Tax Hike Response: Yawn

Thomas MacMillan PhotoNo one likes a tax increase. But almost no one showed up to testify about it.

Only a handful of neighbors sat in the blue-cushioned seats at Hillhouse High School’s auditorium Wednesday night at the public’s first chance to speak out about the mayor’s proposed $503 million budget for the coming fiscal year. The budget will likely include a tax increase, according to City Hall. (Some aldermen have said they will try to find ways to avoid a tax increase.)

The chance to speak out came at a road-show meeting of the Board of Aldermen’s Finance Committee, which is charged with reviewing and possibly revising the mayor’s proposed budget before sending it to the full board for further discussion and—eventually—a vote.

The budget offers three revenue options for the coming year, depending on what happens with the yet-to-be-passed state budget. (The city relies heavily on the state for funding.) Each budget option promises a tax increase, which could be from 2.09 to 7.35 mills.

Only two people—both familiar faces at budget hearings past—took the podium.

Wooster Square’s Wendy Hamilton called on Yale to pay more money to the city. “Get angry!” she urged people.

Budget Watchdog Ken Joyner (pictured) delivered a list of technical budget questions to which he’d like the Finance Committee to find answers. And he offered a suggestion: Since the city can’t properly make its budget until the state completes its budget, why not pass an ordinance amendment temporarily extending all current spending to July or August, then pass a budget based on real numbers? The current city budget takes effect July 1.

“Great idea. We can’t do it,” East Rock Alderman (and mayoral candidate) Justin Elicker said after the meeting. He said the city’s charter requires the city to pass a new budget on June 1.

Board President Jorge Perez, a Hill alderman, said the same thing. He said he would ask legislative staff to look into it to make sure.

Elicker said it’s a bad system, and one that should change. He agreed with Joyner that it doesn’t make sense to create the city budget before the state budget is complete. “It’s absurd that we are budgeting before we get a paycheck.”

The finance committee will hold another public hearing on the budget on March 21. Click here for the schedule of all upcoming budget hearings.

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posted by: East Rocker on March 14, 2013  2:15pm

“Great idea. We can’t do it,” East Rock Alderman (and mayoral candidate) Justin Elicker said after the meeting. He said the city’s charter requires the city to pass a new budget on June 1.

Wait - we are in the middle of a Charter Revision process right now.  Why don’t we finally address this?  According to the NHI, there is a Charter Revision Commission meeting next Thursday, March 21.  Can someone who is on the Commission please add this to the agenda?

Here is the schedule of meetings:

posted by: Noteworthy on March 14, 2013  2:35pm

With all due respect, when was the last time the finance committee actually adopted and embraced anything the public suggested? If someone gave this group a road map to savings, which included real cutbacks, shrinkage in the city payroll and reduced debt and more - do you think this group would adopt that road map or make other changes that arrived at the same bottom line number? Or, on the other hand, will it adopt the budget unchanged as in past years, blame the state for PILOT and other perceived state funding slights, and then hand us a tax increase with a note from the mayor that he’s saving us a lot of money etc. etc.

By the way, those who announced they’re going to fight a tax increase this year have in years gone by, folded like a cheap tent at the end of the day.

posted by: darnell on March 14, 2013  2:59pm

Noteworthy, name some names!

posted by: K Joyner on March 14, 2013  3:17pm

Upon further review, the present language of the charter does not restrict the Board of aldermen to act on my above stated recommendation.

As you will see from the charter, all the board need do is to consider and act by June 1.

The key words is CONSIDER and ACT.

From the Charter

ARTICLE XI Sec. 58. - Budgetary procedures

“If on or before the first Monday in June the board of aldermen shall fail to consider and act on the budget recommended by the mayor, then such budget recommended by the mayor shall be final and the appropriations, revenues and the rate of taxation contained therein shall be the legal appropriations and the legal rate of taxation for the city of the ensuing year.

Even if the board performed its action, the mayor can veto and the Board must over-ride a veto by two-thirds vote.

“If the mayor shall disapprove the budget as approved by the board of aldermen, or any part of such budget, he shall issue a veto message and proceed as provided in section 12 of this charter, and a two-thirds vote of the entire board of aldermen shall be required to override said veto”.

Should the board decide to proceed with deliberations as it has in the past 20 years, then, we can only expect the same results..

New tax increases on top of excessive assessments.

As a side note, state law requires a uniform July 1 fiscal tax year, which would necessitate a retroactive budget and taxing authority back to July 1.

It is unfortunate that taxpaying residents, property and automobile, are willing to absorb yet another tax increase without the benefit of their own representation.

Don’t expect the 72% of absentee property owners in New Haven to show up and fight for the interest of the 38% resident owners.

Justin and Jorge, there is nothing that can’t be done.

posted by: Curious on March 14, 2013  3:50pm

Amend the charter so the city budget is linked to when the state budget comes out, so we don’t end up in the same position again years down the line when the state changes when it’s budget comes out.

posted by: jim1 on March 14, 2013  3:55pm

2 people?????????????? that don’t want a tax increase.  Even the Pizza was bad!!!!!!!!!

posted by: THREEFIFTHS on March 14, 2013  4:20pm

Why should you show up.The politicians have already cut the deal.

posted by: wendy1 on March 14, 2013  4:40pm

It is shamefull that the public can’t or wont fight for justice here.  There are 2 more opportunities to speak publicly on the next budget.  I had a lot to say about Yale Corp. and will add to it at the next budget hearing.  I understand that the mgmnt of NHI is biased toward Yale but it is time for YC to REALLY support New Haven not just the token effort we see today.  I will bring evidence with me.  For YC it’s the bottom line not the survival of a mostly black city where there are plenty of desparate people willing to do its dirty work for peanuts.  I suggest people check out Yale on wikipedia for a historical overview of what has become a shockingly greedy entity with a cold-blooded corporate mentality.

posted by: the_regular on March 14, 2013  5:57pm

Related to the issue Joyner raised during the meeting, there’s a bill up for a hearing in the CGA’s Appropriations Committee next week that would require the state to adopt any appropriations related to municipal aid by March 1 of any calendar year.  Would certainly help clear up this timing issue!


posted by: SaveOurCity on March 14, 2013  6:18pm

why did (almost) no one show up?  Is it because all are happy paying more taxes?  Absolutely not.  I’ve attending and testified about the tax increases in previous years…what happened?  what changed?  Absolutely nothing.  The majority of the board and thus the finance committee are bought and paid for - they have close to zero interest in controlling taxes and spending.  After a little window dressing, this budget will also be rubber stamped. 

The only way for residents to have any control is to move away and out from under this game.

posted by: HhE on March 14, 2013  6:55pm

wendy1, I guess Wikipedia is also Yale biased, because when I went there, I could not find out how evil Yale is.  Or maybe, Yale Corporation is so powerful, they got rid of the offending article after your comment appeared on the NHI.

posted by: streever on March 16, 2013  11:54am

I think historically the city has used our early budget as a political tool: DeStefano passes a budget counting on PILOT he *knows* we won’t get, and then acts surprised. Happens over and over again.

Real transparency would occur if we followed Elicker’s suggestion, which would tell us how deep we are in before we pass the budget.

posted by: Anna Mariotti on March 18, 2013  11:04am

Over the next month, Mayor DeStefano will hold meetings at locations across the City in order to provide New Haven residents with information about his proposed City budget for the coming fiscal year. At each meeting, Mayor DeStefano will provide an overview of the City’s proposed budget for fiscal year 2013/2014 and answer questions from residents.

Residents are encouraged to attend these informational meetings in order to gain an understanding of both the City’s budget priorities and the challenges presented for the City as a result of the proposed State budget.

TOMORROW: Tuesday, March 19th at 6:30 PM, St. Bernadette’s Church, 385 Townsend Avenue

Wednesday, March 27th at 7 PM, Roberto Clemente School, 360 Columbus Avenue

Tuesday, April 9th, 6:30 PM, First Baptist Church, 205 Edwards Street

posted by: cedarhillresident! on March 18, 2013  12:33pm

WHY bother this is just a show…they do there wheels and deals behind closed doors and public input is rarely if ever really considered. Before it was JD telling them what to do. Now it is the union doing the deals. Trading this for that…as if we were product. Crazy stuff. I have seen so many alder say one thing FOR SHOW! and do the total opposite And as far as turn out. The general public thinks that their alderman is there voice and will protect them (not make up excuses…it was the state…it was the feds blah blah blah)

REALITY IS THE PUBLIC HAS NO SAY SO! AND THESE so called leaders make deals and for the crumbs they are given in those deals they SELL US ALL OUT! 

gezz I am a grumpy cat today :)

posted by: Wikus van de Merwe on March 18, 2013  4:26pm

Am I connecting all of these dots correctly?

We have a $503M budget for the city, with $396M going to the schools, with a 62.5% graduation rate?

posted by: brain_stringcheese on March 20, 2013  11:35am

maybe no one was there because it wasn’t properly publicized

posted by: Anna Mariotti on March 20, 2013  12:31pm

To clarify: New Haven’s four-year graduation rate is 70.5%, not 62.5%

posted by: Wikus van de Merwe on March 21, 2013  4:52pm

When I quickly looked I could only find the 2010 data because I had it handy from something else I had done previously.  I think it’s misleading to say four-year graduation rates are 70.5%.  It might make sense to you but to most I think it sounds like the average graduation rate over the last 4 years.

2008: 51.1%
2009: 58.1%
2010: 62.5%
2011: 64.3%
2012: 70.5%

But is the rest correct?  78% of our budget is going to schools?