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$503M Budget Offers 3 Paths To Higher Taxes

by Thomas MacMillan | Mar 1, 2013 9:08 am

(43) Comments | Commenting has been closed | E-mail the Author

Posted to: City Hall, City Budget

The mayor is proposing an increase in property taxes in the next fiscal year. Just how much taxes will rise is the subject of his new choose-your-own-adventure budget.

Except we don’t get to choose. The state does.

That picture emerged Thursday night in City Hall as Mayor John DeStefano gave aldermen a sneak peak at his proposed $503 million budget for the coming fiscal year, which he will officially unveil on Friday. The fiscal year starts July 1.

This year DeStefano (pictured above at left) actually introduced three budgets: Three options to choose from, depending on what happens with the state budget.

Gov. Dannel Malloy has presented a variety of state budget changes that—if they all go through—could mean a revenue loss of $27.7 million for the city, DeStefano said.

But the state budget is still very much in flux as legislators vow to change Malloy’s plan. With so much uncertainty about what may happen, DeStefano said, he decided to present three different budget options. Each would require an increase in the mill rate—the property tax rate, which now stands at 38.88 mills.

The mill rate would go up by 2.09 mills under Option 1, 4.43 mills under Option 2, and 7.35 mills under Option 3.

For a homeowner with a property value of $150,000, that translates to a tax increase of either $314, $665, or $1,103. 

On Friday, the mayor will officially submit his budget to the Board of Aldermen, which will spend several months scrutinizing it, make any changes it sees fit, and then vote on it this spring.

Board President Jorge Perez Thursday night called any tax increase unacceptable. He said he looks forward to seeing the full budget and finding cost savings.

East Rock Alderman Justin Elicker, who is a candidate for mayor, said it’s to early to draw any conclusion about the budget without seeing the full document. He said it’s “difficult to say at this point” whether a tax increase can be avoided.

Thomas MacMillan Photo On Thursday night, Elicker and Perez were two of about a dozen aldermen who gathered in a second floor meeting room in City Hall for the mayor’s PowerPoint presentation.

The general fund budget would rise under DeStefano’s plan from $486.4 million in the current year to $503 million in the coming year, an increase of 3.45 percent. The capital budget, however, would be about half the size it is now, down from $124 million to $63 million.

DeStefano said his budget options are designed around three priorities: schools, public safety, and economic growth.

In schools spending, the city would contribute $3 million more to the Board of Ed than it did last year, meeting the Board of Ed’s requested increase in its proposed budget.

The city would spend almost $2 million more on public safety. That includes salary increases as a result of the recently settled police contract, 40 new cops, and 40 new firefighters.

Mayor DeStefano ticked off a number of ways the city is saving money or taking in new revenues. Grand list growth accounts for $2.6 million more in property tax revenue, without any mill rate increase. The police contract represents a savings of $2.7 million in pension costs. Medical benefits costs are flat, due to contract settlements.

The budget includes no one-time revenue sources—like the sale of buildings—which have been criticized in the past. Nor does it include any expected savings from contract settlements, although those may occur, the mayor said. He called it “a conservative approach to budgeting this year.”

Next, the bad news from the state. The mayor said the state budget will affect New Haven in three ways: through the elimination of grants, through the shifting of money from the general fund budget to the capital budget, and through the proposed elimination of the car tax. All told, it could amount to $27.7 million less from the state, DeStefano said. More than half of that would be a result of the car tax elimination, he said. (Legislators have vowed to keep the car tax.)

DeStefano decried these proposed state budget changes one by one, referring to them as a “shell game” that could ultimately make cities in Connecticut more dependent on property taxes than ever.

With all the uncertainty in the state budget, DeStefano said he found himself wondering, “What do I send the Board of Aldermen?”

His answer: Three budget options.

The spending plans for each are essentially the same. They call for increases in spending on public safety, general government, debt service, and pensions. The differences are in how much the city would charge in property taxes, to make up for varying amounts of funding from the state.

Option 1 assumes no changes in state funding from the current fiscal year. That option would still require a mill rate increase of 2.07 mills.

Option 2 assumes all the proposed state budget changes go through, except for the car tax elimination. Under Option 2, which DeStefano called the “not too hot, not too cold option,” the mill rate would go up by 4.43 mills.

Option 3, the worst case scenario, assumes that all the proposed state budget changes go through, including the car tax elimination. Property taxes would go up by 7.35 mills.

The mayor is officially submitting Option 2 to the Board of Aldermen, but all three options will be in the budget document. “I picked the middle course,” DeStefano said.

DeStefano predicted the budget battle will play out on two fields: Across the hall in the Aldermanic Chamber, and 40 miles north in Hartford.

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posted by: anonymous on March 1, 2013  9:21am

How does the Mayor expect people to shoulder a $1,000 tax increase when they’ve just been hit with the expiration of the Obama payroll tax cut?

Easy to make this proposal when you are the Mayor, or Reggie Mayo, about to Retire on a $170,000 per year for life retirement pension.

posted by: jim1 on March 1, 2013  10:02am

Just one more reason to move to New Haven….. Pay for what Yale wants.  We just had a tax increase last year my taxes went up $2,000.00 for the year and I live in a 750 sq. foot condo.  Might just move to 360 state st. I could save money…....

posted by: streever on March 1, 2013  10:02am

“Board President Jorge Perez Thursday night called any tax increase unacceptable. He said he looks forward to seeing the full budget and finding cost savings.”

Is Perez going to be the “new austerity” candidate?

I hope that he doesn’t pull a Cantor and decide—before having all the facts—that tax increases are unacceptable.

Tax increases happen, even in tough economies, and if government services are good then people can weather them.

The opposite—austerity and program cutting—has a decidely worse impact long-term on the economic health of everyone.

Hopefully our next Mayor will be brave enough to not kick the can as DeStefano has done, so we can have tax increases at regular, healthy intervals, instead of giant tax increases as irregular and unplanned surprises.

posted by: robn on March 1, 2013  10:44am

A random plot of empty land on Fort Hale Road is assessed at $5K/acre, meaning @ $7/acre market value. Tweed is about 400 acres. That’s conservatively $3M of blank land that could potentially hold 2000 homes, or $300M of taxable property (given the values on Fort Hale Road which is conservative). At the current mill rate that’s about $12M of additional taxes annually. Does Tweed add $12M of economic activity to the region in order to justify its existence?

posted by: SaveOurCity on March 1, 2013  11:16am

how anyone can propose these kind of increases with a straight face boggles the mind.  Quoting Streever “If Gov’t services are good, then people can weather them”  Well, gov’t services are nothing near good.  One of my neighbors finally had the city clear the snow to the level where it is safe for children and the elderly 2 days ago…...18 DAYS after the storm.  I travel across the state on a regular basis and Bridgeport and New Haven had by far the worst snow removal processes in the state…not even close.

posted by: darnell on March 1, 2013  11:26am

Has everyone’s household incomes grown? Mine hasn’t, in fact, it has decreased, largely because this economy is so bad that I have not been able to find employment for a year now, and my wife’s check has decreased significantly since the payroll tax deduction.

Enough is enough. I spent two years fighting this crap on the BOA, now the faces have changed, but the game stay the same.

I’m running for Mayor!!!! Put a stop to the looting of the middle class!!!

posted by: robn on March 1, 2013  11:32am

STREEVER,

Austerity practiced at a federal level and local level aren’t analogous The federal government has the unique privilege to be able to print currency and control interest rates allowing Keynesian stimulus spending. Cities can’t do that. Nor can states and in fact, a state debt default debacle occurred in 1842 that led to states adopting balanced budgeting.

posted by: Fair and Honest on March 1, 2013  11:33am

Wow. With the debt service we’ll be paying over the next decades (to pay for the new construction), I’d have to say it looks like DeStefano has left the city in a disastrous financial situation.

When he was running for re-election, DeStefano gave us years of evasion and “magic” fixes to make the budget look good.  Now that he’s not running, the truth comes out. 

Thank god at least we saved the parking meter revenue that he wanted to sell.

DeStefano is getting out and leaving the next mayor Herculean task—cleaning out all the manure . 

With such a huge mess to fix, we’d better get a new mayor who is scrupulously honest, committed to transparency, with great stamina to grapple with budget details and iron-willed resolution,  and who also cares about the future of the city and its people.

posted by: streever on March 1, 2013  11:36am

SaveOurCity:
Entire blocks of sidewalk in Hamden were unpassable as of last week.

While you are correct that government services here are pitiful, be careful with the assumptions you make about the snow.

A. New Haven was one of the worst hit municipalities in the state, and with our on-street parking, also had some of the most challenges in snow removal.
B. Hamden was hit slightly worse than us and absolutely was not cleared out better or quicker.

There is a certain bias in the minds of people about New Haven—that it is garbage, that nothing is ever done right here, and that it is because we spend too much money.

This is a logically inconsistent bias, and facts do not bear it out in every case.

posted by: DrJay on March 1, 2013  12:34pm

I object to the pictures accompanying the lead. EVIL POWER MASTER and the mayor? WTF?

The financial situation of our city is dire because our federal government has chosen to under tax the rich and to stop funding programs that poor cities need. We are faced with the burden of paying locally for what should be a federal and state responsibility - caring for the poor and housing needed non-profit institutions.

[Editor: The “evil power master” was meant as a joke about choose-your-own-adventure books and the forces New Haven feels it is up against amid the state budget process in Hartford.]

posted by: Noteworthy on March 1, 2013  12:55pm

This is an old story with a new date and with numbers that are just more shocking than usual. This budget makes a mockery of taxpayers and their families and their growing inability to balance the demands of government and taking care of their own families.

Congress allowed the payroll tax to rise; Malloy and the state legislature hiked the income taxes of the middle class and they raised and wildly increased what can be sales taxed. Meanwhile food prices are up almost 10%; health insurance up double digits and co-pays are higher. And Obamacare isn’t even fully implemented.

Now comes DeStefano 2013. Real property taxes will increase in Westville by 11.4%; in Wooster Square area by 19%; and East Rock by that much or more. It will rise somewhat less in other neighborhoods. This of course, is on top of higher valuations last year that dramatically increased the tax take by 20 to 50% in some neighborhoods.

On top of that, DeStefano’s budget in the current year that ends in June is out of balance and running a deficit; the free cash flow is zip and the rainy day fund is on life support.

DeStefano can blame the state all he wants, it falls on deaf ears. He’s gotten away with that tactic for 20 years. He has spent, borrowed and built us into a financial corner from which there are no easy answers like “raising property taxes.” People are maxed out. 88% of the people in New Haven have gross household incomes below $100K. 62% make less than $50K. These increases on top of the increases last year, will push rents and mortgages higher.

It’s time to do what DeStefano and the BOA have repeatedly, wantonly refused to do up to now: Cut spending; hiring freeze; end marginal programs like street outreach workers, LCI apartment licensing/inspections (loses more than $300K a year), ID program; close the firehouse that the FRAC consultant suggested; and consolidate schools.

posted by: Yaakov on March 1, 2013  1:13pm

This is despicable. Good riddance to DeStefano. How can he seriously offer this up as an option?

Where is the board of alderman on this???

posted by: Threefifths on March 1, 2013  1:29pm

Can not Blame the unions for this.Keep voting them in.

posted by: Razzie on March 1, 2013  2:03pm

Let’s be clear here ... whatever gets passed will not be John DeStefano’s budget. It will be Jorge Perez’s and his Union allies. John is leaving cause he has no effective control over City developments. The Union wanted control ... now it has control. Will they use it for Good or Evil??? Stay tuned!

posted by: robn on March 1, 2013  2:10pm

3/5

REALLY? Who bargained for years with the mayor for compensation and pension packages that can’t be met under any normal circumstances? We’re edging closer and closer to providence/default and union members should take notice.

posted by: Wooster Squared on March 1, 2013  2:19pm

Where are the rest of the Alders on this? Besides Elicker and Perez, none of them have weighed in on what looks to be the single biggest issue the City is facing. This is strange because normally they have a lot to say about almost everything. Where are they when it counts?

Also, was Gary Holder Winfield contacted for a comment? Given that he’s running for mayor, I and a lot of others in New Haven would like to hear his thoughts on this.

posted by: Fair and Honest on March 1, 2013  2:23pm

>I object to the pictures accompanying the lead. EVIL POWER MASTER and the mayor? WTF?<

Who ever said that the Evil Power Master is meant to look like John DeStefano?!?!?  Our mayor does NOT wear a black cap and stand-up vampire collar.  He does not have a diabolical little beard.

Yea, sure, there’s a certain resemblance in the eyes.

... And the ears.

And maybe the expression of the mouth.

And the hand gesture and pointy shoes are evocative ....  But at least his eyes do not glow red .... at least most of the time.

Dr Jay doth protest too much.

posted by: ISR on March 1, 2013  2:31pm

Scrap the regressive property tax and fund government with a progressive income tax.

posted by: streever on March 1, 2013  4:27pm

Robn:
What should we cut?

Has anyone articulated a way from here to there in pure cuts? I haven’t seen it if so, but I’d love to see a stab at it. I’m just skeptical that it is possible, and worry that if we try it we might have to cut crucial services.

I imagine the solution in the end will be a balanced approach of reduction in some costs and an increase in taxes.

I think in the long-term the city has to actually create different taxes and enact a regionalization strategy. I’m hopeful that Malloy will do that with someone who didn’t run a particularly nasty campaign against him.

posted by: cedarhillresident! on March 1, 2013  5:14pm

Same story different year…except that the fine folks of New Haven will be getting hit not only by the feds hard, not only by the state hard, but by the city. It is not just an increase in city taxes. This is crazy…I have cut all that can be cut. I want the city to do some of the same. and as always they will cut the wrong people!! The worker, cops ect. CUT THE NON UNION UPPER CRUST! Do not hire anyone else period!!! Make do with what you have. Start having city dept do some of the contracted work! really if they get to keep there jobs they will be happy to do it.

I know taxes have to go up sometimes…but I really think we have alot of fluff that can be cut.

Threefifths - in due time I may agree with you…last year the unite folks voted the budget though with few challenges or amendments if they do it this time…I sure as hell know who I will blame…just say’n

And please Jorge says that shit every year!  And plays the same game every year. This budget will go though as is or close to it. (I am sure we will see some fine acting this BOF year)

posted by: cedarhillresident! on March 1, 2013  5:16pm

ps and you know what really makes me sad it that we have become so dependent on the state and feds?? If it gets cut then we cut what it pays for??

posted by: robn on March 1, 2013  6:15pm

STREEVER,

New Haven has 1 employees per 37 citizens. New York City somehow scrapes by with 1 employee per 66 citizens. Why do you think that is? If the delta were 5% or 10% I wouldn’t think as much of it but do you think we need twice as many public servants per capita than New York?

posted by: streever on March 2, 2013  4:07pm

Where are those employees Robn?

Generally, I think a lot of our city departments are understaffed.

NHPD seems close to right.

Building department and parking are absolutely under-staffed.

Libraries are tight.
Classroom sizes are too large at most schools.

I agree in principle, but until I see someone propose a comprehensive budget, I don’t think we can get where we need to with cuts alone.

I guess I just think, we’ve heard a banker (Perez) and some smart financially saavy citizens moaning about this for over a decade, and we’ve still yet to see a comprhensive budget proposal from anyone showing us getting where we need to be with cuts alone.

City services are already dismal.

What is left? Where can we cut?

posted by: Threefifths on March 2, 2013  9:08pm

posted by: robn on March 1, 2013 1:10pm

3/5

REALLY? Who bargained for years with the mayor for compensation and pension packages that can’t be met under any normal circumstances? We’re edging closer and closer to providence/default and union members should take notice.

How about the sweet private commercial construction contracts that have been give out for the building of schools. How many of those sweet private commercial construction contracts have put the city in the red.

posted by: darnell on March 3, 2013  9:10am

Streever,

I think you know I have much love and respect for you, but if you want to be helpful to your man Elicker, perhaps you need to stop posting here. You are starting to sound like the old guard, making excuses for not making the tough choices. Of course there is room for cuts, if I can do it in my household, the city can do it. This notion that comprehensive budgets with cuts do not exist is hogwash. I put in a lot of time and energy to submit TWO of those while I was in office, both of which were ignored. Why? Because folks were not willing to let go of their SPECIAL INTERESTS, whether it was the Tweed Airport or some dancing cow in Cultural Affairs.

If your candidate has the same attitude that you have about trimming the budget, especially after the tax hike those folks took in East Rock last year, then he can kiss his campaign goodbye.

If the Mayor and the BOA think they can submit a budget with a crazy tax hike, and do some fake cuts to try to convince folks that they are sincere about taxes, that game is old and will not go unchallenged this year.

posted by: apell81 on March 3, 2013  10:38am

I think Robn’n point makes sense.  As a former teacher I’ve seen 1st hand some of the incredible waste our city has soaking up money.  The list of people working @ 54 Meadow st making >$100,000/year is quite staggering. There is A LOT of room to cut down there that wouldn’t end up hurting our children What better time to clean house than with Mayo on his way out?

posted by: Threefifths on March 3, 2013  11:10am

@Robin


Do you blame the unions for the $85 billion sequester.

posted by: cedarhillresident! on March 3, 2013  4:11pm

3/5ths
I blame all of us every last one of us. We the people…fought civil war when we disagreed with government, had the race riots when we disagreed with segregation, armys of women marching in the streets till they got the right to vote. Sit in’s with the Vietnam war…the list goes on…occupy tried to spark that in the people but got shut down by media and the government. We are complacent and even trusting that our government is doing good by its people. We believe not they are telling us the truth but that they are protecting us and can not tell us everything.  I do not even blame the unions (although I do disagree with the fact that I do not think the unions of today are anything like they were when they began, unions are at best no better than the politicians)
I BLAME US ALL for not being the America we could be by getting off our asses and marching in the streets and telling them to stop. They money that is spent by our government can give all people jobs, feed the worlds poor and give us all a happy life. I truly believe this. the rich and the uper 10% of our country will NEVER let that happen until we once again rise up as a people united. OK I am rambling now.

The question that always gets over looked by our people is not the head count at city hall but the contractors, consultants the heads and staff of “projects” (ya know the LLC’s of the city!!

posted by: Threefifths on March 3, 2013  5:29pm

@cedarhillresident

I agree with you.I blame those who keep voting in the same people.

posted by: JohnTulin on March 4, 2013  9:40am

‘Noteworthy’ for mayor!

If we have new blood downtown, in both City Hall and the BOE, this city is in for a shock - as will the new team running the city.  The amount of waste is staggering and disgusting!  And everyone looks the other way or plays along.  They better enter office with a big, sharp cleaver - a lot of chopping will commence!  We need an outsider, not someone looking to reform yet keep friends, things need to get ugly before they get better.

posted by: TheWizard on March 4, 2013  10:24am

JohnTulin:  Well Said.  The waste in this city is mind boggling.  Just this morning, I drove past a group of city truck idling while the occupants stand outside drinking coffee.  In the past, I’ve asked about this and been told that the shift starts at 7am but rules say that the work can’t start till 8am….so we are paying salaries and benefits for an hour each morning while the only output is consumption of petrol and more smog in our city’s air.  For those on this site that can’t imagine any waste in New Haven, this might be a good place to start.

Darnell:  I agree with your concerns but I would hope that your time on the BOA would have provided you the insight that Justin is working hard to slow the crazy spending in New Haven.  He has constantly been one of the few alders to challenge the out of control school construction projects.  Aligning Justin with Streever’s radical state-ist leanings isn’t fair.

posted by: robn on March 4, 2013  12:27pm

STREEVER,

I find it very frustrating that noone has seen fit to even do the math that I did about citizen/employee ratios. Now it could be that NYC has some commodity of scale and it would be fairer to compare NH to a similarly sized city if the data were available. That noone on the BOA has yet done this boggles my mind.


I’m not sure where we should cut but Kerekes noted that we have by far the highest US ratio of parkland/citysize. Let some areas that are tended temporarily return to wilderness. If a nearby community is very fond of a space they can adopt it as FERP has done.

posted by: darnell on March 4, 2013  9:26pm

@The Wizard:
I like Justin, I served with him and believe that he is sincere. Unfortunately, he has yet to prove to me or anyone else that he is sincere about getting the budget under control. In this article he stated that it’s “difficult to say at this point” whether a tax increase can be avoided. Come on, he has gone through 3 or 4 DeStefano budgets already, and he acts as though he doesn’t know the game or where the fat is in the budget. He should know that his own constituents in East Rock, as well as most of the other taxpayers in New Haven CANNOT afford another tax hike. Plain and Simple. How many of DeStefano budgets has Justin voted against?

He is not alone, none of the current candidates do. The same goes for Holder-Winfield and any other candidate. HW just voted for a state budget that raised taxes and added fees on almost everything imaginable, as well eliminated tax breaks, such as the tax free week, that many low income people depend on. Jesus, hey even tax haircuts. I’m waiting for the day they begin to tax the amount of air we breath. These taxes destroy poor families, since they are ALWAYS passed down to those who can least afford to pay them.

Who do you think will pay for an increase in local property taxes? The homeowners who CANNOT get out of New Haven and the renters who can barely afford to live here.

Here is my yardstick for measuring a candidate, they must commit to a no tax increase pledge. Now go back for the last 4 or 5 years, and see what local politician has done met that standard. Care to guess who?

posted by: anonymous on March 5, 2013  12:53pm

Darnell, you have a point.  However, lowering taxes is not the only way to increase household budgets.  It can also be done by providing more affordable transportation and housing.

TheWizard - good observation. I regularly see DPW trucks idling in front of houses where young children live for 20 minutes at a time as their staff get coffee and cigarettes. But I am hesitant to call them in because the guys (seems like they are all men) do a really tough job, and they’ve probably rushed to get the trash and recycling bins on their route taken care of so that they can take a slightly longer break. The administration needs to enact some policies to ensure that the trucks aren’t idling, though.

posted by: robn on March 5, 2013  1:13pm

ANONYMOUS and THEWIZARD,

We don’t need an ideling policy. Its already against the law in CT for non-emergency vehicles to idle for more than
3 minutes.

http://www.ct.gov/deep/cwp/view.asp?a=2684&q=322086&deepNav_GID=1619 #law

When the Yale shuttles or taxis do it in front of my house I simply walk out, tell them about the law and politely ask them to stop. They turn their engines off or move on.

posted by: cedarhillresident! on March 5, 2013  4:36pm

darnell

you know I am a thorn in the budgets ass. And I am supporting Justin. Do I think he will go in and slice and dice. No, which I would love to happen. But I do think he will go though every thing, EVERYTHING and cut, move, or consolidate to save.  He does now at one point his phone was ringing off the hook 24/7 he is FULLY aware of what the residents of this city are going though. And I stand with him 100% Because look at who voted for this budget darnell, and look at who made any proposals!!

Remember budgeting is not just cutting it is reviewing how things are done and by who. Do we need a 300,000 study to say we need traffic calming?? or do we need a few speed bumps in the right places for less than a few grand (done by city workers). Can we though a few bags of wild flower seed into unused park areas so that we do not have to cut those area and they will still look nice? Getting people together to simple pick up trash off the street and talking to eachother once a month??

All out of the box thinking. but not the drastic cuts….but I think they will save jobs and cut the same amount of money.
that is just the way I am seeing it.

posted by: darnell on March 5, 2013  5:48pm

@Cedar, if I had your support, I would be running myself, you are awesome. I’m not attacking Justin, I actually like him and wouldn’t be surprised if in the end I was on his team. That being said, it was your group that demanded a 10% cut in the budget when I was on the BOA. I submitted a proposed budget that cut the budget by 10%. Your guy not only voted against my proposed budget, but voted for a budget that raised taxes. So, he has an opportunity to turn that around by now proposing or voting for a budget that DOES NOT increase taxes. I’m just saying.

posted by: streever on March 6, 2013  9:57am

@Darnell
I’m posting all of this from my new town of Abingdon, VA ;-).

Robn:
I find it frustrating that Perez says—every year—no taxes, cuts, but has NEVER to my knowledge submitted a single budget that shows us getting there.

There are a lot of folks in town who say “No taxes” every year. The Mayor accedes to their demands, and then we have a giant tax raise in 5 years instead of reasonable tax raises every year or two.

I just think that the “Hell no to tax raises” camp needs to submit an actual budget that shows the way we do it. Some of these folks have been in there for TWENTY YEARS and have yet to submit a budget that works by their math, which is why I ask if Perez is the “New Austerity” candidate:
CANDIDATE, not mayor, because it is a nice campaign speech but not a form of governance.

Good governance would demand that a politician asking for no tax increase would show where the cuts come from beyond “eliminate waste!” with no concrete examples.

Darnell: If people vote against Justin because he has a nuanced and contextualized view of the budget and they instead vote for politicians who make unrealistic and ridiculous promises… well, that stinks for them, doesn’t it? I’m not Justin’s spokesman nor his budget chief nor his analyst nor…. well, nor anything :)

I know that the “HELL NO WE AIN’T GONNA PAY TAXES” message takes in many people—you found it compelling when McMahon ran for instance (forgive my gentle ribbing!)—but really people who say that HAVE TO give some concrete example of how we get there.

If we don’t, we just repeat exactly what we’ve done for 20 years.

posted by: cedarhillresident! on March 6, 2013  10:22am

hmm david I recall you being part of that group at one time…Is this really david?? Second you are well aware that not one person was a hell no to to paying taxes. It was a control the spending. Difference. Big difference!

Darnell you know I love you to…the man with steal balls!! :) The 10% budget cut was the easiest way to make cuts allowing each department to have some creativity with were to cut. I still like that idea. It does not mean fire…it could mean 4 day work weeks. Less out of house contracting. It could save jobs.

And If I remember NHCAN did a brainstorm of how to save money and came up with millions of ideas…millions of dollars of ideas…some good, some not so good. This issue with presenting a budget idea is we still do not have a full idea of what money is spent on. I have said before…the contractual service lines…(lines with an “s” meaning more than one.) add up and we have no clue what they are for or if they are needed. There are several other vage lines that again we are clueless to what they are. We have consulates and we have advisers and PR people. Programs, and study’s…blah blah

All these things, and we as a people and those who are not in the know have no access to. So to say come up with something…I think many would if we could get past the locked gates.

posted by: streever on March 6, 2013  10:55am

CHR:
Oh it is me :)
But, the difference between you, I, and Perez is that we aren’t running for office.

Sure, we can chant “No taxes” all day, that is our right. If Perez wants that vote, he has to do something other than chant along with you, he has to actually draft a budget that shows us surviving without raising taxes.

I’d be surprised if he can, because in 20 years I haven’t seen him or any other sitting politician do it.

I think if his response—as the President of the BoA—is “no way!” to taxes, he needs to offer alternatives and actually submit a balanced budget instead of just press releases.

I’m not criticizing citizens, like you or Darnell, who are well within their rights to advocate or agitate as they see fit: I am definitely criticizing politicians who have never presented answers to the problems they pose.

As a citizen, we owe it to a politician who sits down and does the math to give them a fair listen, but it is incumbent on the politician to do that math first. Perez wanted the job of #1 check & balance on the Mayor.

That he is using his position merely to disagree is, to me, a shame and a real failing. He should be proposing an actual alternative instead of a Cantor refusal.

posted by: streever on March 6, 2013  10:57am

CHR: You describe my frustration well :D You are right. Citizens do not have access to the budget to the degree they need. Perez, however, does. If he wants to be the candidate of the austerity/hell no to taxes camp, he needs to actually show some leadership and step up and get that information out to the people.

That he has not for 20 years while maintaining an illusion of it is a travesty and an abysmal political record on his part.

posted by: robn on March 6, 2013  11:03am

STREEVER,

You asked me the same question a year or two ago and this was my answer.

“I would have eliminated the 3rd school project that the BOA failed to halt. I would not be planning on spending another 30M renovating the armory for a community center (and instead use existing schools to serve that purpose). I would require each department head to bring me a plan to reduce their budget by 15%, anything goes including service and personnel. I would invite staff (collective or individual) to bring their own ideas for the same reduction. And to keep the pension fund solvent I would sit down with the municipal unions to renegotiate pensions (many which were aggressively negotiated during Mayor Destefano’s gubernatorial run.) I would sit with our CT legislative delegation and have a serious discussion about the underfunding of PILOT, exploring all avenues of recapturing that tax income. I would sit with our national congressional delegation to discuss underfunding of NE states in general. I would use 10% of the city cuts for immediate tax reductions and use the other 5% to begin aggressively repaying down bond debt so we don’t push the problem further down the road.”

Some, but not all of these things have been taken to heart at city hall. My point stands that we have what appears to be an unusually high ratio of city employees to citizens. If I’m right then thats excessive cost and its up to department heads to rethink the way they do things.

posted by: streever on March 7, 2013  5:00pm

Robn:
If Perez could put forth a budget with some of those proposals that actually gets us a year with no tax increase, I might take him seriously :D. Right now I can’t.

Do you think that, together, these would actually get us to not only no increase, but a tax cut? I guess I’m skeptical that some of these departments can find 15% to cut—while some are certainly bloated, many are not. Some of the union contracts and capital building related to schools is already a done deal, so I don’t know how you’d cut those.

Isn’t the Armory mostly going to be built with separate state funds?

15% across the board cut:
This is really what I want an answer to! From where would this come in some departments? I don’t think you can actually do this in, for instance, zoning, or parking & traffic. Those departments are incredibly understaffed as it is and aren’t able to operate properly.

PILOT:
We are at the state’s mercy on this, so I don’t think this can be counted, unless you have some serious black mail on Malloy that would guarantee you success where everyone else has failed :D As it is, if we lose 27 million in state funding or not, we still don’t get to a tax cut!

I really think that someone has to propose an actual budget showing how we get the city back into fiscal health. If Perez is going to speak for the “no tax increase” camp, I think that person is him, otherwise it is just all of our ideas in the ether.

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