Archive for ‘budget’

June 30, 2011

How Much Will Wolcott Lose in ‘Plan B’?

After last week’s union rejection of an agreement with state government, the pointing of fingers has begun. Yet, those fingers aren’t willing to plug the $1.4 to 3 Billion leak in the state budget’s dam. But what exactly will change is yet to be seen. Constitutionally, it seems that the legislature is in control of the state budget still. Even after adjourning their session on June 8th, it is that branch of government who controls the state’s purse strings. Last Friday the Governor ordered them back into session. If he could make budget cuts – or at least budget cuts to the extent necessary to balance the budget – himself, he could have done so without summoning them back to the Capitol.

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June 17, 2011

State Union Agreement: Some Vote “No”

courtesy: CTNewsJunkie.com

courtesy: CTNewsJunkie

By Christine Stuart
CTNewsJunkie – After the legislature approved a state budget with over $2 Billion in the balance, state unions have begun voting on a new agreement to balance the state’s budget. Over the last few weeks, state union members have held closed door meetings and posted discussion on talkboards, including 201 comments on this CTMirror article and others, on whether or not to approve Gov. Malloy’s concession package.

At least one of the 34 bargaining groups and one of the locals, which is part of the larger Correction Officer’s bargaining group, voted against the State Employees Bargaining Agent Coalition’s tentative agreement, according to sources.

The one bargaining group to vote against the $1.6 billion concession deal was

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June 15, 2011

The Tax Man Is On The Way

Taxpayers won’t notice the new income tax increase immediately, but that’s because the increased withholding, which is retroactive to January won’t be taken out of their checks until Aug. 1.
As part of the two-year, $40.11 billion state budget that still has to be ratified by the state employee unions, income taxes were expanded and increased and the property tax exemption was reduced for middle income earners.
The income tax click to continue reading at CTNewsJunkie

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June 8, 2011

Town Council Approves Budget; Tax Rate

The Wolcott Town Council passed the fiscal 2011-2012 budget at last nights meeting – June 7, 2011. In addition there were several other items of significance on the agenda.

The budget passed with little discussion and many congratulatory speeches.

 The mill rate was set at 22.68, the same as last year, so individual tax bills will be unchanged barring any changes to the property.

In addition, the Town Council appointed the current Deputy Police Chief Edward L. Stephens to Police Chief. It was mentioned that there would be no Deputy Chief and Councilor Masi noted that the hierarchy would be changed with just a Chief and a Captain.

Mayor Dunn gave a presentation on

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May 24, 2011

Town Council Nearing Final Budget Decisions

After over a month of hearings involving each town department and the Board of Education, the Town Council is holding its final deliberations on the budget at a workshop tonight at Alcott School. Mayor Thomas G. Dunn proposed a Municipal Budget which is $723,517.51 lower than last year’s. Most of this savings came from refinancing the town’s debt service to lower interest rates.

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Click Gen’l Gov’t 2011-2012 Proposed Budget to view Mayor Dunn’s proposed budget
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The Board of Education is

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April 4, 2011

In Time For Tax Day: Mayor, Legislators Hold Budget Discussions

With just over a week before Tax Day, discussions in Town Hall tonight and tommorwo will revolve around exactly how your money will be spent at the Town and State levels. With a sluggish economy and towns tightening their belts, residents in Wolcott are anxious over whether or not their tax burden will increase or decrease. Gov. Malloy has proposed a variety of increases in taxes, including the sales tax and gas tax. A number of additional special taxes are being proposed in addition to an increase in next year’s budget by over $100 million.

Markley and Sampson will hold a Town Hall meeting tonight from 6 – 8 pm at

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March 9, 2011

Residents Spar With Malloy Over Budget

It was standing room only and then some.

In a tightly packed room meant to only hold 150 people, Waterbury area residents gathered to listen and share their thoughts with Connecticut’s newly elected Governor. The new Veterans Hall within renovated City Hall hosted Dannel Malloy’s 4th Town Hall Meeting in just over two weeks. Malloy unveiled a two year proposal to close Connecticut’s massive $3+ billion deficit with hopes for $1 B in government employee concessions and taxes on virtually everything.

People began gathering at 5 pm according to some attendees, and at 6:30 the Veterans Hall was full. On the opposite end of City Hall, a video screen was set up in Aldermanic Chambers for another 100. Rumors were that the Mayor Jarjura tried to get the forum moved

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March 7, 2011

Malloy Comes To Hear Local Feedback

Governor Malloy will be making his 4th stop on his statewide budget tour in Waterbury on Tuesday evening. Anyone from the public is welcome to attend and ask the Governor any question they want regarding his proposals for the 2011-2013 state budget.

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February 21, 2011

Tuesday’s Special Elections Could Impact Governor Malloy’s Tax Hike Proposal

Special Elections will be held in the shaded areas. State House races are in yellow, Senate in green

Shortly after taking office, Gov. Malloy needed additional staff to run his administration. Being the first elected Democrat to the office in 20 years, he looked to those with experience within his own party. This prompted a tidal wave of resignations of 8 of the most prominent legislators from the state house and senate. A 9th legislator – Sen. Tom Gaffey of Meriden – resigned for unrelated reasons stemming from larceny charges where he double billed the state for expenses for himself and his girlfriend.

Special elections will be held this Tuesday to ensure that the 18 towns affected have proper representation. The legislature has been in session for just over a month, although no meaningful legislation has been voted upon except in committees which are currently reviewing bill proposals. Once the new legislators are elected though, they will hit the ground running to analyze Gov. Malloy’s budget proposal. How many seats Republicans pick up could have an impact to whether Malloy gets what he wants, or an alternative plan is approved.

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November 1, 2009

School Board Approves Administrators’ Contract

Update: The Wolcott Whisper regretfully apologizes that key information in this article appears to be incorrect. The present administrators are currently at Step 4 in the pay scale. Thus, because there are only 4 step levels, they will only recieve the 0%-3.5%-3.5% salary schedule. If a new administrator were to come into the school system they would typically begin at step 1 (unless the BOE offers a higher step to entice a particularly desireable candidate). That candidate could then be eligible to move up each year (but eligibilty may not always translate into that move).

The Board of Education approved a three year contract with school administrators at their October 13th meeting. The contract was approved on a 7-0 vote. Mrs. Najarian and Mr. Mango were absent. The contract begins at the start of the next fiscal year on July 1, 2010 and runs through 2013. It awards school Principals, Vice Principals and the directors of special education and athletics a pay freeze in the first year, followed by 3.5% pay increases the following two years. This translates to raises of $6603 – $7661 over the course of the contract, depending upon the position.

In addition to 3.5% raises in the second and third year of the contract, if a new administrator were hired, they could receive pay grade increases. New administrators will be eligible to recieve step increases in each of the three years, including the first. Step increass are 3.2-5.0% depending upon the position and step grade. If a new administrator were hired, they could eventually earn a 19-23.6% by year 3 of their base pay depending upon the position.

For instance, according to the contract’s wage table, a starting Elementary School Principals could earn $101,359 base pay in the current fiscal year. All new employees under the contract are eligible for a step increase each year, including the first year when the salary increase is frozen. Thus, because an administrator moves from step one to step two, they will make $106,359 in the first year of the contract. The second year they can move to step three with a 3.5% increase in the previous year’s step three salary. As a result, they would earn $115,192. The third year would earn a 3.5% increase plus a step increase, and ultimately ean $125,292.

The net increase for a hypothetically new elementary school principals would be 23.6% or $23,612 over the three year contract. But keep in mind that our present elementary school principals will not be doing that. Because they are already at Step 4, their three year pay increase will be $8331.

In additon to this pay scale, administrators may also earn merit pay at the recomendation of the superintendant and approval of the Board of Education if these administrators meet certain goals. A few years ago only one administrator met these goals, yet most years most of them do. Longevity and educational degrees also earn extra bonuses.

The total cost of the contract- assuming all present personnel keep their same positions in three years and attain the fourth step in the contract, will be $268,273 $89770 more than today. That is an increase of about 22% 6.5% spread over three years.

For additional information, statistics from the National Bureau of Labor statistics: http://www.bls.gov/oes/2008/may/oes119032.htm#st

Wolcott Public Schools

August 5, 2009

Babcock Tells O’Brien Not To Criticize Leaders

Pages 8 and 9 of July’s issue of the Wolcott Community News has three letters pertaining to the library, and another three involving or written by George Babcock. While the responses to the library stem from anonymous letters in June’s edition, the articles surrounding Democratic Mayoral candidate George Babcock are quite interesting.

First, Steve Hicock gives his opinion on Babcock’s softball coaching style. Below this, the five members of the Farmingbury Hills Golf Course Commission respond to rumors Babcock published as an advertisement on June’s edition. In response, Chairman Robert Larson, et all… writes that the five man bipartisian commission has done its job in being fiscally wise and “has been headed by both Democrats and Republicans. The Commission follows the Town Charter in reporting to the Mayor and Town Council and they have worked with Babcock himself when he was Council Chairman.”

To Babcock’s criticisisms that the Commission does not have an immediate use for land adjacent to the course approved by voters a few years ago, Larson responds:

“NOT TRUE! The Commission would be more than happy to move this project along. However we are very much aware of the current economic conditions facing this town and the country. We have not come before the Mayor and Board of Finance with any proposal until we feel that the economic climate has improved sufficiently to warrant the expense of this project.”

In the lower right corner of page 8 is a letter by George Babcock towards Town Councilman Chris O’Brien. “Mr. O’Brien shows his lack of knowledge and experience in attacking Mr. Pape, Mrs. Najarian and Mr. Gugliotti of the Wolcott Board of Education. Combined they have over 50 years of experience on the Board. His continued request of the Board to ask the teachers for a pay freeze further verifies his lack of knowledge in this area.” – Wolcott Community News, page 8; July 2009.

Let me provide some context: First, O’Brien only requested that the BOE request pay freezes from their bargaining units to match the pay freezes agreed to by other town employees. He stopped asking when the budget was approved on June 2nd. It was a dead issue after that. Secondly, it should be noted that during the 2008 budget process, Mrs. Najarian herself thanked Mr. O’Brien publicly during a Council meeting for the questions and extra research he did at the time.

Throughout his letter, Babcock praises the Education Department with profusely adoring adjectives on every other line:

“Kudos … absolutely fantastic… admirable… marvelous… remarkable…”

He then describes Councilman O’Brien’s efforts to keep the mill rate down and prevent 8.6 teachers from losing their jobs:

“baffling… lack of knowledge… absurd remark… politic(al)”

While Mr. Babcock noted the disagreement between Mr. O’Brien and three members of the Board of Education after O’Brien wrote an e-mail suggesting ways to make the budget leaner during the economic downturn, Babcock’s criticism is misplaced. Mr. Babcock’s comments are entirely selective where he ignored remarks by O’Brien and other Councilman when they praised the Board of Education for reducing a potential $1.1 million increase in their budget to a $191,000 increase. He neglected to mention that O’Brien and the Council unanimously approved the Education Department’s budget.

It’s curious though that after the Board got exactly the monetary allocation they requested, they then directed the Board of Education’s attorney to continue the political debate by demanding O’Brien remove a copy of his e-mail from his Facebook account. They threatened O’Brien with a lawsuit for suggesting ways to reduce the budget and for repeating Board members’ opinions. That lawsuit was threatened by using YOUR tax dollars.

Before writing his letter, Mr. Babcock could have pointed out to these members that taking this action was a gross violation of Wolcott’s Code of Ethics. In early August, all candidates for office are required to sign a statement that they have read Town Ordinance #91, the Code of Ethics. Apparently Babcock skipped Section 4. Sections B and C of that section read:

Section 4 – Gifts and Favors
(B) Use of Town Property

No Public Official or Public Employee shall request or permit the use of town-owned vehicles, equipment, materials or property for personal convenience or profit, except when such services are availaable to the public generally or are provided as municipal policy for the use of such Public Official or Public Employee in the conduct of official business.

(C) All Citizens To be Treated Equal No Public Official or Public Employee shall grant any special consideration, treatment, or advantage to any citizen beyond that which is available to every other citizen.

A town funded lawyer should be treated the same as a taxpayer bought dump truck, leased police cruiser, fax machine, open land, or other resource. You wouldn’t as the tax collector to do your income taxes on town time, right? These items cannot be used for presonal business, and certainly not to improve one’s political status.

Mr. O’Brien engaged in political speech, attempted to convey information and guide a public discussion. The members of the BOE that Babcock mentions accused O’Brien of defamation of their character by misquoting them. You can only defame an individual person, not an entire Board of Education. Similarly, a citizen cannot defame a town, Congress, the state legislature, or any other governmental body. If we were unable to criticize our government or elected leaders, our free speech rights would be severely repressed. It is no wonder that some in town have expressed fear of backlash if they criticize certain leaders in town.

Only through criticism and constructive debate can our sytem of government become more responsive and efficient. Yes, there should be fairness in making sure we accurately portray someone else’s opinion. This is why I apologized to Anthony Gugliotti for quoting him through hearsay. I also made a good-faith effort to correct James Pape’s quote to its exact wording even though he didn’t change the meaning. Hopefully with time Pat Najarian and I can work things out. But, I take exception to Babcock’s assertion that I shouldn’t “attack” elected officials because “(c)ombined they have over 50 years of experience”. Those members had reasons why they held their opinions. Their reasons were well thought and I respected them even though I disagreed. But, God help us if an elected leader is never questioned, particularly because they have served so long!

I wish Mr. Babcock luck for his upcoming mayoral campaign. I hope he will focus his efforts on the future of Wolcott, instead of digging up issues from months ago. If he is elected mayor, I hope he will be more forthcoming in promoting good and honest debate and being respectful to those who disagree. If he needs assistance or information I can give to him, I will assist him just as I would any other resident. Hopefully lawyers and misuse of town resources will not occur as had in this instance when I aired my questions. Sometimes giving the full truth is more helpful than hearing just one side of an issue. We can agree to disagree, and then know that we are not shutting out potentially better ideas that we might all embrace. And always looking forward, we will work for the future of the Town and citizens of Wolcott.

Source: Wolcott Community News, July 2009 edition; Published by Wolcott Community News LLC

June 3, 2009

Wolcott Republicans Pass No Tax Increase

There will be no tax increase in Wolcott this year. In fact, both the Board of Education and the Town budgets emerged virtually unscathed after a meeting filled with political fireworks. While last year’s hearing drew over 100 parents with many of them speaking before the Council began deliberations, no parent or member of the public spoke this year. While more attended than usual, there were still a few empty seats.

The budget meeting began with a Democratic proposal to reduce over $73,000 from the Mayor’s budget. This drew instant fire from Chairman Mark Wagner who questioned why such a large proposal covering 9 departments and 20 different line items wasn’t present sooner. Wagner argued that last week’s workshop brought a perceived agreement on the budget. David Gentile countered that there was no agreement. Mayor Dunn spoke against the proposal, stating that it would dramatically affect town services. “I agree with your opening statement, but find it hard to believe you went line-by-line of both budgets,” noting how the Board of Education budget was untouched by the Democratic proposal. The BoE budget makes up approximately two-thirds of the town budget.

Republican Chris O’Brien called the proposal ‘overreaching.’ “Your proposal reduces four line items for fuel -we don’t know where fuel prices will end up – already the price has gone up 50 cents over the past month.” He went on to contest most of their line items. Mike Santagotta defended the proposal by noting it will provide a tax decrease. “Approving the budget as it is will open the town up to a (funding) deficit- do you want that?” he asked. The Democratic proposal would have decreased taxes by 0.01 mills by figuring a 98.33% current tax and $750,000 back tax collection rate.

O’Brien noted that in past years mayors have taken money from the town’s rainy day fund as part of their budget proposals. According to the Town Charter, the Mayor must recomend a sum of money to be used from the reserve fund. The Council cannot do this on their own. The Mayor did not propose using any of the reserve fund this year. “If necessary, we can take money from the reserve fund to make up a deficit if there is one at the end of the fiscal year. Its taxpayer money too, and (a deficit) is what it’s supposed to be used for,” suggested O’Brien. Unaffiliated Councilman Mike Bokon joined Republicans in defeating the Democrats’ proposal 5-4.

Republicans first moved to vote to approve the budgets without any changes. But this vote also failed 5-4 after O’Brien voted against his party’s proposal.

“I wanted a $4425 adjustment to the Local Emergency Planning Commission allocation. I don’t believe the LEPC Commissioner justified his budget and some of his expenditures are questionable, including paying himself to write a standard report in addition to his annual stipend.” said O’Brien after the meeting. Democrats included this adjustment in their proposal.

Republicans held a caucus where an $1800 reduction to LEPC was proposed to satisfy O’Brien. They proposed increasing the back property tax collection rate, and kept the present 98.5% tax collection rate. Democrats argued that this collection rate is unrealistic in a difficult economic year. The budget was then passed 5-4. Democrats voted against the final mill rate which passed. The mill rate is 22.69 and tax bills will be sent out within two weeks. This is the same mill rate as this past year. A mill is assesed for every $1,000 of assessed personal property.