"The Republican Position for the Town of East Hartford"
The Republican Position for the Town of East Hartford Budget Fiscal Year 2008-2009 Foreword: Each year as the Town Council starts its work to resolve the Mayor's proposed budget, there are always new objectives, wishes, wants, and problems to contend with. But your Republican Council members have one constant in mind. The health, safety and the financial impact that may be imposed on the citizens of East Hartford. As deliberations began it was with the knowledge of a declining economy and upward spiraling costs. Add to that the inevitable increase in our town taxes. The latter is due to the two year phase-in of taxes as a result of the 2006 revaluation of property. The principle source of any Grand List growth came on the backs of the homeowners. Assessed values drove real estate tax bills to a new high. Some values increased by nearly 60%. Now with a dropping real estate market, the value of our home is less as the taxes rise. A statement made by us last year bears repeating. "As the process goes forward, we must not be irresponsible and indulge ourselves by being insensitive to the circumstance and affordability of our residents." Budget 1. Our FY 2008-2009 must not go beyond the bare bone needs to manage our government for that period. 2. The wants, wishes, and nice-to-haves as proposed by the Mayor must be set aside until the economy recovers. 3. It is unconscionable to spend hundreds of thousands of dollars to remodel Town Hall and the Community Center while there are so many "for sale" and "foreclosure" signs because residents can no longer afford their East Hartford homes. 4. A handicapped elevator for access to the Mayor's Office is not a necessity at this time; it is a nicety for the Mayor. There is handicapped access to the Town Hall second floor where the Mayor can join them in the Conference Room. 5. The number of requested trucks of various sizes and configurations is indicative of poor past management. Unit cost management of our fleets must be initiated. 6. Minority Council members ask that their fellow Councillors join them in returning 5% of their annual salary to the Town. 7. The Mayor is asked to offer a similar contribution of her salary. 8. After more than two years as Mayor, the only visible tax yielding entity on Rentschler Field is Cabela's which was initiated during the prior administration. Minority Position 1 FY 2008-2009 9. For the Fire Department to sustain its current level of service and the seemingly ever increasing new responsibilities, a periodic infusion of new personnel is required. The request for four new Firefighters is supported. Future: 1. In order to soothe the fears of many of our citizens, the so called "wannabe" gang members as defined by the Chief of Police, must be dispersed before they reach the level of "gang" as defined by him. 2. The reinstatement of the Police Explorers program is seen as a current aid to the Police Department and a training ground for future recruitment. 3. A similar program for Fire Department Explorers is seen as a positive for future recruitment also. 4. Our new Safety Complex continues to have short comings in some areas. A comprehensive study and recording of all outstanding needs is necessary to end the piecemeal fixes. 5. More and more the need for Charter Revision becomes evident. Let this not be delayed further. Conclusion: The negative and positive criticisms are well intentioned. They are intended to focus on the absolute needs for the next fiscal year. Judgments are based on existing conditions of today. With only three plus months before the new year is upon us, we sincerely wish they could have a positive change, but the reality says otherwise. The Town Council will fulfill its responsibilities and set the budget that is best in their judgment. Is it likely there will be unanimity? Most unlikely! There will be some areas that both sides of the Council will concur on, others that they will not. Perhaps both sides may be swayed by inputs from the Public Hearing. There is also the possibility that it will be challenged. If so, we must await the outcome. Hopefully the Council Budget set on March 1lth will stand. Donald H. Pitkin, Minority Leader Patricia Harmon Eric Thompson Minority Position