Leaner City Budget Advances

Markeshia Ricks Photo Mayor Toni Harp’s proposed new city budget shrank by more than $13.2 million Wednesday night, and may shrink more by the time it gets final approval.

The Board of Alders Finance Committee voted to approve the new version of the general operating budget the the fiscal year that starts July 1, now set at $541.3 million, after reviewing cuts made in the wake of consultations between the Harp and administration and leading alders.

The two sides agreed that it no longer made sense to pass a budget that counts on $31 million in increased state aid for the coming year, since the governor has announced deep cuts in planned aid for all cities (except Hartford, which faces bankruptcy) in the wake of a projected $5 billion two-year state deficit.

City Budget Director Joe Clerkin detailed the $13 million in trimmed proposed spending to the alders before the Finance Committee voted Tuesday night. Alders agreed that by the time the full board votes on the budget in the first week of June, more cuts may well be necessary based on the uncertainty at the state Capitol.

New Haven’s revised budget for 2017-18 assumes a savings of $9.2 million through restructuring city debts with lower interest rates and factoring in expected premiums and refunds collected on bond sales; $5 million on the city’s debt service with any new debt it incurs; a $1 million reduction in a planned increase in money set aside for the city’s medical self-insurance funds; a $1 million reduction in transportation funding for the Board of Education; a $1.7 million savings on non-personnel costs through an annual program of examining department-by-department spending; and a savings $350,000 by further not filling vacant positions.

Clerkin said the original budget had not assumed any savings when it came to the city’s debt, but the revised budget assumes that the city will obtain a better interest rate when it markets its bonds.

The budget also assumes revenue adjustments that would keep the car tax at 37 mills instead of dropping to 32 mills. The real estate and personal property mill rate would remain 38.68. The budget doesn’t completely give up on obtaining increased state aid; it still assumes about $21 million based on the current number in Gov. Dannel P. Malloy’s revised proposed budget. That number assumes that some form of a tax (or payment in lieu of taxes) will be instituted for real estate owned by not-for-profit hospitals.

Budget Director Clerkin assured alders Wednesday night that this will not be the final revision.

“When we submitted the budget back in March it was premised with us receiving a great deal of aid from the state,” he said. “I think what we’ve done in this package is to realize that we are still going to need significant resources from the state and from our voluntary partners, but we reduced that now significantly.”

Westville Alder Adam Marchand commended the administration for “sharpening the pencil” and making"good faith efforts” to adjust the budget in a substantial way, though he did question the wisdom of reducing funding that would go toward paying for medical benefits—and\ area of the city’s budget that is chronically underfunded.

With little wiggle room and only further uncertainty on the horizon, alders deliberated over a handful of amendments that didn’t ultimately impact the Harp administration’s new spending plan.

Alders Anna Festa of East Rock and Alphonse Paolillo Jr. of the Annex pushed to remove an additional $100,000 that the revised proposed city budget would give the Connecticut Open tennis tournament. The money would bump up the city’s contribution to that annual tournament to $200,000. Festa and Paolillo argued that the money could be put to better used somewhere else in the budget.

“This is bad timing,” Festa, who put forth and amendment to remove the additional funding, said.

But Alders Jeanette Morrison of Dixwell and Tyisha Walker of West River argued that in addition to providing a boost to restaurants and hotels in the city, the tournament provides additional short-term jobs during its two-week run and programming in the neighborhoods. Walker said she wants to see economic impact stats from the tournament before deciding to remove the money.

Festa’s amendment failed in a 5 to 4 vote. Hill Alder Dave Reyes abstained.

Alders agreed to the following policy amendments offered by Paolillo before voting the budget out of committee, which :

• Sequester any funds above $1 million for both the fire and police department budgets so that both chiefs have to come back to the Finance Committee and explain why they need to spend more.

•  Remove a proposed increase in what the city’s anti-blight agency, Livable City Initiative, can charge for the residential licensing and inspection of properties. Alders seek a separate public hearing on the need for the increase.

• Establish that when the chief of police is out of town, the assistant chief in charge of patrol is in charge of the department.

• Require that any request for an increase in executive management salaries — such as for mayoral aide Jason Bartlett — be brought back to the Board of Alders for approval.

Tags: ,

Post a Comment

Commenting has closed for this entry

Comments

posted by: Anderson Scooper on May 18, 2017  8:12am

What percentage of the city budget goes to city employees’ salaries & benefits?

What percentage of those employees live in the suburbs?

At what point does the City start asking for give-backs? I mean City employees, as a whole, have it pretty good. Your average homeowner? Staggering from some of the highest property tax rates in all of America!

posted by: THREEFIFTHS on May 18, 2017  10:23am

posted by: Anderson Scooper on May 18, 2017 8:12am

What percentage of the city budget goes to city employees’ salaries & benefits?

The percentage that the City and City Employees agree upon.

What percentage of those employees live in the suburbs?

Your point?

At what point does the City start asking for give-backs? I mean City employees, as a whole, have it pretty good.

They have gave back.In fact some of them have been working without a contract.

Your average homeowner? Staggering from some of the highest property tax rates in all of America!

The highest property tax rates are not just because of City employees salaries.

posted by: Perspective on May 18, 2017  10:24am

@ Scooper
What percentage of the cities budgeted services (education,etc) goes to illegal “undocumented” immigrants? I find it ironic the city that prides itself on being a sanctuary city has an issue with ‘outsiders’ holding municipal jobs within ‘their’ city.

posted by: RZ on May 18, 2017  11:58am

Did I read the article correctly? The city would like to double the contribution to the tennis tournament from $100,000 to $200,000 and the alders voted yes? It’s extraordinary that in this financial climate the funding increase was proposed at all. Heck, I’d say that if the city really does have $200,000 to give away, let’s use the money far more carefully, to benefit the entire community.

posted by: Bill Saunders on May 18, 2017  12:23pm

I think the budget director was either misquoted or misspoke.

What he meant was:

“When we submitted the initial Budget back in March, that was before we got to take a good look at Marcus Paca’s Platform.  Great suggestions for Budget cuts Marcus.  We are going to implement them!”

And giving money to the White Elephant Tennis Tournament at Yale is a joke.

posted by: K. Joyner on May 18, 2017  1:32pm

Joe Clerkin AKA Darrell Jones- comptroller are now offering the public spending reductions of $13.2 M in place of their original budget projecting spending increases of $31.5M. The city’s original estimate of revenue from the state was $257,394,570, the state projected revenue to New Haven of $245,497,088, a $12M difference.
On May 15th the Gov. revised his budget proposing aid to New Haven projected to be $238,989,597M. The city utilizing its voodoo math is saying that the reduction in state aid is only 13M. “City Budget Director Joe Clerkin detailed the $13 million in trimmed proposed spending to the alders” In reality if the city trims spending by $13M off the Gov"s budget, the new aid figure is: About $226M. Clerkin fails to project or estimate to the alders what a new state aid total amount will be; and they, DO NOT ASK.
Clerkin dazzles the alders by telling them “New Haven’s revised budget for 2017-18 assumes a savings of $9.2 million through restructuring city debts with lower interest rates. A reduction of $9.2M from $257,394,570 equals $248M, which remains 10M short of the Gov’s revised proposal currently at: $238,989,597M. In addition, taking 5M…
“$5 million on the city’s debt service with any new debt it incurs; and using the debt payments to cover current spending increase is illegal under the charter, Alphonse Paolillo knows better. Yet he and the finance committee have approved this illegal transfer each of the last three years routinely.
While clerkin dazzles, these alder mentioned in the article would rather talk around the edge about issues such as the tennis center getting $100.000K increase but fail to consider Market New Haven getting a $325K increase on the same page..2-36. “alders deliberated over a handful of amendments that didn’t ultimately impact the Harp administration’s new spending plan.” SO just who do these alders represent, NOT THE TAXPAYERS. The state is providing the same $4.2M for reduction in MV tax, to not do so is illegal.

posted by: robn on May 18, 2017  2:50pm

Headed in the right direction but its way short of whats needed. In ER neighborhood some people have experienced three 50-100% tax increases in a row. Now some in other neighborhoods closer to downtown are experiencing the same. This has got to stop. We surely have an income problem (LILOT…little in lieue of taxes) but City Hall needs to recognize that we also have a spending problem. We’ve just gone through 30 years of incredible technological innovation and we’re still employing the same amount of people. The city should have a 5 year goal of dramatic attrition and make up for it with technologocal productivity.

posted by: K. Joyner on May 18, 2017  3:21pm

Continued..


“The state is providing $4.2M to reduce MV tax, from 37 to 32mills for 18/19. The city is now proposing a change to keep the MV tax at 37mills, despite the fact that it is reimbursed by the state . To not keep the MV mill rate at 37 mills as proposed, is illegal, because as of today the appropriation is in a state statutory grant that can only be changed by the state legislators.

The Alders policy amendments “Alders agreed to the following policy amendments offered by Paolillo before voting the budget out of committee.

The Alders 17/18 policy amendments closely mirrors those of the current 16/17, budget which do not get reviewed for compliance. (see policy amendments above.)

Policy amendments 16/17 budget:(PARTIAL LIST)

FY 16-17 POLICY AMENDMENTS
1.  Chief of Police shall notify
the Board of Alders of the purc
hase of all rolling stock and the intended use for each
purchase.
2.  No vehicles shall be purchase
d for the Chief or Assistant Chiefs of the Department o
f Police Services.
3.  Funding for the position of Corporation Counsel after August
1, 2016 shall only be cont
inued after certified
proof of the Corporation Counsel’s New Haven residency and New
Haven elector status is provided to the
Board of Alders.
4.  Department heads shall only be
able to enter into MOUs that have economic impact with approval of the
Board of Alders.
5.  Hooker and Holcombe shall pr
ovide an updated actuarial repor
t since pension payment is not made as a one-
time payment.
6.  The Controller shall provide
a notice to the Board of Alder
as when the pension being paid, a schedule for
meeting the ARC and look at all options and make a recommendati
on on how to pay it down as quickly as
possible.
7.  Before any funds in police ov
ertime and fire overtime above
1 million dollars may be released, the
Departments will need to ge
t Board of Alders approval.
8.  Police and Fire Departments and Commissions must follow Free
dom of Information.

posted by: CTLifer on May 18, 2017  10:26pm

Anderson Scooper-If all BOE/City Employees had to be New Haven residents, or pay some type of fee, the New Haven school system would be run by very few qualified individuals.  Classrooms would have to be combined giving teachers 40 plus students at a time, and City offices and services would come to a grinding halt.  This is based upon researching non-Yale individuals living in the City who would qualify for all City positions. You cannot force talent to live where they work.  Benefits, specifically healthcare and retirement, are what drives people to work for any City, as the salaries are not competitive with surrounding towns, such as Madison, Clinton, Milford, etc..  And each Union in the City has ‘given back’ and paid more for their benefits during every single contract renegotiation. This City spends far to much money on two week ‘employment opportunities’ such as A&I Festival annually, cultural events, as well as the tennis bologna.  Wow-two weeks of employment will make all of the difference for local folks!!

posted by: Noteworthy on May 18, 2017  10:32pm

The budget slight of hand is not a real reduction in spending. It’s a reduction in the increase of spending. it still gives the schools millions of dollars more than this year; it still hires the 25 people, it still wastes money and uses financing gimmicks on bonds. Those same gimmicks lowered our credit rating and also lowered the credit rating at the state level too. This budget needs to be cut a lot more - and all the increases by department eliminated - and that just for starters.

posted by: Realmom21 on May 19, 2017  8:01am

How ironic that as they cut funding for school transportation ..yesterday wed may 18 when the temps out side soared past 85 degree there were children with a pregnant bus driver stuck sitting in a broke down bus for an hour and a half. Oh there wasnt another bus available for the first hour and then when they finaally found one it was way across town at traffic hour. The kids nor driver were allowed to exit the vehicle and sit on a neighbors lawn who came out and offered because the interior of the bus was sweltering but still considered safer than sitting on a lawn with a large shading tree. At least the neighbor brought ice and water out to the children.. but we have an acting super. making 750 per day in addition tohis pensioin..why wasnt that frozen like every other individual who comes back to work for the city? Oh yea I forgot becaseuhe is best buds with the honorable….keep slicing and dicing where it hurts the most .. why are we cutting all of the bonuses to non union staffing. Why are there still pay raises going forward for non contracted positions. why are condoning purchasing flower pots in Wooster square when we have serious debts looming…oh yeah because its so democratic to let people decide how to spend money?/

posted by: HewNaven on May 19, 2017  11:00am

</blockquote>What percentage of the city budget goes to city employees’ salaries & benefits?

What percentage of those employees live in the suburbs?

At what point does the City start asking for give-backs? I mean City employees, as a whole, have it pretty good. Your average homeowner? Staggering from some of the highest property tax rates in all of America!</blockquote>

We all know it depends on the department. NHPD: about nearly 80% living out-of-town. That’s an occupying force, patrolling the streets. Mercenaries.

And, don’t leave out Yale. Most of those highly-paid professors and managers live in the burbs. Even, the pink-collar Local 34 is about 2/3 out-of-towners.

Lastly, what does an “average homeowner” look like? Many multifamily homes in NHV are owned by LLCs and financial institutions. Maybe that’s average?

Bottom line is this is a regional/state issue. BoA will never solve it.

posted by: robn on May 19, 2017  11:18am

RM21,

Bigups to the neighbor with the icewater. I love hearing stories like that about New Haveners.

posted by: southwest on May 21, 2017  5:41am

How incompetent some Alders are…it’s so easy for them to spend taxpayers money like it’s their own lotto winnings..half of these incompetents need to be voted out of office..all political offices need a time limit when it come to holding positions..They should only be allowed eight year term limits like the president….when they stay in a position to long it has been proven they become power hungry and do not have their constituents best interests at heart..they become political bullies by saying it’s my way or the highway…why is Jason Bartlett getting all these raises without the board knowing about it…the city is in a financial bind and they keep giving raises and adding more suckups to the city payroll…why just the fire department and police have to come before the board to justify their monies but yet other departments like BOA,Mayors Staff and others departments don’t ...the city is going broke by the Alders picking and choosing who they allocate who get raises and funds..the scarey part their is no shame in their games nor accountability to their constituents and taxpayers..they just like the media covers while they grandstanding and them saying I showed them who’s boss…well I want the real boss to step up to the plate and be responsible and not allowing the incompetents to continue to spend monies that the city don’t have…after election I can see the taxes going up along with everything else.. because no savay politicians would dare do that before and election…I just want responsible politicians who have the best instress of the taxpayers in the city of New Haven to consider us first because without us they want be no them,because we bankroll all of these unseasonably and unessary project/ salaries…

posted by: agor on May 22, 2017  1:01pm

maybe mayor harp will give out more raises to top salary employes don’t worry about tax payrs