Board of Finance – Public Audience November20, 2012
I am very disappointed with the distribution of a Finance
Board agenda that is disingenuous since Public Audience does not reflect that
this is a preliminary Public Hearing on the 2013-2014 budgets. This meeting has
not been publicized which gives this board cover that the Simsbury taxpayers
are satisfied with the proposed budgets. This is not true. This board was elected to represent the
Simsbury residents and should encourage input from the Simsbury taxpayers.
This year is going to be extremely challenging for the
budget process with many unknowns. The State is bleeding in red ink with
revenues diminished and expenditures out of control. The money that we have become accustomed from the State will probably be diminished. Our investment income has also diminished with unrealistic assumptions on returns. With revaluation this year the assessor is projecting real estate to reduce 15%, commercial real estate 20 % and vehicles and personal property remaining the same.
However, with The Hartford insurance Company selling off their assists their taxes will be reduced greatly. With this outlook I would urge the Board of Finance to have a “0” increase in the budgets. The CNR budget has maxed out and should not be used as the graveyard for additional off budget expenditures. The CNR budget should have line items as required for Municipal expenditures, not bottom line expenditures.
This year there was too much latitude given to the First Selectman on line items in the CNR budget. The General Fund should only be used for catastrophic incidents not short falls. The Board of Finance should have an accounting of in kind expenditures for the Performing Arts and other organizations using staff for support services and charge them for services rendered. The Board of Finance should request an inventory of all fixed assists with a maintenance and cost schedule for each building.
The 6 year Capital program should be revisited with reductions in long-term indebtedness. We can no longer afford to enhance Ethel Walker with taxpayer debt. $1,077,730 for a Center Area Charrette Infrastructure should be eliminated. We already spent thousands of dollars for the ice rink. The $525,000 should be eliminated. These projects should beremoved from the expenditures by the Board of Finance. It is time that the Board of Finance acts responsibly and removes all non-essential items for long-term expenditures from the 6 year Capital improvement program before it goes to Referendum.
With diminished enrollment at the schools and the projection of less revenue from the State, the Board of Education should reduce overhead costs by reducing administrative staff. The Board of Education budget should also come in with a “0” increase. The transportation and schooling of children enrolling in Magnet and Charter Schools should be levied on the parents of the students enrolling in these schools. The taxpayers don’t pay for students enrolled in St. Mary’s School, Master School, Westminster School and Ethel Walker School, why not the Charter and Magnet schools?
The financial picture for the State and the Federal Government looks bleak. The trickle down financing for projects will not exist. We all have to do with less in this economy. I would urge this board to ask for a zero increase in budgets and reductions in projected Capital expenditures. I am urging the Board of Finance not to “kick the can down the road” and assume their fiduciary responsibility and reduce the town and education budgets to a “0” increase.