Alders Play Hardball With Mayor’s Raises

Thomas Breen photoThe average city homeowner will save around $10 on his or her new property tax bill if alders follow through on plans to strip city department budgets by nearly half of a million dollars and put that money instead towards reducing the new 11 percent tax increase.

The effort represents a direct rebuttal of the mayor’s recent allocation of $483,172 in raises (over two years) to non-unionized city department heads and other positions that hadn’t seen raises for up to seven years.

On Monday night, alders took one step closer to making those plans a reality at the end of a three-hour Finance Committee meeting in the Aldermanic Chambers on the second floor of City Hall.

The alders on the Finance Committee voted unanimously to recommend approval of an ordinance amendment that would reduce 16 city department budgets by a total of $483,172. The proposed amendment would then reallocate that money towards a newly created line in the budget dedicated to mill rate reduction.

Monday night’s proposed ordinance amendment, which will require two hearings and a vote by the full Board of Alders before it can take effect, represents the alders’ first public attempt this budget season to take actual dollars from the city budget and use those dollars specifically and exclusively for reducing city taxes.

The new budget raised the city’s property mill rate from 38.68 to 42.98. One mill corresponds to $1 in taxes for every $1,000 of assessed taxable real estate. Since the average New Haven home is assessed at just under $140,000, according to the 2016 grand list reassessment, the 11 percent tax increase raised property taxes for the average city homeowner by around $600.

The proposed ordinance amendment would chip around $10 from that average homeowner’s new tax bill by lowering the mill rate to around 42.91.

The alders made clear on Monday night that the $483,172 referenced in the proposed amendment is not an arbitrary number. It corresponds to the exact sum of the raises that the mayor recently gave to 36 city government “executive management and confidential” employees, meaning top aides and department heads not covered by a union contract. The total includes raises for the coming year and a retroactive year of raises.

“We were not happy with the way the raises were put out,” said Board of Alders President and West River Alder Tyisha Walker-Myers, one of the drafters and most outspoken proponents of the proposed ordinance amendment. “We think this was not the right time to do it. For me, everything is about proper planning. And I don’t think this was properly planned.”

City spokesperson Laurence Grotheer said the mayor’s office will refrain from commenting on the proposed ordinance amendment as it has not yet been approved, let alone voted on, by the full board. He said the mayor’s office will provide a comment on the proposed legislation if and when it becomes law.

The director of legislative services, who is employed by the alders and not by the mayor, also received a raise in the spring. However, alders took no umbrage with his raise because, as they said on Monday night, they had known months in advance that he was going to get a raise and had explicitly budgeted for an increase to his salary line item in this year’s budget.

The vote came as one of the most pointed rebuffs that the alders have delivered to Mayor Toni Harp thus far after passing at the end of May an amended version of the mayor’s $547.1 million general operating budget that preserved the original budget’s 11 percent tax increase for the fiscal year that started July 1.

Later in June, alders voted unanimously to override the mayor’s veto of an order that requires all new city revenue that doesn’t come in with strings attached to be put towards mitigating the tax increase.

Alders consistently received complaints from city residents throughout the budget making process about the difficulties that many will face in shouldering a larger tax burden. Two weeks ago, dozens of disgruntled citizens met up on Whalley Avenue to share and strategize around their concerns about paying higher taxes.

Communication Breakdown?

The eight committee alders present at Monday night’s hearing engaged in a tense hour-and-a-half back-and-forth with mayoral Chief of Staff Tomas Reyes and Corporation Counsel John Rose, Jr. about the $483,172 in raises to 36 different non-unionized executive management and confidential employees.

Reading calmly from a written statement, Reyes said the mayor was well within her right to give out the raises, which took effect on June 11, 2018, with retroactive pay effective July 1, 2017 through June 8, 2018.

The money for the raises, Reyes explained, came from the $1.8 million contract reserve line item included in the Fiscal Year 2018-19 (FY19) budget that the alders approved at the end of May.

He said the raises all fit within the salary ranges laid out in the city’s Personnel and Procedures Manual, which was approved by the Board of Alders towards the end of Mayor John DeStefano’s tenure and made effective on Dec. 27, 2011.

“The Board of Alders has not revisited the salary ranges for executive management and confidential employees since 2011,” he read. “As a result, bargaining unit employees in certain departments were actually earning more than department heads.”

Reyes said the mayor decided to issue these raises now because of the recent approval of the new Local 3144 contract, which granted hundreds of unionized management and professional city employees a 7.25 percent cumulative raise between 2015 and 2018. He said the bulk of the beneficiaries of the mayor’s raises received 7.5 percent lump sum salary increases.

The alders, led by Walker-Myers, were having none of it. They criticized the mayor for not being public or transparent aabout her decision to issue the raises, for doing so at a uniquely inopportune time as the city stares down a projected $15 million budget deficit and an actual 11 percent tax increase, and for not being present at Monday night’s Finance Committee hearing to explain and defend the decision. (The mayor was at the regularly scheduled Board of Education meeting on Monday night.)

Nearly all of the criticism the alders levied at Reyes had less to do with the actual dollar amount of the raises and more to do with the process by which the mayor issued them.

“Why wasn’t this talked about during the budget season?” Walker-Myers asked.

Reyes said the mayor had been advised to tie the executive management salary raises to the timing of the Local 3144 contract. He said many of the department heads had not seen a raise since 2011, and that, while he and the mayor had spoken over a year ago about issuing the raises, they decided to hold off until the new Local 3144 contract was approved.

Dixwell Alder Jeanette Morrison said the mayor’s office should have engaged aldermanic leadership throughout the spring as to their plans to issue the raises after the union contract was complete.

“This is supposed to be a relationship,” she said about the collaboration between the mayor and the alders. She said the mayor’s decision to give out these raises without seeking approval or even input from the alders showed a lack of respect for the alders and the people they represent.

“To throw a dagger in the people’s back,” she said, “to backdoor the people was wrong. … We represent the people. You represent the people. But you’re acting like you just represent yourselves. And that’s not nice.”

Westville Alder and Finance Committee Co-Chair Adam Marchand asked Reyes about the sizes of the salary increases.

Reyes (a former Board of Alders president) said the bulk of the 36 recipients got 7.5 percent increases. He said some received less because they had gotten other raises within the last four years. Some got more, he said, because the mayor issued “equity increases” on top of the standard 7.5 percent because those employees were making significantly less than the workers they supervise and than comparable employees in other cities. He said five employees received those types of “equity increases.”

Throughout the hearing, the alders piled informational requests upon Reyes to provide a fuller explanation of the mayor’s actions and intentions. They asked him for the list of “equity increase” recipients and the legal justification for pulling non-union raises from the contract reserve line item.

They asked him to provide examples of how previous mayoral administrations have handled executive management salary increases. Reyes said this was Harp’s first time issuing this type of raise, but that Mayor DeStefano had on multiple occasions issued similar raises without getting aldermanic approval.

East Rock Alder Anna Festa said city residents are giving up a lot with the new 11 percent tax increase. “What is the mayor giving up?” she asked. “What are the department heads giving up?”

“This should have been a conversation,” Walker-Myers continued. “The administration was told: This is not the right way to do this. But you did this anway.”

During a brief public testimony that followed the alders’ grilling of Reyes, city budget watchdogs Gary Doyens and Nadine Horton and Downtown Alder Abby Roth took their turns voicing similar criticisms of the raises.

“To intentionally hide it and just claim the authority is wrong,” Doyens said.

“Now is simply not the time to give these raises,” Roth followed.

”Wrong Time”

Ultimately, the alders voted to recommend approval of an ordinance amendment that doesn’t necessarily retract the raises, but nevertheless takes aim at the department head beneficiaries to the tune of the exact same amount that they collectively received from the mayor.

The proposed ordinance amendment pulls $483,172 from 16 different departmental budget line items, including $133,124 from the finance department’s Office of Technology Maintenance Agreements, $78,786 from Human Resources Other Contractual, $22,500 from Corporation Counsel Other Contractual Services, and a combined $52,260 from Economic Development.

Walker-Myers said the alders decided not to pull any money from smaller departments like the Fair Rent Commission or the Assessor’s office because those departments are already so small, even after the mayor’s raises.

Marchand said the proposed ordinance amendment represents the alders’ priorities of communication, transparency, and working to find potential savings for taxpayers. “I think that stands in contrast to the priorities of the administration as revealed in this matter,” he said.

“Putting this amendment in now forces a different kind of communication and conversation with the administration,” Walker-Myers said. She said she actually believes that many of the department heads are deserving of the raises. But, she said, the process by which the raises were given out warranted a strong push back from the alders.

“I just think that it was the wrong time,” she said.

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posted by: Noteworthy on July 10, 2018  7:49am

Hide, Seek and Entitlement Notes:

1. The mayor and all but one of those getting the raises hid the fact they were getting them. The raises were not included in their department budgets; there were no notes; there was nothing to indicate Mayor Harp intended and the recipients were going to accept these monster raises.

2. Harp and her team engineered the slight of hand by ravaging the “union contract reserve” which is a budget line item used to pay union contract settlements. In doing so, with the police and fire unions still to settle, that budget now has half a million dollars less in it.

3. If these department insiders wanted that money, felt they deserved that money and the public should pay that money - it should have been budgeted openly, discussed, disclosed as a matter of routine in the budget document - which under every single department, lists the salaries by position. These raises were not included in any of those departments.

4. For the record - the union #3144 got a 7 or 8% raise - but it’s across multiple years, not lump sum from one year and then duplicated the next year - effectively giving FOT (Friends of Toni) employees anywhere from 10 to 37% pay raises on some of the highest paid people in city government.

5. But the mayor is ok handing us the taxpayer - an 11% tax hike. $30,000,000.

6. Meanwhile - the May 31 financial report shows more than $15,000,000 deficit - and Finance Director Gormany - who lives in Branford, testified he has no idea how the deficit will be closed.

posted by: robn on July 10, 2018  9:12am

Political theater.

Here’s an idea…go back in time and reject the 11% tax hike like you should have.

posted by: 1644 on July 10, 2018  9:33am

What do the budget reductions mean?  Will computers and copiers go un-repaired due to lack of maintenance contracts?  Will HR be unable to do pre-employment physicals and background screenings?

posted by: observer1 on July 10, 2018  10:17am

I worked for private companies for a number of years, and can tell you how a company in the same financial condition as the city would react. All non union contractual salaries would immediately be frozen, not increased retroactively. All discretionary nonessential expenditures would be frozen. All emergency expenditures would be subject to overview and approval by the comptroller and CEO (in the case of the city this probably would not work with the existing mayor). Monies that are not legally committed to be spent would not be spent, period. All department heads would be required to resubmit budgets justifying every line item in their budgets. To make this happen effectively, serious leadership that wants to cut expenses to the bone needs to be doing the reviews. I do not believe the city has this type of leadership. The BOA is currently trying to close the barn door after the horse is out. The mayor is doing as she pleases with our tax dollars and does not appear to know anything about fiscal responsibility.  Quite frankly, I am disgusted by the logic and the decisions of the mayor and her staff. She is either ignorant of how budgets should work, completely incompetent, or just does not care about the people paying the taxes. Like Trump, she has a base that she panders to, who will support her regardless of what she does. The rest of us need to rise up, be loud and take action to get her out of office. We need to stop her now, or we need to vote with our collective feet and leave town. Hopefully, we can sell our real estate to some very rich person. I personally do not forecast a happy ending for the responsible folks let in this city who own property.

posted by: ClassActionToo on July 10, 2018  10:21am

“the recent approval of the new Local 3144 contract ...” The mayor’s behind the scenes push for the approval of this contract was her backdoor justification for the raises for herself and her non-union staff. Very sleazy and very backroom Madame Mayor. Send the mayor/Democratic Town Team a strong message (well not really that strong since the Alders already approved Harp’s budget), that she was wrong to issues these raises, particularly at this time.

posted by: Christopher Schaefer on July 10, 2018  10:40am

Ooh! Don’t mess with THESE folks! “Alders Play Hardball”, “a direct rebuttal of the mayor”, “one of the most pointed rebuffs that the alders have delivered to Mayor Toni Harp thus far”, “engaged in a tense hour-and-a-half back-and-forth with mayoral Chief of Staff Tomas Reyes and Corporation Counsel John Rose, Jr.”
—and I’ll save $10 on my property tax bill. Really.
“The director of legislative services, who is employed by the alders…also received a raise in the spring. However, alders took no umbrage with his raise because…they… had explicitly budgeted for an increase to his salary”
bla bla bla. Whatever.
Ten. Whole. Dollars.

posted by: WereUthere? on July 10, 2018  10:43am

Hey CITY OF NEW HAVEN OFFICIALS (WHOEVER OVER THERE THAT GETS TO MAKE THESE DECISIONS)

Can the NHPD get 7.5% raises too since we haven’t had raises in years???

OH WAIT, you guys don’t want to give us any raises.. that’s right.

Nevermind.

NH is a joke, from the Mayor down.

posted by: Patricia Kane on July 10, 2018  11:02am

I second Robn’s suggestion.
Just because you have the right does not mean it’s right to exercise it, especially when the people who will pay for it are already pushed to the max.

posted by: Paul Wessel on July 10, 2018  11:09am

An odd response:  We’re pissed at you for giving raises to your department heads, so we’re going to take away an equivalent amount from the operating budgets for the departments.  It’s hard to understand what less asphalt for public works, fewer lead test kits for the health department, and not buying safety vests for school crossing guards achieves.  You can keep my ten bucks to fill potholes.

posted by: FacChec on July 10, 2018  11:35am

This fake action full of tough talk by Walker-Meyers, Jeanette (dagger in the peoples back) Morrison, and Adam Marchand is just that, fake foolish legislation which violates the charter.
Sec. 1. - Budgetary procedures; duties of the Mayor, City Clerk, Board of Alders.
Sec. 2. - Allotments.
A. After the annual budget has been approved for the ensuing fiscal year and before the beginning of such fiscal year, each Department and Board or Commission shall submit to the Controller a work program which shall show the proposed allotments of the department’s appropriation for the entire fiscal year by monthly or quarterly periods as prescribed by the Controller. The Controller shall approve such allotments for each department, with such amendments as determined by said Controller in consultation with said department. Revisions to allotments during the year may be made upon request of the department and approval of the Controller.
Therefore, after the budget has been passed the dept heads must propose allotments of appropriations for the entire year. This process is necessary due to the fact the Mayors budget, forwarded in Feb. is just an estimate of revenues and expenditures. After passage of the budget, Sec.2 allows the department heads to set their final spending requirements per line items, approved by the controller only. Here the dept heads are authorized to set and adjust salaries for all employees and all line items, even if they differ from what the BOA already approved. Clearly, the Alders again failed to read, understand and properly enact budget amendments before June 1, of each year. This is just another example of the Mayor’s office getting over on a sleeping BOA, who, once awakened, demands justification in the name of the taxpayer. The same taxpayer who they just demeaned by passing this $547.1M budget. They are attempting to save grace by cherry picking monies out of the dept line items, they just unanimously approved. Hard ball..really??

posted by: Gary Stewart on July 10, 2018  1:01pm

there is another ” money pit” out there which no one is talking about : The Nicole Jefferson legal action. We have , so far , spent at least as much defending that case , with much more to come if no one asks any questions, than we have w/ the raises.  Apparently , the Mayor is appealing the arbitration award but has said nothing publicly. My Alder , Evette Hamilton , is refusing to share any info. , if she has any, w/ me. My Ward Co-Chairs appear to have no interest in finding out what’s going on . My next move will be to ask The BOA president to tell me something and to research making a FOI request.  I suggest that you readers/ commentators do the same.

posted by: 1644 on July 10, 2018  1:30pm

Gary: As you should know,  under the FOIA,  matters related to pending litigation are exempt from disclosure.

posted by: Sean O'Brien on July 10, 2018  2:18pm

I’d like to know what the situation is with the rudderless ED office is at the moment, and going forward. That would inspire some hope for real change in policy. The previous/current leadership is decidedly anti-taxpayer, and continuation of policy and focus on projects that lose money hand-over-fist doesn’t inspire confidence when we’re in the same boat for 2019.

posted by: 1644 on July 10, 2018  2:45pm

Sean: After flipping through erectile dysfunction and education, I am guessing you mean economic development?

posted by: FacChec on July 10, 2018  2:57pm

@ Gary Steward & 1644

The question regarding Alder assistance seeking the FOIA for information in matters related to pending litigation being exempt from disclosure, is a moot question and answer.

“NEW HAVEN — Nichole Jefferson Monday won reinstatement to her position as executive director of the Commission on Equal Opportunities, almost three years after she was fired.
The Board of Mediation and Arbitration also ordered the city to give her back pay to Aug. 6, 2015. Jefferson, a 19-year city employee, was earning an annual salary of $92,505 when she was terminated.
The three-member panel also ruled that she should be made whole for contractual benefits starting on Aug. 1, 2017, until she is back to work. It said she did not have to return the $13,500 in unemployment benefits she won in two appeals.”

https://www.nhregister.com/news/article/New-Haven-ex-commission-leader-Nichole-Jefferson-12800572.php

posted by: FacChec on July 10, 2018  3:17pm

@Gary Steward and 1644

You asked about” the rudderless Education dept. now and going forward, and suggested that you the readers/ commentators do the same.”
Answer 1. “NEW HAVEN — Nichole Jefferson Monday won reinstatement to her position as executive director of the Commission on Equal Opportunities, almost three years after she was fired.
The Board of Mediation and Arbitration also ordered the city to give her back pay to Aug. 6, 2015. Jefferson, a 19-year city employee, was earning an annual salary of $92,505 when she was terminated.”

https://www.nhregister.com/news/article/New-Haven-ex-commission-leader-Nichole-Jefferson-12800572.php

Answer 2: As of yesterday’s BOE meeting they remain in a nose dive, although they do have a new rudder in the name of Supt. Dr. Birks, who Mayor and board president Darnell Goldson are undermining at every attempt she is making to right this sinking ship. This ship without a mast is sinking due to a current 7M deficit and a $20M deficit for the 18/19 budget.
Oh..BTW this BOA reduced the BOE ask by $5M so as to pay a deficit health care benefit line shared by the city and BOE employees. Nevertheless, this BOARD OF ALDERS APPROVED a $187.2 BOE general fund budget, without even knowing the balance of the BOE’s $400M plus yearly budget. Brilliant

posted by: WildwildWestEducator on July 10, 2018  3:23pm

Keep the $10, The alders shouldn’t have ever allowed this train wreck to happen. They need to grow a pair and put a stop to this mayor and her rubber stamp.  So she didn’t go to this meeting so she could go to the BOE meeting, she is paying a liaison , why couldn’t he go. What else does he do for six figures. It isn’t advocating for the youth! The Escape is probably not going to open, Youth Stat is becoming a joke and less teens have summer jobs. What does he do everyday?

posted by: 1644 on July 10, 2018  3:36pm

Fac: Isn’t the city appealing the arbitration panel decision?  Presumably in Superior Court?

posted by: Patricia Kane on July 10, 2018  3:54pm

@FacCheck: Don’t forget Mendi Blue and Marcus Paca have lawsuits pending as well. They both challenged their firing by Harp.  This could be another big pay day at the City’s expense.

posted by: Gary Stewart on July 10, 2018  3:56pm

Fac and 1614: We received the info. Fac quoted from The Register , in early April. Yes , the decision gave all that to Jefferson, but , apparently, the City is appealing , since Jefferson is not back to work and hasn’t received the $. My point is : shouldn’t we , the taxpayers , hear something about this from the Mayor , such as a statement saying that she’s appealing. Shouldn’t the Register and NHI ( I’ve asked about this Paul) tell us something? It seems like there’s some sort of news blockade about this case.

posted by: FacChec on July 10, 2018  3:59pm

@1644

Nope, according to the NHR article: Laurence Grotheer, spokesman for Mayor Toni Harp, when asked for a comment, said: “Outside counsel and city attorneys are still reviewing the decision.” That review continues as of today! The Mayor’s office remains silent on the issue. It is hard to tell where the pay-off money is being paid, since the CEO has been incorporated into the Economic development Office under on leave without pay Matt Nemerson.

Have to ask former union leader Cherlyn Poindexter.

posted by: Sean O'Brien on July 10, 2018  4:12pm

I meant the Economic Development office, thought there is no lack of direction in other places.

posted by: Patricia Kane on July 10, 2018  4:36pm

Bulletin: Nemerson is back on the job.

posted by: anonymous on July 10, 2018  4:56pm

The Alders’ top policy priority should be expanding Tweed-New Haven so that we can bring more taxable property and jobs to downtown New Haven. 

Without at least another flight or two, very few businesses here can bring any conferences, events, and meetings to town, to say nothing of corporate offices.  Cities like Boston/Cambridge, NYC, Portland, Austin, Atlanta, and Washington DC all have airport service within an easy 10-20 minute drive of their downtown areas.  Having Bradley an hour away (when there’s no traffic) just doesn’t cut it.  Even Yale, a huge private contributor to city tax rolls in terms of their building permits, is reluctant to expand here, and is now focusing its money into other areas.

The runway area is already there, the road has been moved, and it just needs to be approved.  With a couple trucks worth of asphalt to pave that area and essentially zero impact on the environment, all of this could easily change.  New Haven would see a construction/tax boomlet for the next 10-20 years, at least.

posted by: BlueDogMom on July 11, 2018  7:43am

The Independent wants suggestions.  Here is one:  Set up a petition for mayoral recall and impeachment.  Have another election.  If anyone doesn’t feel the alders have done their job protecting New Haven citizens, begin a petition to recall each and every one who has supported this ridiculous tax increase.  With online forums this should not be too difficult. Maybe then they will begin to actually make substantial changes.

posted by: Sean O'Brien on July 11, 2018  8:51am

@anonymous “The Alders’ top policy priority should be expanding Tweed-New Haven”

This really is a religion for you guys, isn’t it?  Tweed as panacea, the philosopher’s stone.

posted by: Patricia Kane on July 11, 2018  9:45am

The people of New Haven already subsidize Tweed.
  When the city delivers a health study of the impact on New Haven residents from the airport, then you can bring this up again. Until that information is available, there should be a freeze on any discussion.

posted by: anonymous on July 11, 2018  10:24am

Sean: It’s an issue that is not only killing New Haven taxpayers, it is also dragging down the entire state of Connecticut, since many people throughout the state work in New Haven and the state could use some of the additional revenue, too. 

In fact, the state’s Commission on Fiscal Stability’s top recommendations in 2018 is “For Tweed airport, repeal as soon as possible the legislation limiting runway length.” 

The Commission is a group of statewide experts and leaders from different industries, not a bunch of religious zealots.

posted by: Sean O'Brien on July 11, 2018  11:17am

@anonymous The reality of the past few months does not shine a positive light on that report.  Many of the recommendations (e.g. huge and expensive industrial projects) are at odds with the other goals contained within (e.g. “Sustainably balanced budgets” and “Achieve sustainable high quality of life for all Connecticut residents”).

Growth ideology is completely out-of-touch with the reality of our State’s budget problems, let alone our City’s.

Setting aside the players who influenced the report, you overstate the actual importance of Tweed in the document.  It’s one of the last mentions in a string of projects, in a paragraph that’s really about Malloy’s transportation “lock box”:

“Connecticut must invest in transportation and provide a stable funding source to pay for transportation investments that cannot be raided by the legislature for non-transportation expenditures. Priorities include: congestion-reducing highway improvements, higher speed rail service from Hartford, New Haven and Stamford to New York City, improved service at Bradley International Airport, repeal legislation limiting runway length at Tweed Airport and investment in Connecticut’s deep-water ports.”

https://www.cga.ct.gov/fin/tfs/20171205_Commission on Fiscal Stability and Economic Growth/20180301/Final Report with Appendix.pdf

The comment “repeal legislation…” is completely out-of-place and clumsily inserted… perhaps to coincide with the heavy legislative lobbying we saw last spring?  The other mentions of Tweed are similar, have no meat to them, certainly no actual evidence.  Instead we get speculation about reducing I-95 congestion.

“It’s an issue that is not only killing New Haven taxpayers, it is also dragging down the entire state of Connecticut, since many people throughout the state work in New Haven and the state could use some of the additional revenue, too.”

This is pure fantasy, unless the “issue” you mention is the funding of Tweed in the first place.

posted by: cellardoor on July 12, 2018  2:18pm

As an East Rock taxpayer, I attended this BOA Finance Committee meeting, and must somehow have missed the “hardball” part: I came away discouraged by the fact that members of the committee didn’t really appear to have a strong grasp of the numbers, chain of events, and hazards we face—with the possible exception of Anna Festa— neither did they appear to have any strong ideas about what to do besides whining about “a conversation” and “stabs in the back” when affronted by the testimony of ill-informed, self-dealing, dysfunctional city executive staff (at least one of whom lives in Oxford). 

The big picture is: it makes no difference how long it has been since city managers and confidential staff have had a raise, so long as they continue to guide the city into a ditch. If Toni Harp were earning half her current salary, but guides the fiscal status of the city deeper into crisis, then she still is overpaid.  This is where the quaint concept of “performance review” comes in. 

I had a small business that was pressured for years by adverse macroeconomic trends in my field.  During those years, I was able to pay the increases on my employees’ health insurance premiums, and to keep up with cost-of-living increases for them, but I myself, the owner of the business,  but often had to forego drawing any salary for myself.  This weak mayor doesn’t deserve a raise, and should not have accepted one as the city nears the brink.  Nor should longtime “pet rock” members of the Board of Alders be celebrating their hardball game, after approving the last budget.

Everyone, please look on-line at New Haven’s standing on Wallethub’s 2017 ranking of best/worst city management (as measured by [budget per capita/quality of services]): of 150 cities, we rank #124 of 150 cities, our worst factors being financial stability (#143) and our economy (#139). To me, this does not spell a 7% raise in a year in which deficit spending is up, AND a high mill rate is increased.

posted by: cellardoor on July 12, 2018  2:58pm

I’m reposting this link because it is important to reward city employees according to performance, and to have some objective measures of how their performance compares with other cities.  The Board of Alders need to be doing some deep soul-searching about their own performance, as well.  Should there not be a rule that they recuse themselves on issues in which they have substantial conflicts of interest?  Let’s say, for instance, that one union is supporting another to the potential detriment of city residents and municipal fiscal health, and members of that union serve on the BOA—that example just popped into my mind for some reason.

https://wallethub.com/edu/best-run-cities/22869/

posted by: cellardoor on July 12, 2018  7:46pm

Let me get this straight:  is the mayor, and are her executives arguing that if they were paid more they would do a better job, or would attract better candidates with which they would replace ... themselves? Is that not an example of a cart being placed before a horse?

posted by: 1644 on July 12, 2018  8:31pm

Cellar:  That’s precisely why state law mandates that salaries for elected offices be set BEFORE the election, and and raises of the sort the BoA granted Harp.  People should know what the salary for a position is before they run for it.  Running for a position implies an acceptance of the salary set for that position.  Had the salary been higher,  New Haven might have gotten more competent candidates than Harp and Paca.  As it was, Harp asked for an illegal increase, which the BoA granted, after the election, but before the scale of the city’s fiscal problems was apparent.  (She also kept a lid on the scale of the problems until after her China junket.)

posted by: 1644 on July 12, 2018  8:53pm

If the Alders want to cut wasteful spending, they could look at their own budget.  It’s nearly a million dollars.  Branford, with an RTM the size of New Haven’s BoA, a budget about 18% of New Havens and a population 23%. of New Haven’s, has a legislative budget of less than $20K.  The BoA actually has its own fiscal analyst, who has been doing what?  Certainly not analyzing the budget to inform the Alders how out of balance Harp’s proposals have been.  (The FARC has been doing that for free.)