Stewart Budget Raises More Questions Than Answers; Council To Seek Alternatives
A May 12th, 6 p.m. public hearing on New Britain’s municipal budget has been scheduled as elected officials prepare to set a mill rate and fiscal priorities for the year that begins on July 1. The hearing has been moved from the high school to Slade Middle School auditorium.
Mayor Stewart, who has vetoed five of the last seven budgets adopted by the Common Council, has delivered a tax and spending plan that again leaves the heavy lifting to Council Democrats to put the city’s fiscal house in order. The administration’s $216 million plan appears long on the promise of no tax increase, but provides few specifics on where and how cuts in the workforce and programs should be made. It removes an additional $1 million from the public schools – a reduction that will almost certainly be opposed by the Council Democrats.
Council President Mike Trueworthy, speaking at the Thursday’s Democratic Town Committee meeting, shared his concerns about upcoming efforts to minimize layoffs and cuts to essential services. “This is the first time [Mayor Stewart] has handed us a 10 percent reduction without elaborating where those cuts will come from.” According to the Administration’s budget proposal, $11 million must be found in workforce reductions from city departments.
Trueworthy predicted that revising the Stewart budget will be difficult over the next few weeks. “The board of finance did their job. We’d like to assume the Mayor did his job. I can tell you the Mayor didn’t do his job in order for us to do ours.”
The same issues that created a budget impasse last year over education are likely to recur. Added to the mix is Stewart’s call for layoffs in city departments as the only way to hold the mill rate at its current level. Trueworthy said that the Mayor and Finance Department have again illegally shortchanged the schools by not allocating the required minimum to education. This year’s educational cost sharing from the state budget has been level funded. On the revenue side the Mayor’s estimate of $4 million in sales of property is more fiction than fact, according to Trueworthy.
Despite big revenue and spending holes in the Stewart budget and differences over budget priorities, Trueworthy indicated that discussions have started earlier with the Stewart administration on the city budget.
Council Democrats are likely to propose alternatives and to press the Mayor on the specifics of his “workforce reductions” after the May 12th public hearing. Council alternatives may include additional funds for schools, support for a senior property tax relief program and reductions to personnel costs short of the job losses Stewart has said are inevitable.
LWV Presents Forum on Immigrants and Politics Tuesday, 4/26
A forum discussing different immigrant groups and their impact on New Britain politics will be held Tuesday, April 26th, at 7 pm at Trinity on Main 69 Main Street. Sponsored by the New Britain Area League of Women Voters (LWV) the event will include current and former elected officials and will be representative of the city’s rich diversity.
Former State Senator Joe Harper will be the moderator of the forum that will include Attorney Nick DeNigris, Registrar of Voters Butch Dzwonkowski, Ward 4 Alderman Larry Hermanowski, Attorney Jason Pearl, Ray Green, Democratic State Central committeewoman Emma Pierce and State Representative Robert Sanchez (D-25)
O’Brien Committee To Hold Mayoral Fundraising Kickoff Thursday, 4/28
The Tim O’Brien for Mayor Committee will hold a kick-off fundraiser for State Rep. O’Brien who is seeking the Democratic nomination in the municipal election. The event will be held from 6 to 8 pm at Trinity-On-Main, 69 Main Street
The suggested donation is $25.00. For more information email firstname.lastname@example.org.
O’Brien is one of two Democrats who have announced their candidacies for Mayor. Alderman At Large Paul Catanzaro has also announced his candidacy.
A five-member DTC nominations committee is continuing to gather information and review candidacies for all city offices. In July, the town committee will make endorsements for all city offices to be on the ballot on Nov. 8, including mayor, tax collector, treasurer, city council by district (10), city council at large (5), board of education (3), board of assessment appeal (2) and constable (4).
Democrats interested in municipal office or contributing ideas on municipal priorities and policies are encouraged to participate. For candidate information go to https://newbritaindemocrat.org/2011-endorsements/
Reps O’Brien, Sanchez Back EITC; State Tax Credit Means $4 Million In Tax Relief
State Representatives Tim O’Brien (D-24) and Robert Sanchez (D-25) last week voted in the Finance Committee in support of a plan to establish a state Earned Income Tax Credit. Governor Dannel Malloy and Connecticut General Assembly Democrats have agreed to create the state EITC set at 30% of the federal EITC.
The federal EITC was created in 1975 and provides a refund to the working families and individuals of modest means. It is a refund on personal income taxes which reimburses people for sales, property, gas and other taxes that they pay.
“This will mean more than $4 million in tax relief for New Britain residents, much-needed relief for working people who need this money to provide for their families,” said Rep. O’Brien. “This is $4 million that will be brought into our community, spent at our city’s stores and creating jobs for people in our community. This is a very good thing for New Britain.”
Thousands of Connecticut families benefit from the federal EITC. In 2007, the federal EITC helped 183,623 families in Connecticut, an average return of $1,776. In New Britain, over 40,000 families benefited with an average return of over $1,900.
“This will mean close to $2 million for my district, meaning added revenue for my community, with the majority being spent there as well,” said Rep. Sanchez. “Tax relief is what we need in New Britain and $4 million is better than no tax relief at all.”
Connecticut Democrats have been eager to establish a state EITC, but have been blocked for years by a promise of a veto by the former Governor. It was proposed in Governor Malloy’s proposed state budget to reduce tax burdens on low and middle-income families.
Earth Day 1970 was irrefutable evidence that the American people understood the environmental threat and wanted action to resolve it.
Barry Commoner, environmental scientist and author