October 16, 2013

Wilson: Cockayne is making 'dangerous' promises

Press release from Democratic mayoral candidate Chris Wilson:

Wilson: Cockayne’s Election Year Promises Are Dangerous.

Democratic Mayoral candidate Chris Wilson thinks his opponent, Ken Cockayne, needs to be straight with voters about how he plans to pay for his latest campaign promises. "Additionally, Ken Cockayne has had six years on the Bristol City Council to make even one of the several proposals he's now made in the days leading up to the 2013 election.  Where’s he been for six years?” Wilson stated.

Wilson contends Mr. Cockayne either doesn't have a thorough understanding of city finances or he's simply pandering to Bristol's seniors.  Regardless, Wilson points out that Cockayne offers no hint of how he'd pay for his campaign promises.  “I've said it over and over, what Mr. Cockayne is doing isn't leadership. I doubt Bristol voters will be fooled by Ken’s all too recent campaign pledges," Wilson continued. 

Most egregious though, Wilson says, is the fact that Mr. Cockayne knows that Bristol residents, not the State of Connecticut, will need to find ways to pick up the tab for both a volunteer rebate and/or a Revolving Fund associated with a tax-freeze.  "The state doesn't have the money to cover Ken’s campaign promises, so Bristol tax-payers, including seniors, will need to cover the costs or suffer damaging service cuts. 

Wilson finds it ironic that Cockayne, a self-proclaimed fiscal conservative and taxpayer watchdog could turn into a tax-and-spend-liberal over night. "Over the past few weeks, Ken has been throwing our tax-dollars around like a drunken sailor.  He's promised $250,000 for blight,  volunteer rebates and now tax-freezes. But what Mr. Cockayne refuses to tell anyone is how he expects to pay for any of this without either dramatically raising taxes or slashing city services to the bone.  Mr. Cockayne's campaign promises strain credibility.”  Wilson added.

“For many Bristol families, the equity in their homes is a big part of their life’s savings.   Now, Ken Cockayne wants to pin that equity to property taxes and turn local governments into the bank that controls their property.  I can’t speak for everyone, but personally, the last group in the world I want controlling any more of my finances right now is the government.  Maybe Ken hasn’t noticed but the government is shut down because they can’t handle the financial responsibilities that have right now.”  Wilson said.

Unlike Cockayne’s recent campaign promises, Chris Wilson has proposed a “regular, rigorous, review” of Bristol’s city budget.  Wilson believes Bristol can unlock wasted resources by adopting real budget reform that reflects the fiscal practice known as Performance Based Budgeting.  PBB practitioners, a. establish priorities that differentiate between what the city council wants and what Bristol taxpayers can afford; b. set performance standards for every city department and c. conduct regular reviews of performance. 

“As a businessman, if my company is spending money on something and we aren’t getting a reasonable return on that investment, I need to think long and hard about whether or not we continue that spending? I want to apply that same mentality to city tax dollars.”  Wilson stated.

Wilson went on to say, “On the Board of Education, we returned $4,800,000.00 in surplus dollars to Bristol taxpayers, we received Zero school budget increases and we've kept Bristol schools strong.  Additionally, the BOE recovered $4,000,000.00 dollars from school renovation projects and came in $18 million dollars under budget on school construction projects.  That’s accountability to taxpayers.  That’s doing more with less. Taxpayers are tired of Mr. Cockayne's lip service.  They want results,” Wilson stated.

Wilson contends that in 2013-14; Bristol will spend about $185 million dollars.  He says the problem is that the City Council spends almost the entire budget process focusing on the 5 percent they cut rather than the 95 percent we keep.  The overwhelming majority of Bristol’s nearly one-fifth of a billion dollar budget will be spent without asking what we are trying to achieve by this spending, whether we are producing the results we expect to achieve, whether we can achieve better results through other means, or even whether we should be spending this money in the first place. 

“The fact is, under the current City Council’s watch, including my opponent Mr. Cockayne; the city budget went up by more than 20% over the past five years. Now that Mr. Cockayne is running for mayor, he wants us to believe he’s going to initiate consolidation and find savings all while giving away the farm.  If he’s such a fiscal watchdog, why has he waited so long to announce efforts to create efficiencies?  He’s had six years.  The fact is, while I’ve been on the Board of Education and Chairman, the city’s share of the education budget decreased, we gave $4,800,000.00 back to taxpayers. My opponent may not like these facts, but facts they remain.” Wilson stated.

Wilson concluded with, “a 1% savings from PBB could mean $1,850,000.00 for public safety, economic development, education and to fill the blight/code-enforcement officer position that Mr. Cockayne left vacant.  All without raising taxes one dime or making unsustainable promises to Bristol voters.”

Copyright 2013 All rights reserved. Contact Steve Collins at scollins@bristolpress.com

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