Background: “The coronavirus-induced recession would rip an unprecedented $7 billion from Connecticut’s coffers by 2023 ……. Simply put, from 2021 through 2023, the state’s revenue craters. Analysts project shortfalls ranging from $2 billion to $2.33 billion in each of those three fiscal years.” News Times 4/30
Action: Send letters to the paper, make public comment at the next BOF, BOS, and PBC Meetings. Make your call for sanity heard! Need help? Call me at 203 746 8492.
School Building Fiasco: Does any sentient human being think the State will be able to meet all of its funding commitments? Many economists are predicting a 40+ % decrease in GDP next quarter and 40+ % unemployment. It is time to hit the pause button on this project until the economy shakes out. Forget about the self-imposed but meaningless “deadlines”. I assure you that companies will be much more hungry for work in the future than they were when you entered into agreements. Renegotiate them!
As many of us stated the original “plans” were absurd and we had no idea what we were really voting for. To mix metaphors the pig in the poke has now come home to roost. The plan we voted for has now been called “cost prohibitive” and “unworkable.” What a surprise. Now we need to purchase additional property. And now what are we buying? We still have no real idea.It appears that the gym is even more undersized then originally voted on and that the stated capacity of the auditorium is reduced from the already undersized auditorium in the original proposal.
This process has been horrendous. My fellow Selectmen ran on open government and prioritizing transparency. To purchase property required a referral from the Planning Commission. The First Selectman stated in this paper last week that she became aware of the availability last fall. Why did she wait until April 8th to notify the Chair of Planning and then request a rushed special meeting April 15th? While there is no requirement to publish such a meeting in the paper why was this purchase never mentioned beforehand? Why was the courtesy of notifying neighbors never extended? Previous property issues have been very well publicised and had significant periods of open discussion.
Why were the agenda and minutes of a BOS meeting on March 16th, where the BOS voted in public session to offer $325,000 for the purchase of the property, never posted to the Town website?
BOE Budget: This year the BOF in their latest round of requested cuts has asked to see the results of the same amount cut from both the BOE and the BOS budgets. The BOE budget is roughly three times the size of the BOS budget and in previous years the requested cut usually reflected that same ratio. Why the imbalance this year?
It is worth noting that the BOE budget has increased significantly while its student population has decreased. Comparing the BOE budget
Continued from previous column
from 15-16 when I left the BOE to the current year’s initial request is revealing. The cost per student of just the BOE operating plus Cap and Non (to be fair I left out interest charges, SRO’s, health insurance, GASB etc,) for 15-16 was $13,161. In the initial requested 20-21 budget the cost per student is $17,082. That is a 29.8% increase. Even more shocking the increase in the administration line from 15-16 to the current initial request is 45.6%! Where are the results?
BOS Budget: Common sense would dictate that this is not a year to add employees or to increase existing employees hours. But once again my fellow Selectmen have voted to meet the BOF’s requested reductions by kicking the can down the road. Instead of freezing payroll they have voted to take cuts in multiple capital areas. These are items that must be done eventually. Cutting them now in no way reduces the long term impact on the taxpayer. They will simply have to be done in a future budget when the increase in interest from the school bonding (if it happens) will be significantly greater.
I have argued that we should add no additional positions or hours and that we should renegotiate employee contracts to eliminate the coming fiscal year’s raises. I appreciate unions, I have been paying union dues since 1978. But it is clear to me that anyone who has a guaranteed paycheck for the next year should be pretty damn grateful. I don’t think it is appropriate to give a 2.5% raise this year to myself either. I suspect most of our town employees, good hard working people, would entirely understand the situation we all find ourselves in.
Make your voice heard. Tell the boards we need an increase no higher than 0%.