Monday, April 11, 2011

4/12 Town Council Meeting - 2011/2012 Budget Adoption

The Town Council is meeting tomorrow night and one of the items on the agenda is adoption of a 2011-2012 Operating Budget. 7:30pm Town Council Chambers.

Last week, the Rep-Am reported that the TC Budget committee decided to reduce the BOE's requested budget by $2.1M or give a $975K increase. This was discussed at the budget workshop meeting last week, I'm told. But it does not come as a surprise to me as we've been told about this number going back to last August. I'll hold off commentary for the time being but while it's unfortunate, at least it's consistent.

The fairly lengthy agenda can be found on the Town's Website

Hopefully, attendance will be more than 17 people.


Anonymous said...

How embarrassing. I watched tonight's meeting from home Once again this council proves they do not represent the people of cheshire. The citizens are damned if they attend and damned if they don't.

Mr Schrumm's dismissive comments were offensive to anyone who had an opinion different than this own. does he really expect us to believe that more than 200 people (the number of people who spoke in favor of increasing the education budget last year in public) pulled him over in stop and shop to discuss the budget last year and tell him to lower taxes? Really?? I fin that really hard to believe.

Mr. Slocum's comments, which I hope he intended to be funny, were dismissive and insulting. claiming residents were to exhausted from a televised basketball game to attend last Tuesday was especially insulting after the comments made by many of the individuals who spoke tonight explaining that people are sick of talking to deaf ears. Once again he wasn't listening. His comment about being glad his own children were longer in the system was also very telling. Who does he think he is fooling?

I want to appalaud Dr. Florio for giving the council the harsh truth concerning their actions. Also Gerry did a great job making the reality of this council's negligence and ineptitude obvious.

Also where was the shared sacrifiice on the part of the council. They offered nothing. They expect the teachers to be a part of a one sided sacrifice. What happens if the teachers say no? Apparently they don't care and more teachers will be lost and class sizes will rise ever hire.

November can't come soon enough!

Anonymous said...

I watched the meeting also and surprised some people said they didn't know any details of what the council might do with the budget. As Tony mentions, it's been clear going back to August that $975K was what was being considered to increase the boe's budget by.
I think the public may have gotten more involved if the boe made a reduction when they passed the budget over to the TC. They could have made the reduction and made an outline of possible areas that might be affected. That would have gotten the attention of the public because as soon as you mention things like sports, band or AP classes they're emailing and gathering all parents together to attend meetings.
That's what they're going to do when the boe decides how to allocate the money in the budget.

Tony Perugini said...

"I think the public may have gotten more involved if the boe made a reduction when they passed the budget over to the TC. They could have made the reduction and made an outline of possible areas that might be affected. "

That was delivered in Dr. Florio's opening speech on budget back in January. The BOE and the BOE Finance committee held a series of budget workshops between Feb - April to research school closing(s), extra-curricular, increasing class sizes, etc. It was well publicized in the Rep-Am, Record Journal, New Haven Register and Cheshire Patch as well as the Herald.

At each of the BOE business meetings, we rehashed what was discussed at the BOE finance workshops. I talked about it here.

We also made a video and played it on Public access for the last two months. The video discussed what the BOE was/is doing to prepare for a massive reduction to the proposed budget.

To say that the budget wasn't well publicized, is simply not true. I believe it's a combination of frustration, wishful thinking and crying wolf syndrome. Last year, Chapman-Gate drew out many folks and, to some, it appeared to be nothing more than crying wolf. That, in and of itself, may have de-sensitized some folks.

I also believe many in town are hoping that the teacher's union will pass a concession package that alleviates some of the budget constraints.

With the budget increase passed last night ($975K) and without a concession package in hand as of right now, all of the worst-case scenario's we've researched in play.

Even with a concession package, it won't be enough to cover the shortfall and as was eluded by many at last night's TC meeting, the BOE medical trust fund will, for the first time, most likely be drawn down (lightly/not funded) to make up for some of the shortfall.

I'll post the issues with raiding the MTF soon.

Anonymous said...

The TC is damned if they do and damned if they don't. If you go to the meeting and say that you want more spent on education and the TC doesn't, you feel they didn't listen to you. If you go to the meeting and say that you want taxes lowered and they don't, then you feel they didn't listen to you. It's the old "you can please some of the people some of the time, but you can't please all of the people all of the time". The TC must try to do what they feel is the best for the greatest number of Cheshire residents.

Anonymous said...

Every year the people who want more funding for the BOE outnumber the "don't raise my taxes" crowd at the TC meeting by 50 to 1. This year nobody showed up because they were tired of wasting their breath.
This TC reminds me of the movie "It's a Wonderful Life", we have 6 Mr. Potters sitting up there with all their pomposity. They say the towns people "can't afford to pay more taxes", when in reality they had no intention of funding the schools appropriately anyway. Now they come up with another reason not to use some of the RDF, "we MIGHT not receive our full share of state funding". It's all a bunch of bullcrap. Vote them out!

Anonymous said...

Going to the TC meetings was a collosal waste of time. They had their mind made up 2 years ago. All their meetings and workshops were a sham. So they passed a tax increase of $86 per AVERAGE household. Residents with smaller properties will pay <$1 more per week, residents with larger properties will pay <$1 per day, and WE can't afford that or even twice that? I do feel bad for people who have lost their jobs (including the teachers who were laid off), but I don't believe for a second that this TC is all that concerned about them. It's all some political game to them. They figured out what the bare minimum was to just maintain the school buidings and buses and that's what they have given the BOE. To heck with quality education. They don't see the value to the town that education provides. We are all being penalized by their tunnel vision.

Anonymous said...

What the TC calls an "increase" in BOE funding does not even keep up with the increased non-salary expenses they have. Using some of the RDF this year could pay for those expenses and not impact taxes, but NO, they have their political agenda. They don't care if they misuse our tax money. Time for them to be retired.

Anonymous said...

I think the TC is very concerned with residents in this town who cannot afford the tax increases. We have a total town budget of almost 98M and the BOE is over 60% of that budget, where does that equate to not spending enough on education. The BOE like every other part of the town budget must find a way to do more with less. The biggest elephant in the room is the teachers contract lets see how they come to the plate to help out. Time will tell. As far as the pro education funding people outnumbering the tax saving people at budget hearings that is disputable. Granted the TC was packed last year but when you take out teachers who don't even live in town and students who are asked to attend the meetings by their teachers and coaches the actual number of pro taxes vs less taxes is about the same. This year the teachers didn't come out and they didn't rally the troops to come out either (maybe they realized that their support was not there).

Anonymous said...

Anon 10:14
The reality is that the BOE chairman's lack of leadership showed. He took the easy road and passed the buck to the TC and then chastised them. This was done knowing full well that the BOE proposed budget was going to be reduced. They had many months to prepare a workable budget for the TC. This will again be shown in the Nov 2011 elections. The TC showed great restraint.
Yes, November can't come soon enough.

Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Tony Perugini said...

"They had many months to prepare a workable budget for the TC."

Not true. We presented the most workable budget we could. Looking back, the only thing I would've done differently, is reduced the MTF by about $800,000. But the medical claims increased was revised down by our provider in March after the budget was submitted. As I said elsewhere, I agree with the TM's reduction in this regard.

Beyond that, and even after we spent the last 3 months studying areas of reduction, I still believe the most responsibile (for everyone involved) budget was sent forth by the BOE.

I'm not afraid to make or support reductions. However, I never trust a politician that can't look me in the eye and explain to me what the reduction is and how it will impact/benefit us. In the that regard, if I can't look you in the eye and explain to you what my reduction will or will not do, you should raise the b.s. flag.

I don't expect everyone to read every single detail I post here on this blog. But in the case of this budget, I spent a considerable amount of time detailing this budget, it's implications, opportunities for reduction, restrictions, etc.

Whether you believe what I post here or not, is up to you. I post the facts. The fact is that we cannot eliminate 40 teaching positions in this budget without devastating the school district. 40 is about what's need to cover $2M.

The fact is while enrollment is dropping, it's dropping slowly, very slowy. We lost 36 students this school year. I also detailed that in this blog. But I understand it's all about the headlines. My advice is to look beyond the headlines.

I also spent a considerable amount of time over the last 3 months leading the finance committee to consider worst-case options even though most on the BOE know full-well they aren't feasible options this coming school year. But may be options for 2012-2013.

In that regard, you now have a BOE that's been fully briefed on the possibile areas of reduction for the 2012-2013 budget. While none of the options are palatable (school closure(s), redistricting, elimination of activities) they will have to be considered as enrollment should drop to the point of at least considering redistricting in 2012-2013.

We also start off with the 2012-2013 budget with -$540,000 in federal teacher stimulus money, contract increases (incl transportation) and what I forsee as a dangerously low medical trust fund balance. That's just the tip of the iceberg.

A year from now, we should be asking ourselves if the $975K increase was penny-wise/pound-foolish or brilliant. Looks great for election year but let's hope it pays dividends because misdirection can be castrophic for us as taxpayers.