Well it’s a budget bonanza today with the Governor releasing his budget for the state and the finance committee of the Common Council freaking out over the tsunami of parental, student and educator budget ire. I can’t believe that we are here again. Note that the venue has changed for the public hearing on the operating budget, see the end of this post.
In short the reason why the budget that is largely based on contracts for labor that were approved a couple of years ago is because the Common Council under the leadership of the Republicans have failed to address any revenue creating policy, even if it landed on their car windshields in the form of a beach sticker.
The grand list, in the last couple of years grew at the glacial pace of 0%. Forget the woe is me economy excuse. Our surrounding towns and cities have produced anemic growth! Anemic is, as it turns out, substantially better than zero growth.
A sampling to entertain ourselves:
New Haven‘s 2010 Grand List reflects an increase of $149 million in net assessed value or 2.97 percent over 2009. If the mill rate remains steady at 43.9, the grand list will result in a $6.3 million increase in tax revenue for the City.
Hartford has grown overall for the sixth year in a row. It is up almost 4-percent from last year, coming in at $3,743,725,946.
Stamford’s Grand list is $24.1 Billion, up a fractional percent. Danbury is at $7 billion, and with a reval affecting the numbers I’m not sure whether that’s up or down.
Norwalk is $12 billion. Westport, which actually declined 12% is at $10 billion.
The full list is over here.
So, if the grand list remains stagnant, yet revenues are supposedly down, and contracts for labor were approved a couple of years ago with increases in them, then who exactly is to blame for yet another year of budget strife? I say, the Common Council, which has done everything counter to what Mayor Moccia has tried to do in un-stalling development projects. So if you are worried about cuts in education, know this, your Common Council that was elected in 2009 has failed you. Not because they are bad people, or that they wanted this outcome. It’s because they don’t understand the implications of their actions. It’s a failure to grasp that Norwalk needs to move forward in securing an economic future based on today’s economy, not the 1980s.
Every political flunkie that utters a word about pensions and unions as their mantra of why we have a budget crisis is wrong and ill suited to solving the problem. They are indicating an unwillingness to engage in cost savings to Norwalk’s taxpayers by actually looking at pension and benefit obligations as a series of risk analysis and long term obligations. They are unwilling to shift expenses to uses fees where appropriate and amortize economic development across policies that will result in increasing the grand list instead of just shifting operating expenses to long term debt.
But I digress.
Back to the budget public hearing:
Thursday, February 17, the Finance Committee of the Common Council will hold a Public Hearing.
The meeting will be held at Norwalk High School at 7:00 pm.
THE PUBLIC CAN SPEAK. Following the Public Hearing, the Finance Committee will vote on the city’s operating budget and the recommended cap.
Tuesday, February 22, the Common Council will set the City Budget Cap. THE PUBLIC CAN SPEAK. The meeting will take place at 8:00 pm.