$508M Budget Passes; Future Ed Scrutiny Vowed

Thomas MacMillan PhotoA roller-coaster budget season came to an end amid a last-minute flurry of failed amendment proposals, and some hints of a new beginning.

The end came in the form of a Tuesday evening vote by the Board of Alders, approving an amended city budget for the fiscal year starting July 1.

The $508 million budget increases property taxes by 1.8 percent. That’s down from the $511 million budget initially proposed by Mayor Toni Harp, which would have raised taxes by 3.8 percent.

The Board of Alders Finance Committee reduced the tax hike in part by flat-funding education spending, rather than increasing it by $1.5 million, as Mayor Harp had proposed. The committee also cut workers compensation and found savings in personnel, and it added $2 million in expected building fees.

The approved budget includes three new positions requested by the mayor: a bilingual receptionist, a grants director, and a head of a new small and minority business initiative. It includes a new leasing program to pay for capital projects like new public works trucks, and a new line of bonding credit to help the city with month-to-month cash flow. Alders approved an amendment strictly limiting cash-flow borrowing to demonstrated need.

The new budget also includes an option to pay your annual car taxes in two installments rather than all at once.

Tuesday’s budget approval comprised a series of votes on spending and revenue plans and capital budgets. All items passed nearly unanimously. Newhallville/Prospect Hill Alder Michael Stratton was a holdout, joined in opposition on some votes by East Rock Alder Anna Festa. A seven-member “People’s Caucus” that formed at the beginning of this term ended up not materializing as an opposition bloc.

Stratton, who has emerged as a passionate advocate of budget reform, put forward a series of sweeping amendments, including cutting $112 million from education spending. All of his proposals failed. But his quest to start looking more closely in the future at how the Board of Education spends its money won adherents.

Finance Committee Chair Andrea Jackson-Brooks said that the approved budget strikes the “delicate balance” between not overburdening taxpayers and “meeting the city’s fiscal needs.”

“It is my hope that we can proactively move ahead together so that we can begin to address long-term budgeting issues and minimize budget growth without endangering loss of services to our city residents,” Jackson-Brooks said.

After the voting, Jackson-Brooks said that she’d like to see more dialogue between the Board of Ed and the Board of Alders in the coming year.

“I’d like people to step up as the year goes on” with “a little more participation,” Jackson-Brooks said.

“I think we need to help people to learn how the budget works,” said Board of Alders President Jorge Perez.

At a May 14 meeting of the Finance Committee, President Perez promised to consider a request by Stratton to form a task force to look into education funding.

“The good news is we’ve clarified the major budget issues and opportunities,” said Alder Stratton. He said he plans to continue pushing for deep cuts to education. “I think we should use this time now to do something.”

Amendments Nixed

On the floor Tuesday night, Stratton (pictured) proposed five amendments to the general fund.

Stop Pension Payments: The first would have deleted several line items entirely, including pension and employee benefits payments. Stratton said the charter requires all city spending to be allocated by department, and that it’s there for illegal to have line items that include spending on multiple departments lumped together.

Hill Alder Dolores Colon pointed out that the city is required by union contracts to make certain payments, the elimination of which would lead to lawsuits.

Raise Taxes To Pay For Youth Programs: Stratton then proposed increasing taxes by 0.5 mills in order to spend $3 million more on youth services, including summer jobs for every young person who wants one.

East Rock Alder Jessica Holmes said it would be irresponsible to approve a tax increase for “a nice idea” without details on how Stratton’s youth initiatives would work.

Raise Taxes To Pay For Cops: Stratton then proposed increasing taxes by 0.5 mills to give another $3 million to the police department so it could “reach universal community policing.”

The money would fund an incentive program to keep cops from retiring and assign three walking cops assigned to each ward.

Westville Alder Adam Marchand said the Board of Alders, as the “stewards” of city finances, couldn’t support last-minute proposals to increase taxes.

“If this crime wave continues it will have a much greater impact than 0.5 mills” in increased taxes, Stratton said.

Cut $6M From Education: Stratton proposed cutting $6 million from education spending. He said the Board of Ed should eliminate a “slush fund” of that size, called a “contingency fund.”

East Shore Alder Al Paolillo pointed out that the money in question is under “special funds” — grant money — and thus “not something we’re in a position to cut.”

Cut $112M From Education: Finally, when his $6 million cut was rejected, Stratton tried again, this time proposing a $112 million cut.

“I know this is a shocking amendment,” Stratton said. “I’m shocked to make this amendment.” He said he was shocked to learn this year that New Haven is funding education at a rate far higher than any other town in Connecticut, that if you factor in health care and pension payments for teachers, the city is paying some $112 million over the state’s minimum budget requirement for education spending.

If the city cut that $112 million, it could implement a comprehensive youth program with mentoring, sports, and after-school activities, and pay for more police, and still have $80 million left over for a tax cut.

“This amendment would be a travesty,” said Upper Westville Alder Darryl Brackeen. It would “devastate the city.”

Alder Paolillo said the cut would amount to giving back millions and millions of Educational Cost Sharing dollars from the state.

All of Stratton’s proposed general fund amendments failed.

He also proposed amendments to the capital fund, including eliminating a $620,000 subsidy to Tweed Airport. The airport is used only by the suburbs and by Yale University, he said. “If Yale wants an airport, Yale will pay for an airport.”

Alder Holmes said that the city has an obligation to pay the subsidy, due to existing investment by the Federal Aviation Administration. The feds could sue New Haven if it doesn’t pay.

After the voting, Board of Ed COO Will Clark said he was “very glad to see the vast majority of alders with us in the fight for school reform.”

“I think it’s important that alders affirmed the historic relationship with us,” Harries said.

Schools Superintendent Garth Harries said the Board of Alders vote to flat-fund education means the Board of Ed still has a budget gap of about $4.5 million to make up, which will require some very difficult decisions.

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posted by: robn on May 28, 2014  8:31am

New Haven has one of the highest ratios of employees to citizen in the US. This government is WAY too big and the union dominated BOA refuses to acknowledge that clear fact.

posted by: Noteworthy on May 28, 2014  9:32am

Budget Notes:

1. This budget strikes a “delicate balance” says Finance Chair Andrea Jackson Brooks. No it doesn’t. It once again raises taxes, just like budgets under DeStefano. It found no real savings, cut no departments, and is not rooted in “results based budgeting” Harp promised and said she believed in when she ran for that office. The city’s “financial needs” is a shopping cart full of “wants” not needs.

2. Together, board President Jorge Perez and Brooks insult us again. Brooks says she’d like more people to step up and participate and Perez said we all need an education on the budget. Why should more people participate when the only people Brooks and Perez listen to, are people who agree with their mindless go along, pass a budget mentality. More education on the budget? Try educating the BOR and the members of the Finance Committee first.

3. This budget found no real savings, held the BOE to no standard of accountability and continued the hideous practice of comingling BOE expenses with the general fund.

4. Alderman Al Paolillo gets singled out for yet another round of patently false statements re: cuts to the BOE - that it will lead to giving up millions of dollars in ECS funds. It is false and he knows it. While one can argue that cutting education by $112 million is not wise - it has been proven time and again that we are and have been for years and years - been spending more on education than what the state requires on the MBR. Why does Paolillo continue this lie?

posted by: middle on May 28, 2014  10:27am

Mr. Stratton,

You tried the soapbox method of inspiring change (yell at them until they bend to your will). Please try the slow and steady organizer method next. We won’t get any real change if they can paint you as the “crazy person.” New Haven is worth the effort.

posted by: Brutus2011 on May 28, 2014  11:02am

Well, this is our system at work.

Policy paradox and political reason.

I, for one, am encouraged at the debate—both in BOA chambers, among private citizens and here in the NHI comments section.

Lets all keep participating in our representative democracy. If we do, maybe we will get it right or at least make things better.

posted by: TheMadcap on May 28, 2014  11:21am

I still disagree about the airport. Yeah, most people using it do come from the suburbs, but it’s the same with Union station. The fact is those people are going to travel and if so I’d like them and more importantly their dollars they might spend when getting off the plane coming into New Haven businesses vs going up north to Bradley or the NYC airports. It’s not like Tweed needs to be something that can compete with Bradley or anything, if it can attract a carrier willing to add just one route to a major connection hub like DC or Chicago it could go a long way to bringing in money to the local economy as well as making the airport self sustaining.

posted by: Razzie on May 28, 2014  11:43am

Cut $112M From Education: ... “This amendment would be a travesty,” said Upper Westville Alder Darryl Brackeen. It would “devastate the city.”

I was under the earlier impression that Alder Brackeen (a BoE employee), and any other Alders similarly employed by the Bd of Education, would be abstaining from direct matters that involved BoE funding. This abstention was supposed to be based upon conflict of interest principles.  If that is not the case, then that matter should certainly be put on for further study and BoA action, including the participation of Labor employees in matters directly affecting collective bargaining and other direct labor interests.

posted by: RHeerema on May 28, 2014  12:39pm

The $620,000 subsidy to Tweed Airport is pouring good money after bad.  How many subsidies & how many studies will be required?  I sincerely doubt that FAA would sue: they’d just take back their money. When will Tweed be self-sufficient?  Tweed requires BIG subsidies from federal, state and local sources.  People would need to bring in $620,000 ANNUALLY in increased spending to make this budget expenditure worthwhile.  What’s the ROI, for real?  Nothing like $620k.

posted by: TheMadcap on May 28, 2014  1:28pm

“Tweed requires BIG subsidies from federal, state and local sources”

This describes most of the airline industry though. A good deal of the nation’s airports would have to close without subsidies of some sort.

posted by: Dwightstreeter on May 28, 2014  1:29pm

Razzie, you make a good observation about the issue of conflict of interest. Unfortunately New Haven has a very weak and ambiguous Code of Ethics and is in need of a strong Code with an Ethics Commission to enforce by rules by assisting people before there is an issue.

The Charter Revision Commission completely ignored the issue on the last round.

As for the budget,kabuki theater was never my favorite.

posted by: Webblog1 on May 28, 2014  2:07pm

It never ceases to amaze me how every year the BOA imitates a reduction to the mayor’s proposed increased budget, then they settles for a tax rate increase and call that a victory for their taxpaying constituents. (Finance Committee Chair Andrea Jackson-Brooks said that the approved budget strikes the “delicate balance” between not overburdening taxpayers and “meeting the city’s fiscal needs.”

At the same time these alders are quoted making false and miss-leading statement such as;

1. Perez- “I think we need to help people to learn how the budget works”.

Help what people?

Heck, twenty six members of the BOA do not know how the budget works, yet they vote in favor of the budget each year without exception.

2. Westville Alder Adam Marchand said the Board of Alders, as the “stewards” of city finances, couldn’t support last-minute proposals to increase taxes.

Well if you read the article isn’t that what the BOA just did?

3. Alder Paolillo said the cut would amount to giving back millions and millions of Educational Cost Sharing dollars from the state. That’s nonsense; the $112M in-kind contribution from city to BOE based on a 25 year old handshake has absolute no bearing of the states minimum budget requirement which currently is 177,219M.

4.Schools Superintendent Garth Harries said the Board of Alders vote to flat-fund education means the Board of Ed still has a budget gap of about $4.5 million to make up.

Stop the whining Harries, you and the BOE board, including the mayor, built in a 5.3M deficit to start with.
I rate the BOA a “D” and that’s only because they showed up.

The facts..
1. The mayor’s budget anticipated ECS funding of $152,641M. Actual is-$159,924M, increase - $7,283M.
2. The mayor’s budget anticipated pilot(s) funding of $60,423M, actual is - $60,584.

3. Total anticipated $213,065M, actual is- $220,512 totaling a $7,445M increase in state aid. That equals a 1.4 Mill increase in state aid that is not mentioned by the mayor or the alders.

posted by: Webblog1 on May 28, 2014  2:37pm

@posted by: RHeerema on May 28, 2014 12:39pm

“The $620,000 subsidy to Tweed Airport is pouring good money after bad”.

Not entirely RHeerema, you commenting on the words as expressed by Stratton. There he goes again shooting from the lip.

The fact:
The NH airport is owned by the city of New Haven. The $620K bond subsidy this year is the city’s match to receive $2,112M from the fed; and $158K from the state of Connecticut, for run- way improvements.

The city could sell the Airport, but would only do so in a deal similar to the Shubert, where the alders approved to pay Capa for buying the Shubert from the city and in addition, receive $250K a year for five years. Stratton failed to mention this.

Also, the city provides the airport 325K in general funds monies, presumably to pay employee salaries and benefits each year. Stratton also failed to notice this fund.

posted by: Noteworthy on May 28, 2014  2:45pm

Karaoke and Kabuki Budget Notes:

1. The lip synch their concerns, but in reality is just the same old, same old dance.

2. Ever losing and permanent dependency airport Tweed, gets more money. This “private” airport and its board of entitlement experts refuse to make decisions that yield solutions. They’re still waiting on Super Man in the form of more passengers, another airline and more handouts.

3. Adds a $50 million line of credit because the city is cash poor.

4. Adds another $43 million in debt.

5. Adds lease debt.

6. Incorporates all the executive raises, including Toni Harp’s - and continues her armed chauffeurs while adding money for what we hope will be the last of her list of patronage jobs.

7. Under-funds pensions again by assuming a higher return than the fund has seen in years.

9. Allows the BOE to escape any scrutiny of its budget mess and continues to over-fund its operations by massive, dishonest amounts.

10. The negotiated budget was done behind closed doors and as usual, the baby was cut in half. Unlike Solomon’s story, there was no real mother who said “no.” There were two surrogate parents (the BOR and the Harp House) who frankly, didn’t give a damn about higher taxes.

11. Embraces status quo.

And as a general comment on this year’s budget process - it was a complete, unmitigated disgrace the likes of which I’ve never seen anywhere in 30 years.

Because of personal animus against Ald. Stratton and his pointed grilling, questions went unanswered, and department heads escaped to overspend another day. But we did learn that City Hall has been lying for years about the education budget; that there was never a strategy or goals for union negotiations and that “results based budgeting” is a myth and a political stunt.

The board president, the chairman of the Finance Committee and others who sat piously around that table saying little or nothing of value, should all resign.

posted by: Noteworthy on May 28, 2014  2:56pm

Weblog Notes:

Excellent post and Noteworthy for its detail on the anticipated but under-counted state support payments to New Haven. If these additional funds of more than $7 million were included in the budget, taxpayers likely could have escaped any increase.

There is a lack of honesty and transparency in this budget. Combine that with all out efforts to protect the status quo while increasing spending only coarsens the public discourse and grows the cynicism with which we view those who serve us so poorly.

Weblog was kind in giving a “D” for a grade. I rate it an “F” because you can still show up for class and fail.

posted by: sccampion on May 28, 2014  3:01pm

Another sad and hurtful budget hoisted on the backs of New Haven residents. The 2014-15 budget process is memorable for the blatant disrespect shown by the Finance Chair, Alder Brooks, and Perez urging the public “to participate”  in a deal that was probably set in January! Come on now, the community has observed this dull and gamed charade for far too many years. The good people of New Haven are very wise and know the real deal.
  Flawed leadership, Big Time! Where are the other 20 or so Alders’ serious fiscal innovations and amendments to cut expenditures, advocate for a more efficient city government, and, not add one more tax dollars to their constituents’ horrific tax burden. Appalling conduct for elected officials charged with acting as the fiscal trustees for the constituents whom they serve.
  Kudos to the city’s budget advocates, super folks like Ken Joyner and Gary Doyens. These residents consistently show-up, year after year, for the rest of us, to present serious and innovative fiscal remedies to address the bloated, defective budget.
  Special appreciation to freshmen Alders for their brave and mindful leadership. Alder Brackeen, thank you for your attempt to honestly engage the public with a petition to decrease taxes. Alder Festa, thank you for your tireless and diligent preparation and presentation of evidence-based justification on the administration’s new positions. The community will wait and watch the “results-based” performance of these new additions. Lastly, Alder Stratton, you offered yourself up to be the BoA’s favorite “scape goat”. The old timers have been using this technique for years. You did not back down and took the hits for all the residents, who had similar questions. Your exhaustive research on the BoE financials and the city-state connection on Pilot funds have raised serious questions that will not go away!
  Budget 2014-15’s result—a Record of How this Administration honors the public trust.

posted by: RHeerema on May 28, 2014  3:12pm

@Webblog1 - my question stands: what is the return on investment to New Haven by these subsidies?

$2,112,000 from the federal gov’t
$158,000 from the state of Connecticut
$625,000 City of New Haven
=$2,895,000 for paving the runway safety zones. This move is hotly contested by many residents as breaking the 2009 agreement between Tweed, City of New Haven and City of East Haven.

On top of that capital investment (like New Haven needs to add more debt?), $325,000/annually from City of New Haven? When does it end? What is the economic impact? What is the quality of life impact?  Noise. Leaded airplane fuel poisoning the air. Paving more of the wetlands & increasing flooding.

What’s the return on investment for these monies again? I don’t see the big win for taxpayers.

posted by: getyourfactstraight on May 28, 2014  5:15pm

Oldest trick in the book played out once again by the BOA! Taxes go up and they lower the raise just a bit and look to the public to be pleased. Are you kidding me? This budget will never be balanced until this BOA figure out to balance a budget you have to take into consideration the taxpayers.

posted by: kenjoyner on May 28, 2014  5:28pm

@Susan Campion; Thank you for your acknowledgement.

Let me give you my perspective developed with a ring side view.

There have been other budget advocates who have since ended their direct involvement in the budget process. One of the most notable is David Cameron who chaired the New Haven charter established financial review and audit commission(FRAC). Frac is established to advise and recommend to the finance committee through monthly reports, on how the city departments are complying with their individual line items against budget.

Unfortunately, I can attest that the finance committee hardly ever read his reports, much less acted upon his predicted and recommended actions to alleviate looming deficits for FY 11,12 and 13.

I believe the problem(s) with determining a good annual fiscal budget first lie in the actual knowledge of our income derived from our benefactors.. Federal, state and grantors.

Since the state prepares a bi-annual budget, which is 50% of the city’s total general fund budget, it seems prudent for the city to seek legislative approval from the state to set a bi-annual budget as well. Currently our budget is estimated and most often far off the final grant amounts, which aren’t known until after our budget is voted and finalized, and never seem to be re-factored into our operating line items, thus producing a built in deficit on paper.

The second and equally important facet of the budget, is the public’s involvement beyond just the three public hearings, which are not well attended.

If more public persons, particularly from the wards of the finance committee members were regularly in attendance, you would see alders prepared, knowledgeable and willing to take a responsible part in budget development, rather than allowing the leadership to make the decisions in consultation with the mayor’s office off line and out of public view, producing a budget each year detested by most taxpayers.

posted by: Dwightstreeter on May 28, 2014  6:12pm

Yogi said it best: “It’s deja vu all over again!”

posted by: Callisto on May 29, 2014  6:22am

[yawn….] it’s common knowledge that Libertarians want to eradicate the Board of Ed so this anti-teacher diatribe is nothing new. $112 million hacked from public education? - now that’s thinking outside the box! Going after bloated admin (a closer look at Meadow Street salaries, educational credentials and nepotistic family connections is long overdue) or Tweed seems reasonable given their value to the society at large. Assailing the pensions and benefits of teachers on the front lines every day as they negotiate increasingly opaque corporate directives from “above” seems, well, like an Ayn Rand novel gone awry. Keep up the drum beat of “reform” on one hand and this slash-and-burn pension talk on the other and watch the dwindling number of great teachers flee New Haven. Let’s see if Ron Paul has any more kids willing to run the BOA…. Oy

posted by: steve on May 29, 2014  10:21am

So much misinformation about Tweed. The Yale factor is bogus, most of the users of Tweed are average people with no connection to Yale. Paving the overruns will not be paving wetlands, the overruns are gravel. Many are not aware how many times airlines surveyed Tweed for more service and it all ended the same way, runway too short for dependable service in all types of weather conditions. While many say the runway is 5600 feet long, in actuality it is 5250 feet long due to 350 feet marked off at the start of runway 20.
Paving the overruns will remove the last impediment to increased service and allow Tweed to meet the needs of area travelers and increase its income, more passengers, more income.
There is a good market for air travel in the area and with the airport being able to receive more types of airliners as opposed to one type at present, flights to 2 or 3 hub airports will enable Tweed to realize its potential.
It all comes down to one issue, airlines cannot commit to new service at Tweed until the runway is optimized and until then, it will never be able to support more service.
Almost 40,000 use the commercial service at Tweed yearly and that’s not counting private and charter flights.
Before some criticize the airport, get to know the facts as to why Tweed is not able to offer more service, its not because there is not a market for air travel here or airlines are not interested in Tweed, its the physical constraints that blocks no service.

posted by: TheMadcap on May 29, 2014  10:47am


If you want the literal dollar return on investment, that’s an interesting question. It may have a known answer as the state or a private group may have done a study on this, but I don’t know. What I do know though is for every dollar NH puts in we get 4 more from the feds/state to keep open an airport that even with only one destination still had 38,000 passenger embankments a year as well as a litany of private craft. The airport has potential, it’s among our most under utilized economic tools right now. we’re one of the few small sized cities that can even say we have a functioning passenger airport bringing people in and out, it’s not something we should just leave to rot.

posted by: FacChec on May 29, 2014  11:24am

For three months the finance committee has been “hard” at work producing the 2015 budget resulting in the following recommendations for tax relief.

First one must understand that 1 mill equals $5.8M. The committee’s hard work successfully trimmed the mayor’s general fund budget $740K in department line item spending and 1.5M city funding to the BOE. (Note) the State of CT increased the BOE grant $4.1M over the 2014 grant.

Grand total relief = 2.24M, equates to 0.38 of a mill reduction, from a $510.7M requested GF budget to $508M.

But wait, it’s not over yet, at the same time the committee approved an increase in bond fund borrowing by 11M over the 2014 budget. From 33M to 44M, much of this increase is going towards the self insurance fund deficit(2M) to pay for our city employees successful law suits, and to bond for, downtown crossing(6M) Shubert theater($1.4M) Housing Authority($4.1M) housing authority??..And public works $3.8M for vehicles.

In addition, the committee and the entire BOA approved the mayor’s recommendation to up the credit card debt an additional 50M; in case the aforementioned is not enough and /or our cash flow doesn’t quite flow, bringing our current city debt to over $800M.

And if that isn’t enough the committee and the BOA also approved increasing parking tickets from $30.00 to $50.00, which triples in three weeks if unpaid, for the violation of parking within 25 feet from a corner intersection.  In exchange for the tax increase, taxpayers received no new lighthouse fee ($5.00) and the luxury of paying your car tax twice a year rather than once on July 1st.

On the cover story page of this article, committee chair, Alder Jackson-Brooks said:

Let’s be “proactive” on the next budget.

Really, seriously Ms Jackson- Brooks?

posted by: TheMadcap on May 29, 2014  12:36pm

Another comments about Tweed. It’s important to remember that Tweed won’t exist in a vacuum as we’re not an isolated city. Once the NH-Hartford-Springfield commuter railroad begins, NH will be the starting point/terminus of 3 different commuter railways heading in 3 different directions. There’s only 4 miles between the airport and Union Station. This is a serious connection possibility that should be promoted.

posted by: Noteworthy on May 29, 2014  1:22pm

@Madcap @Steve @Tweed Notes:

1. Tweed’s problem is that there are fewer airlines today because of consolidation.

2. Airlines are cutting back routes and numbers of planes while adding seats, herding people on to more and more crowded planes and raising fares.

3. Enplanements at BDL have been declining and Tweed’s have been flat to down for years now.

4. The regional and state economy is not growing except in eds and meds. Wages are stagnant and with inflation, middle income families are seeing real declines in HH income. At the same time, insurance, income taxes, fees and fines, property taxes and college expenses and food are climbing so fast they dwarf the rate of inflation.

5. Tweed largely serves the well heeled, well off and corporate interests like Yale and Yale New Haven Hospital. Tickets are Tweed cost more and that’s to connect to Philadelphia. You can fly cheaper out of BDL and any of the NYC airports.

6. Five years from now, like five years ago, you will be saying how Tweed coulda and can be, but the same sorry song will actually be playing - New Haven will write a dependency check and allow the Tweed Airport Authority to keep on borrowing money in our name.

7. My continuing beef with the airport management and board is that they sit on their hands, when their hand is not outstretched for more money and do nothing to help themselves. They just know how to beg. All that’s missing are cardboard signs.

8. The people who use Tweed should be forced to pay for its operation. The rents at Tweed should go up; parking at Tweed should go up; a user fee should be applied to every ticket; and every private plane that lands - and that number is growing - should go up until the airport can support itself.

9. Passing on tax increases to the middle class via their homes or rents so that the 1% can have what amounts to a private airport is stupid and irresponsible. The solutions are staring the airport board in the face. It should get to work, do its job.

posted by: TheMadcap on May 29, 2014  3:55pm


While many of your points are spot on, the issue is it applies to almost every airport in the country. The air industry receives huge subsidies to make it even remotely affordable whether it’s through direct subsidies or tax credits(or in some nation’s cases just straight up funding a national carrier). And airports in the general sense do not serve the poor/middle class. The poor barely fly at all. The middle class may do it a few times a year at most to see family/go on vacation. Most travel miles though on planes are racked up by people traveling on business, and why most may not be wealthy, they’re generally not living paycheck to paycehck. The same arguments could, and occasionally are from people elsewhere in the state, used against Metro-north and Shore Line east. They are subsidies and the fact is a disproportionate amount of their daily travel miles per person is coming from upper middle class people. I mean in the general sense, poor people barely travel at all and working class people travel very infrequently, when a city is trying to lure more people who are traveling into it, it is the upper classes. They’re the ones with money and jobs to travel and dollars in their pocket to potentially spend here.

posted by: steve on May 29, 2014  7:38pm

Some are missing the point, without paving the overruns which by the way will remain overruns meaning that landing aircraft have to fly beyond the paved overrun to touch down on, other types of airliners apart from the Dash-8 which currently serves Tweed cannot operate from Tweed in its present state.
Going back to when United had flights from Tweed to Chicago which were very popular with area travelers had at times to limit the number of seats that could be filled due to weight restrictions stemming from the limited runway length and even back to Eastern airlines and its flight to Washington,DC, those flights were also weight restricted
Today, airlines need a 90% to 100% load factor to be profitable due to jet fuel being over 3.00 per gallon.
Over the last 5 years there have been 4 airline mergers but that does not pose a problem for Tweed.With American at Tweed, it opens the possibility of adding service to hub airports in Chicago and Charlotte,and if Delta would return to Tweed,it would open up the possibility of service to Detroit and Atlanta.
So having fewer airlines has no bearing on gaining new service at Tweed.
Tweed already adds a fee to every ticket sold and landing fees along with airline counter rental fees and other fees added to rental cars are in place. More passengers would increase income and Usairways receives no subsidy to serve Tweed.
While at times tickets at tweed might be higher, when one factors in the cost of traveling to out of state airports, Tweeds prices are competitive.
It all boils down to the limited runway length, its not that the airlines don’t want to serve Tweed, they cannot do it dependably day in and day out in all weather conditions.
In paving the overruns which are on airport land, no homes would have to be taken and no roads closed.
Airports with good service have runways 6000-6500 feet, Tweed has a runway 5600 feet long but 350 feet are blocked off on the beginning of runway 20.
Its the runway and nothing else.

posted by: SteveOnAnderson on May 30, 2014  12:08pm

Question: Shouldn’t we also be looking at the budgets of comparable cities? How does New Haven look? Obviously, this doesn’t take into account many of the important differences between the cities, but it seems like something helpful to know. It looks to me like New Haven’s budget is relatively low.

(2013 population estimates in parentheses)

Hartford (125,017) - $557.4 million
Stamford (126,456) - $508 million
New Haven (130,660) - $508 million
Syracuse, NY (144,669)- $660 million
Bridgeport (147,216) - $522.9 million
Springfield, MA (153,703) - $581.9 million
Providence (177,994) - $678.4 million
Worcester (182,544) - $575 million

I strongly disagree with the sentiment that we should have as low a city budget as possible. To repeat what I’ve said in the past, I would like to see greater scrutiny of the budget, tax relief, AND a higher budget. We should not shortchange schools or cut workers’ wages and benefits. The non-profits in the city need to pay their fair share, which is tens of millions of dollars a year more than now.

posted by: FacChec on May 30, 2014  12:55pm

@posted by: SteveOnAnderson on May 30, 2014 12:08pm
Your question:
“Shouldn’t we also be looking at the budgets of comparable cities?”.

Short answer, ...NO.
While your population and GF budget estimates may be close to accurate, it is immaterial to your question.

There are NO two cities comparable in grand list, exempt properties, mill rate, capital bond spending,  #of autos, # of total employees, bond rating, grants from federal, state and other sources. #law suits against, assessments, court challenges to assessment, elderly and vets tax breaks, uncollectable taxes, and on and on….

Long answer…NO….

In fact you said as much yourself “Obviously, this doesn’t take into account many of the important differences between the cities”.

“I strongly disagree with the sentiment that we should have as low a city budget as possible.
A low as possible city budget indicates that the city is being run efficiently and effectively.

New Haven is not short changing education.

The 1.5M increase the BOE is seeking was entirely for personnel cost, none for kids first.

If you would like to see a higher budget, obviously, you believe spending more tax money on a problem produces greater results.

Not happening, never will!!!

posted by: robn on May 30, 2014  1:54pm


Way to cherry pick the most wastefully expensive cities.

In population of US cities, New Haven is #195, Worcester, MA is #129. Sample back in the ones you “missed” and your story will be far less convincing.

I cross referenced available census data for 100 US cities of varying scale and (including county employment for states with county government) found New Haven to be at the top of the list for employee-per-citizen ratios.

posted by: SteveOnAnderson on May 30, 2014  2:58pm

@robn: I looked at the US population list and included cities *in the region* that are roughly comparable to New Haven. If there are relevant cities I missed, by all means add them to the discussion. I’m not sure why you approach all exchanges assuming others to be disingenuous from the outset.

@FacChec: Both your short and long answers seem awfully narrow-minded. Comparisons with other cities can bring up interesting questions about what the differences and similarities are, and help us get a better grasp of what is particular about New Haven’s situation and what is shared with other cities. That seems eminently reasonable to me, both in figuring out what we might learn to do better and in understanding how certain budget challenges are not unique to us.

City budgets have an internal logic to them, and I have learned a lot from “watchdogs” who scrutinize our budget. But New Haven does not exist in isolation. The current discussion about the BoE, for instance, is missing the national context in which our public school system is currently undergoing one of the largest transformations in its history. If we’re too insular in our analyses, we miss out on the fact that public schools are being transformed into charter schools across the country, and boards of education have been battlegrounds for education reform. As is the case with many issues in life, things that look one way in isolation may appear quite differently when considered in relation to others.

As for size, a budget reflects all sorts of things beyond “being run efficiently and effectively.” It shows the priorities of a city, how we imagine ourselves and our relations to others, much of which cannot be directly quantified in economic terms. Advocating spending is not just blind faith that “spending more tax money on a problem produces greater results,” but a belief that money well spent—on parks, schools, social programs, transportation, jobs, etc.—can improve urban life for all city residents.

posted by: SteveOnAnderson on May 30, 2014  3:25pm

@robn, There are some problems with using Census data for city employee-per-citizen ratios. Not sure what the consequences are exactly for New Haven’s ranking, but certainly quite relevant…

1) “The Census Bureau excluded from [the Public Employment] figures all teachers and education professionals, which make up the largest group of local government employees.”

2) “The figures also do not include separate government divisions that comprise significant portions of many urban public workforces, like the 1,200-employee Baltimore City Housing Authority, the 1,000-employee Philadelphia Housing Authority and the 2,300 employee Chicago Park District.”

3) “Transit systems, such as the 9,500-worker Chicago Transit Authority and New York’s 7,000-person Port Authority, are also not counted.”

4) “In different places, levels of government have different cost-sharing arrangements, with the state, county and special taxation districts for services like sewage picking up part of the tab, so these figures represent somewhat less than all of the government employees for which residents of a jurisdiction support with tax dollars.”

Source: http://washingtonexaminer.com/exography-19-u.s.-cities-have-proportionately-bigger-workforces-than-bankrupted-detroit/article/2533338

posted by: robn on May 30, 2014  3:47pm


I’m showing reasonable skepticism. For instance here’s a list of American cities sorted by population.


The city just above New Haven is Sterling Heights Michigan (pop 131,224)which has an $85M budget. This figure looks like it might exclude education but even if that added @40% as it does here, they’re nowhere near the budgets of the cities you listed.


This immediately draws skepticism. You, not I, have to do your own research to back up your assertions.

posted by: robn on May 30, 2014  4:43pm


Excellent point. The WE study excluded teachers. Do you have a source for how many of NH’s 5000 employees are teachers? I’ll redo my math.

posted by: robn on May 30, 2014  5:15pm


OK you’ve thrown the right monkey wrench but cutting my NH employee number in half (very limited data suggests this might be the number of education employees and this is a very aggressive reduction of city employee numbers), NH still sits within the top third of cities with available data. And we all know that many 100s of New Haven’s top paid employees (“administrators”) are in the education department. I don’t see how we can justify hiring people with about a decade under their belt into 6 figure salaries plus bennies.

posted by: TheMadcap on May 30, 2014  8:06pm

Sterling Height’s budget from CT perspective is just absurd. I mean education isn’t counted in it so right off the bat you need to probably at least double the budget. Even still though, for example Branford’s budget was $102,401,697 with a population of under 30,000. One issue is CT has no county government, we fund all services at the extreme local level so all of our towns will wind up having higher budgets than average. Also, in regards to services to the city’s residents the town may have to provide, Sterling is:
About 4.0% of families and 5.2% of the population were below the poverty line, including 6.6% of those under age 18 and 7.5% of those age 65 or over.

Meanwhile in NH
About 20.5% of families and 24.4% of the population live below the poverty line, including 32.2% of those under age 18 and 17.9% of those age 65 or over

posted by: robn on May 31, 2014  7:45am


There’s an essential problem with your logic as you continually state that (I paraphrase) “we’re a poor city and therefore we need to spend more money.”

posted by: TheMadcap on May 31, 2014  6:48pm

There’s no logic problem, poor cities actually have to provide more services for their poor citizens. There’s more people that need food help, there’s more crime that needs more police, there’s more disadvantaged kids who need more educational services, there’s more homeless people requiring services, there’s generally far more that needs to be done in terms of public works, ect, ect.

posted by: robn on May 31, 2014  10:37pm


New Haven doesn’t “have” to do anything. It “chooses” to tax a certain amount in order to spend a certain amount. The result is discouraging middle class people and capital from settling in the city because they know that they have a target on their back. And the result of that is the poor get poorer (as has been happening for the past 50 years in this city because our elected officials took the goals of LBJs great society as permission to treat the middle class as a piggy bank.)

posted by: robn on June 2, 2014  7:56am


Increasing taxes to the point where you mummify or decrease the tax base (where we are now) does not help the poor. Attracting homesteaders with disposable income to the city will enliven the local economy and will help the poor by increasing tax revenue and creating job opportunities.