Mayor Toni Harp is calling for a 11 percent tax increase and a $1 million reduction in the rainy day fund in a proposed new city budget that she described as the most difficult one she has ever had to draft.
It includes 11 new positions and assumes the city will receive millions of dollars in new contributions from big not-for-profits like Yale and labor union concessions.
The mayor unveiled her proposed budget Friday. It would cover the fiscal year starting July 1.
Harp said she hopes to counterbalance an anticipated decrease in state aid and building permit fees next fiscal year with concessions from municipal employees, intradepartmental efficiencies, and hoped-for increases in voluntary contributions from partners like Yale University and Yale-New Haven Hospital.
The proposed general fund budget of $547 million represents an increase of $8.1 million, or 1.52 percent, over last year’s final approved budget. The proposed capital fund budget is $79 million, an 18 percent increase over last year’s actual capital budget.
The mayor’s budget proposes that the city raise the grand list mill rate from 38.68 to 42.98, an increase of 4.30 mills, or 11 percent. The mill rate represents one dollar in taxes that city property owners must pay for every thousand dollars’ worth of assessed property value.
The budget includes a $5 million increase for the Board of Ed, which seeks a $10 million increase in order, it says, to cover existing expenses without cutting or adding services.
The budget would reverse a two-year trend of adding to the city’s depleted rainy day fund. The administration added $1.2 million to the reserve fund two years ago, then another $1 million this past year. The proposed budget calls for pulling out $1 million.
In the budget document’s opening letter addressed to the Board of Alders, Mayor Harp wrote that “this proposed budget is the most difficult one I have had to submit to the Alders and to the people of the City” in her four years in office.
An electronic version of the budget can be found here.
The budget now goes before the Board of Alders for review and revision.
Harp, City Controller Daryl Jones and Acting Budget Director Michael Gormany detailed the budget proposal Friday afternoon during a sparsely attended press conference on the second floor of City Hall. The mayor’s office finalized this first draft of the budget Thursday and presented some of its key details to the leadership team on the Board of Alders Thursday night.
Throughout the press conference, Harp, Jones, and Gormany called this proposed budget the first entry in an ongoing conversation with the public and the Board of Alders over the next few months. The Board of Alders must approve a final version of the budget by the first week of June.
“The noticeable difference in the percentage of the general fund increase and the mill rate increase is largely a function of sharply decreased anticipated revenue next year,” Mayor Harp said. “For example, in just two revenue line items, state aid and building permit fees, the city stands to come nearly $17 million short.”
“The state seems compelled to send additional resources to assist other Connecticut cities with dire financial straits of their own,” she continued, “instead of sending that to us. New Haven’s resulting revenue shortfall leaves the mill rate as the last, admittedly, and least desirable revenue option.”
In some quarters of City Hall, there is a feeling that the state is punishing New Haven for fiscal responsibility: While the city has largely balanced budgets and cut staff in recent years, Hartford veered toward bankruptcy. Now the state is giving Hartford a $40 million bailout while cutting New Haven’s aid.
“It goes without saying that Connecticut’s fiscal crisis, as exemplified by a State budget that was not adopted until October 2017 and then without the Governor’s sign-off, has had a major impact on our City’s finances. New Haven has sustained significant benefit cuts from the State and has had to make hard decisions,” Harp wrote in her budget letter.
Less Big Construction
Harp’s budget proposal anticipates a decrease of $4 million in building permits this coming fiscal year. Economic Development Administrator Matthew Nemerson said that is because the city is coming off of a record year of big Yale University construction and building replacement projects.
He said that Yale’s replacement of the old Gibbs Laboratory with a new biology building was alone around a $200 million project bringing in around $6 million in permit fees to the city. He said that those one-time projects are a boon for the city, and will help bring the total building permit revenue for the current fiscal year to around $16 million. The following year will inevitably represent a bit of a drop.
“If you look at the mix,” he said, “we may have more private development this year than last year,” Nemerson said. Those projects just are not as high-dollar value as some of the recent Yale construction projects.
“We’re still the fastest growing city in the state,” he said.
Employee Concessions, Yale Aid?
The mayor’s proposed budget anticipates $3.6 million in savings as a result of municipal employee concessions and vacancies. The budget also anticipates a $6.1 million increase in aid from other “State, Voluntary Payments, or other City partners” such as Yale University and Yale New-Haven Hospital.
“We hope to begin negotiations with employees,” Harp said in reference to the $3.6 million in hoped-for concessions and vacancies. “We certainly don’t want to lay anyone off.”
She said that the city may look into rebidding its employee medical packages if it cannot renegotiate a better deal with its current healthcare provider, Anthem.
If the city is not able to succeed in lowering health care and other employee benefit costs through negotiations with Anthem and the city employee unions, then layoffs will be on the table, Harp said
In regard to the anticipated $6.1 million increase in voluntary aid, Mayor Harp said that she is in conversation with Yale University, Yale-New Haven Hospital and the state about bringing more money to New Haven in the face of expected decreases in state Payment in Lieu of Taxes (PILOT) reimbursements.
“We believe we have the most impactful delegation [in the Connecticut legislature] and are so disappointed that we’ve been the biggest loser when it comes to financial aid and assistance from the state,” she said. “We will be going to all of those institutional givers that are important for the city. The state, Yale-New Haven Hospital, Yale will all be hearing from us.”
Public Health Expansion
Mayor Harp and Public Health Director Byron Kennedy announced that the new budget proposes that the city expand hours and operations of the public health clinic that is based out of the Health Department’s 54 Meadow St. offices in order to meet an increasing demand for low-cost health services.
The mayor’s budget proposes increasing the Health Department’s “Other Contractual Services” budget line item by $468,002 so that the city can extend the department’s current public health clinic hours from 35 hours per week to 84 hours per week, or 12 hours per day for seven days a week.
Kennedy noted that the Health Department’s current clinical services include well-child visits, testing and follow up care for people with sexually-transmitted diseases, and follow-up care for residents who have contracted tuberculosis. Kennedy said that, in the past year and a half, the city’s clinic has also been offering health services catering specifically to LGBTQ patients.
Mayor Harp said that this increase would allow for the health clinic to operate as an urgent care center for New Haven residents. She said that the city anticipates that the health clinic should be able to pay for itself, and therefore be removed from the city budget, three years after the proposed expansion of hours and services.
Kennedy said that he anticipates that the clinic will see six patients per day when it first expands operations and that it should build up to seeing around 48 patients per day after two or three years.
More Mayoral PR?
City Controller Daryl Jones and acting Budget Director Michael Gormany said that the mayor’s proposed budget includes a net increase of 11 new positions to city government, bringing the total from 1,508 to 1,519 on the city side (as opposed to on the Board of Education and schools side, which has thousands of employees funded under its budget).
One of those 11 new positions would be a public relations specialist for the mayor’s office at an annual salary of $50,000.
Gormany said that the public works department will eliminate two relatively high-level positions according to the proposed budget: chief of operations (paid $91,983 per year) and deputy director of engineering ($93,897).
He said that the savings from those two cuts will help fund the creation of four new positions: three in public works and one, the public relations specialist, in the mayor’s office.
After the press conference, mayoral spokesperson Laurence Grotheer said that this new public relations specialist would be charged with marketing the city and attracting new business and additional investment.
“[The new staffer] will be more proactive and fold in some of the digital technology that the mayor feels would be an area in which her office could grow and expand its accountability,” he said.
“We Can Do Better”
In response to the mayor’s proposed budget, several alders noted that this document is just a first draft. The Board of Alders must now review and adjust the proposals so that the city can maintain comparable services for its residents without further, significant tax increases.
“It’s a proposed budget at this time and the first step before many public hearings and potential change,” Amity/Beverly Hills Alder Richard Furlow, the board’s majority leader, said. “The mayor and her staff have worked hard to create this budget, and now the Board of Alders will work hard to make sure it is the best possible budget to keep our city moving forward for our residents. It’s good to note that even with this potential tax increase, our mill rate is still lower than many other cities our size in the state.”
“I know about the proposals,” Dixwell Alder Jeanette Morrison said. “That’s exactly what it is — it’s a proposal. Our job is to look under every block, find whatever we can as far as resources and not hurt our constituents. Through the budget process, we’ll go through everything thoroughly and see what the board can do hopefully to find some relief. Our budget relies on the state so with the state cutting then all those kinds of cuts will trickle down to the municipalities.
“Our job as a board is to go through this budget process look at everything to see what kind of relief we can find. You never want to cut services and support to the constituent. I see what she is proposing, but I hope that we can do better. “
Markeshia Ricks contributed reporting.
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posted by: THREEFIFTHS on March 2, 2018 10:25am
The bottom line in this budget is that it calls for a tax increase,” she continued. “This will be the first tax increase proposed by my administration in two years. I
Well Well Well. In the words of Laurence Fishburne .There it is.
Booooo. The Board of Ed can’t cut a single dollar and manages to increase their funding by $10 million, which gets passed on directly to the taxpayers? Come on. We can’t compromise here? Maybe we could open a few more schools? Hire a few more administrators?
This is why people are fleeing to the suburbs. It’s too bad taxpayers, unlike the Board of Ed, can’t just say “no” when asked to take a $10 million bath.
[Chris: The mayor’s proposed budget gives the schools only a $5 million increase. The Board of Ed said it found $9.3 million in its own savings, at the same time it made its $10 million request.]
posted by: NeoHavener on March 2, 2018 11:04am
There should be another poll option: “Seek new sources of revenue from wealthy, tax-exempt ‘non-profits.’” It is completely absurd for a massive amount of our downtown to be entirely tax-exempt because it is owned by a private university that pays its hedge fund managers $500 million a year to manage its $27 billion endowment. Yale has been operating according to 21st century rules while making the rest of us adhere to the rules of the 1830s.
posted by: jim1 on March 2, 2018 11:12am
She is out of her mind to think this will pass. Time to move, and the places that are being built, Union St. Comcast site, and all the rest. Look for another town to put them.
posted by: Molly W on March 2, 2018 11:17am
Good gawd, cue YALE. Please, let’s really take issue with how little they actually contribute to New Haven and push on them to contribute more.
posted by: Noteworthy on March 2, 2018 11:27am
30 million Reasons to Say No to this Budget Notes:
1. The mayor should detail how the state’s budget has hurt New Haven. This is largely untrue. New Haven has been the beneficiary of almost no cuts unlike many of the other 168 towns and cities.
2. The current city budget is operating at a deficit.
3. Mayor Harp has no idea whether the many programs in the city are actually working. What’s funny is that this year - the budget has dozens and dozens of pages dedicated to justifying the expense. It lists how many people were served etc. These are department reported results. It’s nothing more than a fig leaf to justify a continuation of all the programs.
4. There is zero reason to give the NHPS a $5 million increase. It has been an exceedingly poor steward of its current funding (deficit this year of $7 million) - and continued building more schools requiring more employees despite years of opposition from taxpayers and warnings that ever expanding school footprint was unsustainable.
5. The Rainy Day Fund is very low. Taking money out of it is, quite frankly, stupid and short sighted. Not putting more money in it - equally so.
6. This budget increases debt again by a whopping $79 million - Get this - $8.4 million to replace all the money the city confiscated from previous capital projects to pay this poorly negotiated settlement. Told you it would come back to haunt us. More interest on to of interest.
6a. The Q House clearly can’t raise its own money and breaks a promise again. So guess what? The mayor is proposing to have all of us pay for it with a $3 million debt.
7. Debt Service increases by almost a million dollars! haha - no surprise there. The chickens are coming home to roost.
Conclusion: We are a shrinking state. More income left than comes in. Yet, all one hears from Harp and people like her - is give us more. The Fiscal Stability Commission just recommended the state cut $1 billion from its budget. This budget should be cut not increased.
posted by: mikewestpark on March 2, 2018 11:35am
I’ll be sure to attach this article to the notification Ill have to send my tenants when I raise their rent. Rents will go up all over New Haven and people will no doubt blame the landlords when apartment prices rise above what low income people can reasonably pay. New Haven raises my “rent”, I’ll have to raise theirs.
posted by: dmcleggon on March 2, 2018 11:41am
The key numbers I’m reading are that the city is losing $5.7 million in state funding, but somehow is asking for an extra $30 million from taxpayers.
This isn’t adding up for me, and the Friday afternoon news dump aspect certainly doesn’t help either.
posted by: denny says on March 2, 2018 12:01pm
Does anyone know the process to recall the mayor? I’m serious
posted by: jim1 on March 2, 2018 12:07pm
Well if the busses and trains want 10% Tonie will do them one better +1&??????????????
posted by: robn on March 2, 2018 12:15pm
The soon to be voted out BOA should be focused upon something like a 20-30% cut given the extraordinarily bloated city govt (to be fair mostly sitting in do nothing administrative positions in Education).
posted by: CT DRV on March 2, 2018 12:24pm
Yale’s $27,000,000,000 endowment makes $8 million in interest a _day_.
Yale’s properties make up over half the grand list in the city.
Yale’s paltry “voluntary contribution” is a slap in the face for all the public infrastructure we provide them (even as their private bus system undercuts revenue flows from our public bus systems.)
Say it with me now:
Tax Yale. Because home-owners are sick of getting squeezed. Tax Yale. Because our school systems are underfunded and drive young families away from the greatest small city in America. Tax Yale. Because all the wealth that’s created here costs each and ever non-Yalie more money each year. Tax Yale. Because our state’s infrastructure is crumbling and the Special Transportation Fund is insolvent, leaving commuters and workers in the lurch. Tax Yale. Because working-class service sector worker’s rent goes up each time this happens.
posted by: Ulmus Civitas on March 2, 2018 12:50pm
Well said CT DRV! Homeowners unite! We can make “Tax Yale” t-shirts to wear around town. Seriously, this shouldn’t pass. Almost everyone’s property valuations were just raised quite a bit, this would be adding insult to injury. Alders use your common sense and deny this request. ...and oh yes TAX YALE!
posted by: Kevin McCarthy on March 2, 2018 12:55pm
Neohavener/CT DRV, taxing Yale would require a change to state law. Len Fasano has de facto veto power on state legislation as Senate Republican leader. Len is a reasonable guy - I worked with him for many years at the legislature. He is also Yale College, class of 1981. Even when the Democrats had complete control of state government, they were unable/unwilling to get rid of a property tax exemption that applies to Yale and a couple of other schools.
Denny says, there is no recall procedure in state law. Theoretically, the legislature could establish one. Theoretically, I could win Powerball.
posted by: Dean Moriarty on March 2, 2018 1:18pm
It’s hard to improve on the seven arguments Noteworthy makes. Very well said. Perhaps they should be nailed to the Mayor’s door. Another point is that we can demand all we want that Yale assumes a fair(er) responsibility. But what if that were successful? The Democrat tax and spend mindset would just ensure that we would again be in the same position two years from now. More monies coming in just means more monies to spend. Having spent over 60 years in this city I only wish that I were a bit younger. I would certainly hightail it out of this mess of extortion and unaccountability.
posted by: denny says on March 2, 2018 2:23pm
I’d like to see Yale provide the $5 million directly to the Wards; I’m sure the Wards can spend it more efficiently.
posted by: Atwater on March 2, 2018 2:46pm
Tax Yale? If it weren’t for Yale New Haven would be just like Bridgeport, or worse. Instead of imposing taxes, or raising taxes, perhaps the municipal government can look to cutting funding to non-essential programs, or get rid of waste in education spending.
posted by: CT DRV on March 2, 2018 3:43pm
When people say “New Haven would be Bridgeport without Yale” that’s a slap in the face of the 150k residents who live there who face many of the same struggles of a large non-profit, governmental, or otherwise untaxable property footprint. Our struggles are the same. How do you expect Bridgeport to get any “better” when it’s constantly looked down at?
That aside, we do have Yale in our city, and your claim denies the reality that it _is_ here and we have to deal with it. It also assumes the benevolence of an institution that was founded upon white supremacy and continues to operate on it. (Remember Calhoun College?) The fact is that all that wealth in the endowment alone- more than the GDP of the 89 poorest countries on this earth- is created here using our infrastructure, and Yale’s answer is either to a) build a ring road fortress around itself as it did in the 60s b) Push out black and brown owned businesses as it did with Broadway and its properties that are now displacing people in Dixwell and Newhallville or b) throw tantrums that threaten city services like garbage pickup when we speak for our interests as residents as they did 2 years ago when this bill was introduced up at the legislature.
If you keep asking for crumbs from the table, you’ll starve. We have to demand more.
Correct me if I’m wrong Mr. McCarthy, but it’s a 19th century municipal ordinance/code that established Yale’s status? I’m well aware of the c(3) nonprofit status (I’ve read their Form 990 before) and aware of the battles at the legislature, but doesn’t that power ultimately reside within the Elm City since the ordinance originated there? If you can expand on the technical aspects of your statement, I’d be happy to buy you a powerball ticket :)
posted by: the1king on March 2, 2018 4:23pm
I thought there was no tax increases. Harp should give back her pay raise. I know that it won’t change anything but it is the principle. I agree with a number of people that say Yale needs to chip in a lot more. If they are getting 8 million a day in interest as somebody had said. A week of that interest would clear up a lot. SHAME ON YALE.
posted by: Noteworthy on March 2, 2018 4:31pm
Mayor Harp lays the blame for the tax increase on the state. If she is telling the truth - then call Reps. Robyn Porter, Roland Lemar, Toni Walker, the lib from Hamden, and Sens. Martin Looney and Gary Winfield. These people all control the budget and the allocation that comes to New Haven.
However, their blame stops at the state budget which is chronically out of balance because of spending, debt and gross mismanagement. This train wreck started with Sen. Toni Harp before she decided to become mayor and do to us what she did to the state.
The blame for this tax increase, the abysmal amount of debt, debt service and just an escalation of expense in city government - rests solely with her and a compliant board of aldermen. It is not the state’s fault that New Haven’s budget is out of whack; that it is chronically running a deficit or that after all these freaking years, it still has not managed to unwed itself from being a never ending dependent on the state. The sorry excuse has been used for decades as the favorite whipping boy of the executive.
Well look - the state is broke. There is no bailout. The city needs to cut its spending as does the NHPS. That budget should be cut by $10 million; the city’s budget should be cut by another $20 million. At very least. The stats on department “accomplishments” mean nothing, in fact less than nothing. The city is broke. It has no savings. Start throwing the ballast off the sinking ship or we will all die. Do what needs to be done. And it’s not raising taxes. That’s a coward’s way out. Anybody can kick the dog.
posted by: Ulmus Civitas on March 2, 2018 4:37pm
@CT DRV, preach! well said, again. Tax Yale shirts for all homeowners!
posted by: denny says on March 2, 2018 5:03pm
Harp is the problem, but the BOA is complicit. We need an administration and BOA whose allegiance is first and foremost to the taxpayers and long-tern city residents, and not political cronies and the unions.
posted by: denny says on March 2, 2018 5:06pm
The tax hike is actually higher for those who wont be able to deduct more than $10,000 in local taxes
posted by: FacChec on March 2, 2018 5:15pm
For your thoughts and consideration:
Consider that New Haven is receiving no less statutory grant funds including ECS than it did from the state of CT in the 17/18 budget. The Board of education is asking for a 10M increase without submitting a line item budget to the BOE or the BOA.
The BOE receive a 5M increase last year and is currently running a 9.7M+ deficit. The BOE supported by a 5 or 10M budget will attempt to keep employees currently on special and grand funds on the pay-roll by moving the chosen ones over to the general fund with benefits.
Consider that with a deficit at bay the BOE hires a new supt. raising the salary from 196K (Harries) to $235K. (Carol Birks) without knowing what the executive budget will be.
Consider that the Mayor is in serious conflict of interest when she can sit on the BOE dictate the budget amount and vote, then go to the BOA twist arms or otherwise make deals with the sorry recalcitrant BOA.
Consider that the charter does not allow the BOA to make line item adjustments (cuts) they may only approve or disapprove the total amount. (Sandbagged). The BOE is aware of this provision and therefore declined to forward a line item budget to the BOA including overtime budget.
Consider that the BOE has reported to the state education board New Havens total MBR contribution to be in excess of 317M for FY 17. Ecs match, pensions, medical benefits workmen s comp Family leave, overtime and on and on & on.
.... reduce grant funded positions, master lease, reject unsubstantiated contract bids, reduce credit card spending, stop buying new vehicles close all vacant positions reduce training travelling especially at the BOE,
This is not the first tax increase in two years as the mayor lies… Vote NO we remember the increase in auto tax just half a year ago, and the increase in fines and fees food trucks, and the capital fund budget
posted by: Atwater on March 2, 2018 5:26pm
Yale University is New Haven and New Haven is Yale University. The brief period of time when New Haven was productive, on its own, is eclipsed by the 300 years of Yale’s existence in the Elm City. In fact, a lot of the industry that has existed in New Haven was a direct result of the invention of some of its alumni. So, New Haven would be like most of the post-industrial cities in New England (Bridgeport, New London, New Bedford, Fall River, Lowell, etc.) if not for Yale. It would benefit the city and its residents to stop looking to Yale every time they have budget issues. Yale did not create those issues, it should not be expected to correct them. Yale did not over spend on and under-staff the public school system and it did not create the issues of top-heavy municipal government, ineffective regulatory bodies and myopic city government.
Shortly after the founding of New Haven the settlers realized they might have made a big mistake. The city was insolvent and the ship that was sent to sell the only goods they had sank in the ocean. Bad city management is a tradition in New Haven. Bringing Yale to New Haven was one of the only smart things the city’s founders did. So, be glad for that and look to other solutions to the city’s problems.
posted by: LookOut on March 2, 2018 5:30pm
11% Really?? With a straight face?
Is anyone paying attention to the fact that Harp got her raise request (and approval) in prior to this announcement? How about the small fact that last year, an election year, had no increase? Are we to believe the people of New Haven are that stupid?
As for the Yale issue - I am no fan but they are already the #1 tax contributor and why should they be punished for investing and saving wisely while the city of New Haven has made poor decision upon poor decision and wasted billions of dollars of taxpayer money….its clear that whatever amount might be given to the city, they will certainly just waste it and be back asking for more in short order.
posted by: Gary Stewart on March 2, 2018 6:16pm
Two of you mentioned the recall process, questioning whether or not there is one . There is indeed- pay attention! I brought this up recently re: the Board of Ed. power grab. Look at the City Charter.
posted by: AverageTaxpayer on March 2, 2018 6:23pm
Why don’t we start by making sure the City taxes the new graduate student apartments Yale is building on Broadway?
Yale wants to call the apartment building a “dorm” in order to sneakily avoid paying property taxes on a building whose purpose is more investment property than educational purpose.
Then we could tax the other 300 graduate student apartments that Yale owns but avoids property taxes on. (Yale does pay taxes on a portfolio of 500 New Haven apartments. Why some, but not all?)
Taxes are already too damn high. Freeze salaries for all NHPD and NHFD workers, and end the gaming of the pension system. (80% of base, plus overtime, plus extra duty? wtf?)
Enough is enough.
posted by: Noteworthy on March 2, 2018 7:50pm
Lack of Common Sense and Decency Fuels This Budget Notes:
1. The lack of basic common sense is remarkable. If you can’t pay for your current obligations, why add more? How can you add employees and take away a family’s money? For f-king PR? Really?!
2. Why do we need duplicative employees? We have an economic development office. Why is the new PR person going to work for the mayor? To work on recruiting businesses and investment? That’s complete BS. If you actually need that person, it belongs in economic development. But we don’t need it and neither does the mayor. She already has a PR person.
3. We need a community health organization? We have Planned Parenthood, and all the other health clinics - we don’t need another one especially one that will lose money for the next three years. This will never make money.
4. Fantasy wishes that concessions from employees and huge increases from Yale/YNH is not a strategy or solid financial planning. It’s hope and that’s not a strategy.
5. Mayor Harp: I challenge you to name all the cuts from the state. We’re not the biggest loser - we’re among the biggest state teat suckers. From PILOT to tobacco to education to gambling money.
6. The biggest reason for the cuts in building permit fees from Yale is because for years, Harp and New Haven has booked both the PILOT from Yale and its millions in permit fees early - they were not booked in the year they occurred and so as Yalow: e’s program winds down, the city has to reconcile all that money.
7. There is a reason why this press conference was sparsely attended. The mayor intentionally waited until Friday afternoon in the middle of a storm in order to hide this poorly crafted document. She’s trying to avoid the scrutiny and the criticism.
8. New Haven is being punished for being financially responsible? Somebody’s on crack.
9. Note to Furlow: We don’t have the lowest mil rate - unless you refer to CT’s biggest loser cities like HTFD, BPT. That’s not saying much.
posted by: man1 on March 2, 2018 8:02pm
“38.68 to 42.98, an increase of 4.30 mills, or 11 percent”
Wow…Wow glad I live in a conservative town
posted by: Kevin McCarthy on March 2, 2018 9:09pm
CT DRV, sorry, but you are incorrect. There are three state law provisions that exempt non-commercial Yale property from tax. CGS § 12-81(7) exempts property used for educational, scientific, and certain other purposes. CGS § 12-81(8) specifically exempts property owned by Yale and several other schools, so long as it does not produce income above $6,000 per year (Connecticut courts have interpreted the $6,000 clause in a way that maintains Yale’s exemption). And Article Eighth, Section 3, of the state constitution confirms Yale’s charter, which exempts it from taxation.
Full disclosure - I’m a Ph.D., not a lawyer. But I was on the legislature’s nonpartisan staff for 30 years. Among the committees I staffed was Finance, Revenue and Bonding, which has jurisdiction over the property tax. I am not Yale-affiliated and am not arguing against taxing Yale. But doing so would be incredibly difficult politically. And the need to amend the state constitution means that the taxes would not apply this year.
posted by: Jill_the_Pill on March 2, 2018 9:23pm
Noteworthy = “The Fiscal Stability Commission just recommended the state cut $1 billion from its budget. “
Yale pays $100,000 for that “commission.”
FacChec = “New Haven is receiving no less statutory grant funds including ECS than it did from the state of CT in the 17/18 budget.”
No less in ECS, but less in other grants such as magnet. With a growing student population. And undeniably some fluff.
Kevin McCarthy = “[Len Fasano] is also Yale College, class of 1981.”
So what? I’m an alumn, and I actively encourage Yale to pay its fair share. Many of us do.
AverageTaxpayer = “Yale does pay taxes on a portfolio of 500 New Haven apartments”
Don’t you figure the renters pay those taxes ultimately?
CT DRV has it right.
posted by: THREEFIFTHS on March 2, 2018 9:44pm
Forget Yale.You will never be able to take them on. Remember Yale is Skull and Bones. The Russell Trust Association, owns the society’s real estate and oversees the organization.
posted by: robn on March 2, 2018 10:20pm
KM is 100% correct that Yale’s non tax status is impenetrable (this is not a local phenomenon but a national baked-into-the- system thing). In other words, expect that protest to take a long time and eventually land at the Supremes where it will fail. What I believe is very vulnerable is that the exemption is a creature of the state legislature and that in today’s context, is anachronistic and unconstitutional. Focus on the state either meeting 100% PILOT or a ground breaking lawsuit returning billions of lost tax dollars to urban areas economically stranded by late 20th Century white flight.
posted by: Statestreeter on March 2, 2018 11:35pm
This is how you recall the Mayor. Shouldn’t be to hard considering the anemic voter turnout in the last election. If for some reason this link doesn’t bring you to the right place just type in recall in the search box.
I did not go to Yale. I do not work at Yale or with Yale. I am not married to anyone who works at Yale. I have no connection to Yale. I pay taxes on my small house to the City of New Haven.
But the endless bashing of Yale is tiresome and bad for New Haven. Subtract Yale and we are Waterbury or New Britain. Don’t think Yale can move? Perhaps not, but it can invest elsewhere - drive down i-95 through Orange and see where it’s spent money recently.
I don’t care about the Mayor’s raise. If we want quality officials they should be paid for difficult jobs and it’s not that much in the scheme of things (adding PR staff is ridiculous, though.)
The City should worry about generating new tax revenue—concentrate on the moribund plans for the Coliseum site and developing the land from Yale down to the train station, bulldoze Church Street South. While there is a sympathetic administration push the state to pony up bond funding (not general fund dollars) to move those projects.
Clean up downtown. It has declined noticeably under this administration. Being asked for money every ten feet does not encourage the visitors who spend money downtown.
When the city has exhausted the possibilities for generating revenue then it can come back and ask for tax increases. It is not a matter of downtown versus neighborhoods (I live in a neighborhood). It is that when the city is generating revenue downtown it can better care for the schools and neighborhoods.
The political culture of this city is one of pandering to any group that carps about any proposal to build or develop anything. Let’s start with telling them to bug off. Downtown is the key to a healthier city, overall. It’s a way to provide services without more taxes.
posted by: 1644 on March 3, 2018 8:29am
“... this new public relations specialist would be charged with marketing the city and attracting new business and additional investment.”
I thought the above was Nemerson’s job? No?
posted by: Peter99 on March 3, 2018 9:20am
After all the drama has passed, the mayor will have achieved her strategy of lowering our collective expectations. She proposes an extreme increase, settles for 3 or 4%, everyone says what a great job was done in keeping spending in check and life goes on. Same as DC, distract folks so they cannot concentrate on the real problems.
posted by: NeoHavener on March 3, 2018 11:03am
Kevin McCarthy, You are quite right about the difficulty, but that is why pushing the notion here & in public is so important. As several comments here make clear, many people in this city & state suffer from a kind of Stockholm Syndrome when it comes to Yale.
The demand that Yale be taxed is not remotely anti-Yale. The fact is that the university has radically transformed over the past 4 decades into a major hedge-fund, pharmaceutical research division, and real estate bohemoth. It is entirely appropriate for the citizens & residents of this city & state to proactively devise measures that maintain accountability for these new & rapidly developing divisions of the university. In fact, to not do so is being remiss in our duties as stewards of a democratic society.
As Yale has expanded its tax-exempt footprint & massively grown its personnel, property values across the city have gone up significantly. The tax burden of that development *has to* fall somewhere, and unfortunately the residents of this city—with over 50% tax-exempt land—are being forced to carry an incredibly unequal burden.
It’s good to see people also bring up state problems, because New Haven has been absolutely raided by the extreme anti-urban, white flight policies of Connecticut. We get, what, 30% of our PILOT money? The PILOT system is BROKEN. The state is BROKE because the postwar suburban corporate campus model is dead. There have got to be new ways of raising revenue in the state that are in touch with the structural transformations of the economy over the past couple of decades.
People can complain all they want about Harp, but it’s the Yale Corporation & Fairfield County that have all the power. They want our taxes raised, but hide behind their tax-exempt status & $10 million Greenwich homes taxes 11 mills. Wake up and smell the class warfare.
posted by: wendy1 on March 3, 2018 11:16am
I hope the NHI publishes the full schedule of PUBLIC budget hearings for this spring. Citizens must tell Toni and Matthew NO.
I plan to bullhorn 55 Whitney Ave, address of much of Yale’s financial dealings and David Swensen’s office. Please join me. TAX YALE.
From this report it is difficult to see that New Haven has lost 0.6% in monies from the state grants from 2016/17 to 2018 proposed budget to municipalities….?? really Mayor, you wqanna run that by us again?.
posted by: HewNaven on March 3, 2018 1:45pm
Get rid of the engineers and hire more PR specialists. That’s a great idea, Toni!
posted by: yim-a on March 3, 2018 3:24pm
was thinking of moving back to new haven after a stint in Hamden but, well, maybe not…
posted by: Noteworthy on March 3, 2018 3:58pm
State Education Funding:
1. The NHPS financially engineered the switch over to magnet schools because the state paid more. This destroyed the neighborhood schools. When you chase the money, give up your values, you’re subject to changes.
2. So the state is paying less for magnets - big deal. We all knew this was coming. The NHPS have been warned over and again - all was ignored and more magnets were built. This fooishness has come back to bite us.
3. Wait until the state figures out it’s paying twice for the same kid - that child who is attending a charter school draws the same amount of money for the NHPS regaredless of whether that kid is actually in class or not. That kid then draws money for the charter operation.
4. There should be no tax increase at all. The city should cut $30 million - and NHPS should be forced to cut $10 million even if that means dropping a school or two. we can’t afford all these schools. The planned pilfering of the Rainy Day Fund should be reversed and we should be adding another $1 million to it.
posted by: flash_demo on March 3, 2018 7:03pm
yim-a. Even if taxes go up, New Haven is still a better place to live. I escaped from Hamden 4 years ago (and their poor services for high taxes) and feel I have returned to civilization!
posted by: 1644 on March 3, 2018 7:32pm
Regarding Yale’s tax status, the tax exemption was granted by the Colony of Connecticut in its charter. Pursuant to the US Supreme Court’s Dartmouth College opinion, the state cannot change the charter without Yale’s consent. The state can change its statutes and its constitution, but unless Yale consents to the changes, or the US Supreme Court overturns one of its oldest precedents, the changes the state makes will not be effective.
Average: As we have stated before, the “apartment-style” student housing on Broadway is similar to student housing built by UConn and Southern. I cannot see the city prevailing in an argument that such a style of housing doesn’t qualify for tax-exempt status when the state itself has deemed it appropriate and necessary not only for graduate and professional students, but for undergraduates. The Broadway housing is not an investment. If Yale held its New Haven properties as financial investments, they would be managed by Swensen, not Alexander..
Overall, Yale sucks money from throughout the world through alumni donations, investment returns, grants, and tuition, and dumps it in New Haven.
posted by: Sarah.Miller on March 3, 2018 7:45pm
The Blue Ribbon Budget Review Panel Report of June 2009 foresaw and recommended corrective action to prevent the current crisis.
Has there been any legislation to enact its recommendations?
posted by: acumen on March 3, 2018 10:41pm
I can see that many want to tax Yale. A better idea would be to transfer some of the schools under Yale management and control. The children will benefit by getting the best education based on the latest methods of teaching. The schools will benefit by getting the best management based on business management innovations. And the city will benefit by getting schools off their budget. All the wonderful ideas that are generated by the smartest people in the world will be implemented right here in New Haven! Yale’s researchers who work in social sciences may try they ideas of making education really important within families of students – one critical factor of their success. A true partnership can benefit both Yale and New Haven through grants funding. It is a better idea then the taxation of Yale or the taxation of NH citizens who are already paying more than neighboring towns. I could agree with the taxation if the results where much better than in neighboring towns but sending good money after bad money is counterproductive.
posted by: okaragozian1 on March 3, 2018 10:48pm
I’m not 100% certain that the City of New Haven is getting a proper re-imbursement to offset the loss of local property taxes from housing, state owned property, hospitals, and non-profit institutions from the State.
I don’t think we are getting 100% re-imbursement for our property tax losses to hospitals and colleges. I believe that the re-imbursement we are getting is much less.
Additionally, there seem to be a privileged expectation to grand employee benefits and wonderful pension which the private sector do not have. Why are government jobs not in-line with the slaving everyone else is subjected to in the private sector?
posted by: Brendantibbets on March 4, 2018 7:50am
Other than the bloated BOE budget one department that should be looked at for a trim is the fire department. In this budget no single department has asked for a larger request than this department. There is no way that the addition of another mechanic can be expected to draw increased revenue to offset personnel increases. Overall staffing is too large, a recently hired class should never have been allowed because there is more than enough firemen to run the department, these extra people just cost more money. There is almost 100 more people than is needed to operate the entire job including the 72 people on shift and all the ancillary staff jobs even with the addition of a completely unnecessary job of planning and information officer. This is one department that could easily trim 100 jobs which equals almost 2 million bucks. It’s not the whole solution but it’s a start.
As far as the $50,000 public relations specialist goes, save the 50k and just make real cuts that makes new haven affordable.
posted by: anonymous on March 4, 2018 10:22am
Hunger Games Notes:
1. Amazon Inc. reported $5,600,000,000 in U.S. profits last year.
2. Amazon Inc. Paid Zero ($0) in Federal Taxes in 2017
3. Amazon Inc. Just Got a $789,000,000 Windfall from the New Tax Law
4. Want to help? Buy from locally-owned stores instead of from Amazon.
posted by: TheMadcap on March 4, 2018 10:57am
To comment on a small point made in the article about the health clinic, I myself have used that clinic, specifically because of the Anchor Healthcare Initiative, which is the part of the clinic(with two fantastic doctors) that cater specifically the LGBT community, and I’ve seen 3 patients go in just while in the waiting room for a brief period, so I feel like they have to be seeing more than 6 patients a day?
posted by: robn on March 4, 2018 3:10pm
“Tax Yale” is a legal dead end because of local, state and national legal precedent stretching back centuries. So stop talking about it. The CT legislature should foot the bill. To force them, we should sue the State of Connecticut for full Payment In Lieu Of Taxes (PILOT) because: 1) Property tax exemption for large non-profit institution(s) is a creature of the state. They will pay the bill for this law if forced to. 2) The idea that large non-profit institution(s) are for the public benefit and deserve tax exemption is anachronistic. Today the benefits are, to a great extent, delivered statewide, countrywide and internationally; not delivered locally other than employment…something all local businesses deliver. 3) The Connecticut legislature eliminated county government in the mid 20th century and, combined with white flight from de-industrializing urban cores, thoroughly eviscerated the tax base urban cores. 4) Points 2 and 3 effectively violate Equal Protection. This is guaranteed by the 14th Amendment of the US Constitution, and Article 1, Section 1 and Section 20 of the Connecticut Constitution.
posted by: Mysahn15 on March 4, 2018 4:26pm
Should of voted Paca At least he will have some accountability
posted by: Jill_the_Pill on March 4, 2018 5:17pm
>>> “A better idea would be to transfer some of the schools under Yale management and control. “
I’m sorry, acumen, that is a terrible idea.
>>> “The children will benefit by getting the best education based on the latest methods of teaching.”
Yale doesn’t have a school of education.
>>> ” All the wonderful ideas that are generated by the smartest people in the world will be implemented right here in New Haven! Yale’s researchers who work in social sciences may try they ideas”
Experimenting with children’s one chance at their education is unfair to them.
>>> “making education really important within families of students”
You think it’s not?
posted by: Kevin McCarthy on March 5, 2018 7:09am
Jill, I appreciate your civic-mindedness. But Fasano genuinely believes the exemption is good public policy.
Statestreeter, thanks - I did not know about this local law.
Peter, I think Harp is acting in good faith. But she has shifted the onus of finding the cuts needed to reduce the tax hike to the Board of Alders.
posted by: 1644 on March 5, 2018 7:54am
rob: Wes Horton argued equal protection in Horton V. Meskill, and won, resulting in massive state funding for education to make up for some towns’ small tax bases, notably rural towns as well as cities. New Haven already gets massive amounts of money taken from the suburban taxpayers by the state and given to the cities. Under the present system, New Haven has a great deal of control of how the money is spent. If we had county government, the suburbs would control how it was spent.
posted by: JCFremont on March 5, 2018 8:52am
Her statement “first tax increase” does that include last years re-assessments? And yet New Haven keeps adding on “promises” and swiping the credit card. If our tax money as our politicians have renamed them as “Investments” than I would like an accounting of my investments because I think my portfolio has to many junk bonds and penny stocks. I like Denny’s idea about Yale giving money directly to the wards but I’m sure this will further segregate the wards with fighting about who “deserves” more that others. The entire state is becoming reliant on University’s with in the past decade Yale, Quinnipiac, UNH, Sacred Heart and UConn taking over properties once held by large corporations. If this keeps up maybe the legislature will change the tax code, but with that I’m sure these university endowments will be less quick to “donate” their resources for future bailouts. And how did we manage to go from increasing and getting New Haven’s fair share of PILOT funds to a decrease! Another Great job.
posted by: mikewestpark on March 5, 2018 8:59am
When taxes increase it depresses the value of the property. So not only are the homeowners paying directly for the irresponsible fiscal agenda of the city, their investment value is eroding as well. Eventually this tax increase will shrink the value of the Grand List, suffocate the economy of New Haven, and will leads to further tax increases in the future. This administration has made too many entitlement promises. They couldn’t afford those promises when they were made but did so in order to stay in power. Mayor Harp just sat in her office and decided she would lose less votes with a tax hike than if she cut the budget to the schools. Give the children in this city a valuable life lesson on what happens when you buy things you can’t afford. That lesson is more valuable than the education they are currently receiving (isn’t New Haven almost dead last in the education arena?).
posted by: 1644 on March 5, 2018 10:25am
JC: To hear Sen. Lemar tell it, in the last budget negotiations, legislators like him, who insisted on large tax increases, just weren’t listened to when the bipartisan budget was being crafted. The result was that New Haven did not have a voice in shaping the budget. So, Hartford got a huge bailout, but New Haven saw less PILOT. Hamden, Berlin, and Hartford were also helped by having legislators (Looney, A2Z, and Ritter) in leadership positions, something New Haven no longer has.
posted by: 1644 on March 5, 2018 10:35am
CTDRV; What black and brown owned businesses were pushed out on Broadway? The businesses I remember, Quality Wine, Cutlers, Blossom Shop, Broadway Pizza, Rhymes, the Doodle, Phil’s Barbershop, were all white-owned. In fact, Alexander increased the diversity by traveling to NYC to recruit a Korean grocer. He was very disdainful of the white-owned liquor stores, pizza joints, and barbershops, even as Phil’s promoted all of Yale’s athletic teams.
posted by: concerned_neighbor on March 5, 2018 10:52am
Here is an unpopular suggestion: Live within your means!
While this article has sparked a great debate - tax Yale, sue CT for PILOT funds, etc., BOE reform - there is no serious discussion of spending less (or not spending more). There is no more money to be squeezed out of the taxpayers. Two of the three major topics for more funds, Yale and PILOT, are highly unlikely to yield anything anytime soon. Pushing those is a sisyphean task.
Real BOE spending reform would seem sisyphean but Mayor Harp sits on the BOE, doesn’t she? And wouldn’t that give her a front row seat to get spending under control?
posted by: StopTHEWaste on March 5, 2018 12:45pm
Marches should be planned and organized to protest this BS! The reassessment just increased taxes without raising the millrate. Now were gonna due it again. I’m tired of living in a welfare City. How does my tax dollar benefit me, Toni! Cut your city staff and the wasteful practices. It’s pathetic to see tax money wasted over and over again.
Mayor Toni Harp was longtime co-chairwoman of State Appropriations Committee—therefore bears major responsibility for creating the State’s fiscal sinkhole. Such irresponsible management only was possible due to One Party controlling both New Haven & State govt for a half century. “The mayor’s proposed budget anticipates $3.6 million in savings as a result of municipal employee concessions…’We hope to begin negotiations with employees’…” Ha ha ha ha ha! —Oh, Wait: I’m confused. Are we talking about State or City govt?? “We believe we have the most impactful delegation [in the CT legislature] and are so disappointed that we’ve been the biggest loser”. —So I wonder how she defines “most impactful delegation”?? “the city anticipates that the health clinic should be able to pay for itself, and therefore be removed from the city budget, three years after the proposed expansion of hours and services.” Ha ha ha ha ha!
posted by: BevHills730 on March 6, 2018 11:22am
1644: It is really interesting to learn that Alexander was so disdainful of small business owners in the downtown area, even ones that supported Yale. It is also interesting to learn that his vision of diversity meant overlooking the hundreds if not thousands of small business owners who are people of color in New Haven and instead recruiting a Korean grocer. Thanks for the insights.
posted by: 1644 on March 6, 2018 1:04pm
Bec: Are Koreans not people of color. i.e. “yellow”? I know my pink is not considered a color, but I didn’t realize yellow was one either. New Haven has long had a substantial Korean community. If we are to embrace diversity, we should embrace a Korean presence.
In any case, I have certainly posted many times on Alexander’s Potemkin village at Broadway, and to a lesser extent on Chapel. Yale’s goal is top goal is to make the area safe, and its second goal is to make the area attractive to pre-frosh and prospective faculty and staff. Thus, all stores are required to stay open until 9 pm to maintain foot traffic into the evening (a requirement the Co-op refused, sealing its fate), the grocer is required to put out fresh flowers, and national and international chains familiar to brand-obesessed 17-year olds are favored over local vendors. To be fair, many forces beyond Yale acted against the prior businesses: the Doodle’s owner retired, streaming music and I-Tunes eliminated Tower Records as well as Cutlers and Rhymes, the shift to less casual clothes impacted Blue Jay Cleaners, as well as Barrie, Whites, etc., the computer spelt the end of Whitlocks’ typewriter repair, and the e-books lessened appreciation for Whitlock’s Rare Books. , etc. In spite of once putting my picture in his window, Phil’s was hurt by the fashion for longer hair. Yale does lease to the local Ashleys and quasi local Blue State, as well as other local businesses. It is hard for small businesses to stay open all the hours Yale wants.
posted by: HewNaven on March 6, 2018 1:40pm
Potemkin Village, Disneyland, Sims New Haven whatever you want to call it, it’s fake.
posted by: BevHills730 on March 6, 2018 10:50pm
1644, sorry I’m confused. I thought you said the grocer is from NYC, which would raise the question as to why Alexander overlooked all of the people of color who are entrepreneurs in New Haven. It would be crazy if he couldn’t find local partners and businesses to promote. But either way your insights are helpful for understanding some of the behind-the-scenes motivation of Yale’s economic development goals in New Haven.
posted by: 1644 on March 7, 2018 9:49am
Bev: The original grocer, a person of color, was recruited from NYC because New Haven didn’t have anyone, of color or otherwise, with experience running the type of establishment Alexander wanted: a late night grocer with flowers out front. Yale’s goal in its New Haven commercial real estate is not economic development or assisting people of color. (I don’t know where the present owner is from). As I have said, Yale’s top goals are to make the areas adjacent to its campus, or, as with Broadway, in the middle of its campus, safe and attractive for Yalies, particularly students. The most common reason students reject Yale has long been its location in New Haven, which, not only was neither bucolic like Hanover nor cosmospolitan like Boston/Cambridge, but was also unsafe and run-down. While Alexander cannot make New Haven Hanover or Boston, he has tried to address the perception of it being unsafe and run-down by bringing upscale life to the commercial areas near the campus, including into the evening. I should also add, that Yale’s present New Haven real estate project was undertaken at DeStefano’s specific request, because he wanted New Haven’s real estate market stabilized.
posted by: robn on March 7, 2018 2:33pm
The founders weren’t as flawed as the time in which they lived. I suspect they knew that since they baked in a system of Amendments. If you’ve found a better guarantee of liberties than the evolving US Constitution, please let me know.
posted by: Burnsie on March 9, 2018 3:12am
I think the mayor understands how the system works and with grace and authority will achieve the best result for our city. For those uninformed posters I would like to let them know that we are the best urban district in the nation.
posted by: win win on March 9, 2018 3:16am
posted by: zampano777 on March 9, 2018 7:00pm
CT DRV and anyone else who thinks taxing Yale is the solution to the budget problems of New Haven, are just ignorant. Without Yale, New haven would not be a world-class city and would not attract 1/10th of the people that come here to the museums, concerts, forums, international conferences, the hospital, research facilities, research related to every scientific field there is, small business start-ups and I could go on for PAGES. Fools! Taxing Yale would be biting the hand that feeds you. If you want to tax someone, tax the greedy unions that are draining the city, state and federal coffers by the minute. Hello? The unions gave $1.5 BILLION in “give-backs” to the state? That’s $1.5 BILLION they didn’t really need? Wake up, fools, and face the facts: unions and their greedy administrators, and their votes for dollars tactics have ruined the city of New Haven, corrupted the BOA, and continue to extract more money than ANY for-profit corporation, or even not-for-profit corporation, like Yale, could ever dream of. THAT is why unions are dwindling all over the country. One reason: GREED. Outrageous wages, like $4,000 a weekend for construction workers doing double overtime on the NY subway (six times more expensive than any subway work on earth - see the NY Times article if you don’t believe me). And locally, let’s see - it costs the city $3,000 every time a fire truck leaves the station, maybe more. I wonder why. Union fatcats, that’s why. Firefighters go to MEDICAL calls 79% of the time - this is our fair city’s own statistic, check it for yourself. I wonder who engineered that GIMME into law? Unions. I am not against unions, but I am against union GREED, and THAT, amd mostly THAT is what is killing this city. It has nothing to do with Yale. Yale gives back WAY MORE in actual dollars and in value to this city than taxes ever could. New Haven would be a flea-bitten backwater with one theater and a few bars, and a hell of a lot more ghettos if not for Yale. Wake UP