good guy and he means well, but the time has passed for elected officials to "suggest" areas that could be "looked at" for "possible savings". It's time for elected officials to take a stand and tell us which services must be cut, and which fees should be increased. They need to stop hiding behind "not my job" and start showing leadership. We need it bad.

Anonymous said...

12:00

Where is the Board of Finance?

The Mayor appointed, the Council approved: what were they thinking (not).

Anonymous said...

STOP the parties at the country club paid by the tax payers. Big party on wed.

Anonymous said...

1;09

Daves problem is that he has the wrong Republican advisors.

He doesn't know who go to, and therefore is being misled by those with their own agenda.

Anonymous said...

Big savings in the personal dept. But these guys will have no entertainment with out certain person.

Anonymous said...

Stop the party paid by the tax payers. Whats that about Steve. Country Club party hosted by TAX PAYERS.

Anonymous said...

As you said yourself David, "I am NOT an expert"!!!

Anonymous said...

When are these brave anonymous Republicans going to say who to cut? No guts ?