Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Mayor's Budget Address to Town Council

As best as I can reconstruct, this is what the Mayor said on the night that she delivered her proposed Budget to the Town Council:

"Good Evening Ladies and Gentlemen, Town Council, Board of Finance members, and members of the press,

Tonight, we are here to start the discussion for the 2010 thru 2011 budget year for the Town of New Milford, CT. Unlike years previous, the State of Connecticut has yet to complete its budget for 2009 – 2010; we are ½ way through our present Budget year and this means that we can only guess at how and when state reimbursements and payments will be received for this year, making next years predictions even more difficult than usual.

Tonight, I am making recommendations but also I am looking for your input in maintaining and operating our Community. As usual, some will argue we are spending too much while others will lament we are spending too little. This is a balancing act we go through each year to make sure that the needs of our Community are met.

Over the next two weeks, we will invite Department Heads and Staff to help review and explain their budget requests in great detail so that we and the public know where their hard earned tax dollars are being spent. This process and time line is dictated by Charter and when the Town of New Milford next revises the Charter, I would recommend pushing the start dates out 4 – 6 weeks to allow time for more concrete information to be collected on the revenue side of the budget and I would also recommend that the Mayor be authorized to ask our Board of Education Department to take another look at their request and, if necessary, make adjustments like all other Town Departments before presenting to the Town Council and Board of Finance.

While all of the departments have diligently implemented savings wherever possible, and we all appreciate those efforts, I am recommending a reduction to both the Town requests and the Board of Education request.

I am recommending a reduction of $1,910,866 to the town side requests; and an $800,000 reduction to the BOE request, bringing forth a total of $91,764,131 as the number we start working with from this point on.

Included in that number are not only the Education and Town Department requests but all the Community debt payments in the amount of $6,709,590 for schools, roads, sewer and any bonded infrastructure improvements.

Furthermore, there are many other services included in this budget request.

There is $921,829 for the operations and maintenance of equipment for our very valuable fire departments, ambulance and our medic services.

We’ve included the Children’s Center for $79,500 and the VNA for $76,000; the Housatonic Transit Authority (Hart Bus) for $54,912 which provides public transportation options for our residents, along with a whole host of boards and commissions which help contribute to the well rounded community we enjoy here in New Milford.

Again, this year I am not recommending any money come from the undesignated account and I do expect a favorable audit outcome; however, we are still waiting for the printed version.

I look forward to working with all of your over the next few weeks in preparing the best possible Budget for the people of the Town of New Milford and if you have any questions or need more information, please do not hesitate to call. Thank you."

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Weinberg Sworn In As New Member of BOE

Let me see if I can sum this up.

Wanting to run for the BOE, Democrat Rodney Weinberg tried many times to reach Democratic Party Chair John Lillis but never received a response.

Mr. Weinberg expressed his interest to the Mayor. Council Member(s) requested that his name be put on the Agenda as a nominee.

Lillis fails to come forward with a nominee even after having a Committee Meeting and knowing that its Membership supported Dr. Stillman. “Protocol” – very important to the Dems when they want it to be – calls for the Chair to give a letter to the Mayor’s Office. That didn’t happen.

Lillis is the only speaker in public participation; attendees Bob Coppola and David Lawson choose not to speak. One would think that they’d speak in support of their candidate or Lillis.

The three Council Democrats try to nominate Stillman but can’t get the votes to do so. They try to stall but fail to make a Motion to Table.

Mr. Weinberg is nominated, wins and is sworn in immediately.

What would have happened if Dr. Stillman’s name had been on the Agenda? There weren’t enough votes to elect him, Mr. Weinberg’s name would have come forward and he would have been elected.

End of story.

I take back what I wrote yesterday about Mr. Lillis. Now I know that he is speaking out of both sides of his mouth. Last night, he spoke in support of Dr. Stillman even though he was “rejected” by the voters. John, how come it’s OK to support Stillman (D) after being rejected by the voters but it’s not OK to support Joe Failla (R) for an appointment to a different board from which he was “rejected?”

Saturday, February 6, 2010

BOE Weinberg Appointment Causing Controversy

“Murphy expected to recommend Weinberg for school board” is the headline for Nanci Hutson’s story in today’s News-Times. Here’s her lead: "Mayor Patricia Murphy is expected to recommend Monday night that the Town Council endorse Rodney Weinberg, a fiscally conservative Democrat, to fill the vacant seat on the school board."

Seems simple enough but this is New Milford.

Section 205 of the Charter provides that a vacancy in an elected seat is filled “by the Town Council.” The Mayor’s role is to put a name on the Council’s Agenda. Thus, Nanci is jumping to a conclusion. How does she or anyone know that the Mayor will recommend Mr. Weinberg for the seat? Maybe she will but the more interesting question is why the Democratic Town Committee failed to make a recommendation. After all, it did have a Meeting after it learned of Dr. Diamond’s resignation and could have recommended Dr. Stillman. Further, it wouldn’t surprise me a bit if Mr. Weinberg has been reaching out to the DTC for a while and has had no response because he’s “a fiscally conservative Democrat.”

But wait! Maybe the reason that the DTC didn’t bring Dr. Stillman’s name forward is because of its Chairman’s position that he’s been rejected by the voters. That was Chairman Lillis’ position with regard to Joe Failla, remember? I applaud John for his consistency and integrity.

The larger BOE Budget picture gets more interesting by the moment.

Newly elected “Republican” Member Dan Nichols was conspicuously absent from the BOE Budget vote. With four kids in the system, was this an intentional act or was he really busy that night? Did he ask Chairman Faulenbach to delay the vote until he could attend? Did the Chairman refuse to do so because the vote would have been delayed until after the February 1 effective date of Dr. Diamond’s resignation, thus putting a positive Budget vote at risk? Another possibility is that there were some machinations to ensure that “Republican” Chair Faulenbach wasn’t put in the position of having to break a tie. Wendy is probably twitching over Mr. Weinberg’s potential appointment.

Of course the Dems are whining and complaining about Mr. Weinberg, “a fiscally conservative Democrat.” This guy – a realist – has actually owned a business and had to make payroll every Friday i.e. he knows where the tires meet the road. And OMG! According to Nanci Hutson, Mr. Weinberg “recently objected to the school board’s proposed budget because he did not think it adequately reflected a concern for taxpayers who are on a fixed income or struggling financially.”

We couldn’t do better.