By Joel Schiavone
Enjoy your summer. This is the lull before the storm. Campaigning begins in earnest for state and local elections which will culminate in November. What will happen after that will be extraordinary. Both New Haven and the
State of Connecticut have passed budgets that everybody knows are millions of dollars out of balance. The City of New Haven passed a budgetwhich does not reflect any changes, any reductions in costs, salaries, or employee lay-offs. Sometime in January all these plus increased taxes will be impacted significantly. The full enormity of these actions will be clarified when we finally learn how large the reductions in the State financial support will be.
Anybody who knows anything about the budget was originally appalled by the lack of any concern over increased expenses, decreasing revenues and the demise of State funding. Several days later the superintendent of schools announced a lay-off of 1200 people. The same people who were originally appalled gave a mighty cheer thinking that there was some recognition that expenses would have to be curbed significantly.
A couple of days later the Mayor stepped in along with the chorus of school board members and said that there were not going to be any lay-offs and that the superintendent had taken this action without consultation and without authorization. And then the Mayor went on to say that all the jobs were being reinstated.
So as it stands now, every job, every employee, every perquisite, every car, every dump truck, every police and fireperson will be paid in full for the next year.
Unfortunately, there is no way that the City can avoid an enormous deficit, having used every single budgetary trick for the past ten years to demonstrate a balanced budget. The independent finance committee indicates that there is a 10 to 15 million dollar deficit and this includes a 10 - 12% increase in everybody’s taxes. One can only hope they have finally run out of excuses, accounting nonsense, secret funds, to let the City finally run out of money so that corrective action can take place.
Any organization that loses its major funding and is forecasting large deficits and doing nothing except raise taxes should be put out of its misery. Only a proper accounting and a bankruptcy will put New Haven back on a sound footing.
But in the meantime for three to five years more potholes, decreased City services, no overtime, no police presence at extra events - a virtual suspension of all City services. They had an opportunity to fix this in this budgetary cycle and every responsible public official failed to try to repair this problem in advance.
What to do? First the impossible.
The majority of alders are members of the City and Yale unions who recuse themselves whenever budgetary issues arise as they have no desire to change anything which impinges on their employment status. There is no money coming from the Federal Government or the State. The City will make another attempt to avoid responsibility by making a second attempt to raise taxes but hopefully by then the citizens will finally rise up and say “No more!”
As far as I can see one cannot unbundle the mess that is the City’s budget given that all the unions, pensioners, employees, and recipients of the City’s largess are responsible for making the necessary reductions. However to give the idea of bankruptcy a fair airing, if anybody out there has any suggestions which could possibly pass muster with City employees and their supporters, please send us your analysis and we’ll be happy to publish it with our commentary in the next issue.
In the meantime, if you are thinking of selling your house be advised to do so – before the floodgates open.