New Party Bosses…State Budget Has More School Aid…C.P.O.A. Is MIA On Taxes….

New Party Bosses

State Party Treasurer Emma Pierce of New Britain and former Berlin Mayor Adam  Salina were elected to the Democratic State Central Committee on May 1st. State Convention delegates met in Berlin to kick off a month of nominating conventions.

State Party Treasurer Emma Pierce of New Britain and former Berlin Mayor Adam Salina were elected to the Democratic State Central Committee on May 1st. State Convention delegates met in Berlin to kick off a month of nominating conventions. New Britain Democrats congratulate Emma and Adam who will serve on the 72-member Central Committee. (Photo by F. Gerratana)

State Budget: General Assembly Approves  $48M Increase In School Aid, Keno Gambling Is Repealed

The Legislature approved a state budget for the next fiscal year late Saturday, May 3rd, that includes a $48 million increase in state aid to school districts, according to The  Connecticut Mirror.

“The increase allows the state to provide the level of support dictated by the much-touted education-funding formula that directs money to high-need towns based on poverty, student need and ability to raise revenue locally. The budget still provides funding for three new state charter schools to open for next school year, but reduces scheduled funding increases by $500,000,”  the Mirror reported.

In the current fiscal year New Britain receives $82 million in school aid under the state-based formula in Governor Malloy’s budget. State aid amounts were substantially increased for schools last year.  New Britain’s lawmakers in a letter last week have advised the Stewart administration that the city could lose out on state aid to pay for schools if the Mayor moves ahead to reduce school allocations by $4 million from current levels. The Mayor is calling for a reduction in school funding by that amount.

The state budget also moves forward Malloy’s proposal to offer 1,020 more 3- and 4-year old children from low-income families a spot in preschool next year at a reduced amount. Not funded was a Democratic proposal to increase the number of pre-kindergarten spots in public schools.  Keno gambling, opposed by many progressive Democrats and opponents of expanded gambling in communities, has finally been repealed in the revised state budget and will not be a revenue option in the near future.

The Legislature will wrap up its 2014 session on Wednesday, May 7th.

From NB Politicus

Whatever Happened To the CPOA? Taxpayer Group Goes Silent And Partisan

 Whenever even a rumor of a property tax increase came out of City Hall over the last generation you could count on one group of citizens to make noise and try to mobilize residents against any change in the mill rate.
The New Britain Citizens’ Property Owners Association (CPOA) had a reputation as a group of outspoken conservatives who never saw a tax rate or tax hike they liked. It didn’t matter who held office or what the revenue needs were for the city in a particular year. CPOA leaders rose up as citizen gadflies to challenge taxes and spending. 

Flashback to former six-term Mayor William “Billy Mac” McNamara in the 1980s, who upon hearing the group’s complaints once too often, took to referring to the acronym CPOA as the “Communist Party Of America” —  a slap in the face to the right-leaning CPOA membership. In 2014 the prospect of a 4.88 mill rate increase is more than a rumor. City government is looking to cut spending by the millions and is even contemplating a nuclear option of borrowing money from banks to pay for operations. 

Nary a word has been heard from these self-appointed guardians of the public purse about a tax increase and  cutting the “frills” out of local government.  The last update on the CPOA’s website for its members was six months ago. And you can bet there’ll be continued silence about the current Stewart Administration’s spending during a “spending freeze.” 

Wouldn’t a legitimate property taxpayer group be raising questions about: 

– GOP Republican Chair Peter Steele’s $45,000 part-time job in the mayor’s office with nebulous job responsibilities;
– The return of Stewart for Mayor fundraiser Ken Malinowski at $102,000  to municipal development where the misuse of federal funds administered by Malinowski under former Mayor Stewart raised concerns with federal officials and led to Malinowski’s departure two years ago.
– The apparent signing of  the Republican-leaning lobbying firm, Gaffney Bennett & Associates, by Mayor Stewart at $48,000 for as yet to be announced consulting work. If correct, this inexplicable expense comes after the New Britain legislative delegation has reached out and met with the Mayor more than once to address city business in Hartford.

Such spending  would normally be juicy stuff for  the “oldest tax-payer advocacy group in the State of Connecticut” (founded in 1924) committed to  “a long tradition of fighting for the property owning tax payers of New Britain.”   

Over the last decade, however,  the CPOA clearly lost its mojo and independence.  Through eight years of Tim Stewart ‘s mayoralty, no dents were ever made in city spending. Ominously, the elder Stewart kept counting fictitious sales of development land and ignoring pension obligations as a Democratic Common Council (made weaker by charter change) went along.  The CPOA ignored these financial mortal sins but continued to love Tim Stewart for his effectiveness at keeping dollars for education to a minimum.    

Stewart administration apologists, including those in the CPOA leadership, continue to pin all of the blame for the city’s deep fiscal hole on inflated revenue projections of the one-term O’Brien administration. As noted by the New Britain City Journal, the New Britain GOP’s mouthpiece:

All of New Britain’s fiscal woes started 24 months ago when Tim O’Brien took office.  Up to that time the prior Stewart Administration  over eight years was the nadir of  fiscal responsibility.”

Not even Mayor Stewart has had the gall to promote this lie, leaving her allies in the CPOA and the yellow journalism of the City Journal  to play the blame game. Stewart’s own forensic audit found much the same as Mayor O’Brien’s audit when he took office.  The city’s fiscal troubles date back more than a decade and were largely created by the former Stewart administration’s one-shot revenues and fiscal gimmicks that were the opposite of fiscal responsibility.

The transformation of the CPOA into a wholly owned subsidiary of the New Britain GOP is a development that creates opportunity. The CPOA, always opposed to adequate school funding and absent from debates  about reducing tax regressivity, won’t be missed by residents in need of tax equity and  fundamental change. It’s taken on too much partisan baggage to be taken seriously.

At the state level House Speaker Brendan Sharkey has taken the first steps toward meaningful property tax reform in years. These reforms include relieving localities of the cost of special education and reducing the burdens of the property tax on homeowners and tenants, particularly in economically distressed cities.

The situation invites a new kind of citizens’ group here that is  independent of either major political party and is  committed to tax fairness, equity in school funding and responsible budgets.

There’s no better time to organize “New Britain Citizens For Tax Fairness” than now.

Play Ball

Senator Richard Blumenthal throws out a first ball at the Cal Ripken-Fagan League opening day.

From left Alderman David DeFronzo, State Senator Terry Gerratana and Senator Blumenthal with Fagan League officials. Not in photo is Fagan League President Jim Wyskiewicz, a former city alderman.

At Fagan League Opening Day From left Alderman David DeFronzo, State Senator Terry Gerratana and Senator Blumenthal with Fagan League officials. Not in photo is Fagan League President Jim Wyskiewicz, a former city alderman. (F. Gerratana photos)

 

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THANK YOU

Labor donated. Any costs associated with this message paid for by New Britain Democratic Town Committee, Post Office Box 2112, New Britain CT 06050   John Valengavich, Treasurer. Approved by John McNamara

 

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About nbpoliticus

NB Politicus is a weblog featuring news and commentary on politics, government and community life in New Britain, CT. John McNamara - Editor and Writer
This entry was posted in Blumenthal, DeFronzo, General Assembly, Gerratana, Municipal Budget, State Budget, Weekend Update. Bookmark the permalink.

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