Many people may remember back in April and May when I wrote several posts that were highly critical of then Mayor O’Brien’s proposed budget. In one of my posts I outlined a number of revenue projects that I felt were beyond belief, no matter how optimistic you wished to be about our city and our economy. This week I am alarmed, but not surprised, that Acting Finance Director, Becky Salerni, had the exact same concerns and raised them to O’Brien in April of this year. Those concerns were completely ignored.
In an email dated April 5, 2013, Salerni called out Mayor O’Brien on a number of bogus revenue projections that she felt were unrealistic. This was not a short list, you can download the scan of the original email here (or an easier to read version of the document here). There were over 20 items that were questioned in this email, many of them the same exact issues I pointed out back in May. These projections, such as single handedly increasing the Rock Cat’s rent, doubling parking revenues, conveyance tax projections, and many others, total over $30 million in over-inflated revenues. That means that Mayor O’Brien’s budget, which he repeatedly called “balanced” is anything but. » Read more..
The Mayor of New Britain has announced a hiring freeze as she tries to get a handle on the city finances. She said that this was needed to control the “fiscal bleeding” and said the freeze is essential “to ensure our government is functional and that we can pay people to work for this city.” In an article in the Hartford Courant she went further stating, “It is clear that the city’s finances are in rough shape, due in large part to the excess spending and inflated revenue projections in the current budget. Until we learn the full and exact magnitude of our fiscal situation, the only responsible thing to do is to stop the bleeding.”
Over the next few days the CPOA will be issuing a statement on the current fiscal state of the City of New Britain, as well as reiterating our views on the current year’s budget. As the city moves forward and the Mayor is called upon to make harsh decisions it is important that taxpayers stand up for what is truly important. We need to know that we are getting the best value on our tax dollar possible.
It isn’t enough to state the taxes need to be low. Taxes certainly should be as low as possible. But beyond that, the city must provide the services it does provide in the most cost effective manner possible. Tax payers would rather see $2.00 spent wisely and effectively than $1.00 wasted and spend frivolously. Let us know the true cost of government so we can have an honest discussion about what services we need and what we can do without.
Mayor Stewart has a very hard job ahead of her if the budget at all matches my predictions. However, if she maintains her campaign promise to operate openly, honestly and puts the facts on the table without any magic numbers or chicanery it will be a breath of fresh air. This will be a first test of her resolve and her integrity and I sincerely hope for the future of the city that she passes with flying colors.
This past election was rather impressive. Former Mayor O’Brien was defeated by a sound margin as Erin Stewart became the 40th Mayor of New Britain with an over 1000 vote lead. In other races the Republican Slate won 5 seats on the Common Council and there is still a legal battle taking place over two of the final seats.
Several of the Aldermen who attended the CPOA Debate were elected, or re-elected, including Aldermen Trueworthy, Pabon, DeFronzo, Naples and Salerno. Alderman Carlozzi currently holds one of the contested seats under legal question. Aldermen candidates Baron, Polkowski, and Cannatta were not successful in their bid for election, but ran very impressive campaigns regardless.
We want to take this time, which should have been done far earlier, to thank the 9 candidates and over 40 voters who turned out for our first ever debate. We look forward to providing more opportunities for the public to be involved with the CPOA in the future.
This Sunday at 3PM the CPOA will be holding an aldermanic debate in the community room of the New Britain Police Department on Chestnut Street. You can RSVP via our Facebook event by clicking here.
The debate will feature five aldermanic candidates from each slate who will debate an wide range of questions dealing with property owners rights, government transparency, and budget practices. This event will be moderated by award winning journalist and former president of the National Association of Hispanic Journalists, Diane Alverio of CTLatinoNews.com.
From the Democratic Slate:
Carlo Carlozzi Jr.
From the Republican Slate:
The event is free to the public and free parking is available on the weekend in the garage next to the police station.
Tonight the Connecticut Property Owners Alliances (CTPOA) will be hosting a meeting of rental property owners at the Whinstone Tavern at 7:00PM. They plan on discussing the damaging policies of the current administration and the wide reaching effects it will have both on rental property owners and renters alike.
If you own a rental property or have been concerned about the housing policies implemented under the current administration, then you may wish to attend.
Last night the Mayor spun a lie so large my jaw dropped to the floor. He claimed that New Britain ended the 2012-2013 fiscal year with a $2.4 million surplus. A surplus? Apparently the Mayor is hoping voters have extremely short memories, because this is the same administration who has been crying “deficit!” since they took office.
Last night, in a move that is baffling, the Planning and Zoning Committee referred the sale of the Hatch Building, located on Washington Street back to the Common Council with a neutral recommendation. Who is the building being sold to and for how much? That is what is baffling. Before referring the sale back to the Common Council the resolution was amended so that both the purchaser and purchase price were blank.
For Sale for ???
How could a planning and zoning committee refer any sale agreement back to the Common Council with anything but an unfavorable recommendation when the purchase price is unknown? Especially when there have been groups right here in New Britain that have expressed a desire in purchasing that property.
By leaving the purchase price blank, if passed by the Common Council, it would allow the Mayor to virtually give the property away to anyone he desired with no oversight from the Common Council.
History of the Hatch
The Hatch building is an extremely run down building. Simply selling it to whomever is not a good idea for the city. It is going to take a good deal of investment to make sure that the building can renovated and restored. When the Historical Society of New Britain indicated they had an interest in the property they put together an extremely detailed proposal outlining the benefits the property would bring to the city as a historical center.
Is there some third party that has indicated a desire in owning the Hatch? If so, they should come before the planning and zoning committee and lay out their detailed proposal for the site. We should not simply be looking to offload the building to someone looking to make a quick buck, neither should we be giving this historical icon away to any organization.
Building for a Better New Britain
The Hatch building is in the center of downtown New Britain. Why is it that the council is looking to simply pass the building off to an unnamed party without proper oversight and public input? We have the chance to help grow the image of New Britain and to improve the quality of downtown, but only if we fill our downtown with quality destinations that will contribute to the very fabric of our community.
I hope that the Common Council does not simply allow this “blank check” to be handed to the Mayor. The taxpayers and the citizens of New Britain deserve more out of our leaders.
Part of my goal as President of the CPOA is to break down complicated issues so that everyone can understand them. It took me a good bit of time to become familiar with things like municipal bonding, budget processes, and so on. These are not always “easy” things to learn.
The mill rate, for example, tends to be very confusing to people. Most people don’t really understand what it is or how it works.
I have written other posts on the mill rate, but I decided to try something different. I have distilled the mill rate down into a simple 4 minute video that I think everyone should watch. (You can view the video here.)
This is the first of what I hope to make a series of videos about. So please, let me know if you like it and what other topics you’d like to learn more about. If you think the video is worth watching please share it with all your friends.
This past Monday the Common Council of New Britain approved millions in bonding for textbooks and technology. While I recognize the need for educational equipment such as textbooks and technology the idea of bonding for these things is ridiculous. What is even more unbelievable is that the Common Council, yet again, is passing these bills during “special sessions” called for by a Mayor’s warrant. Why? Because then the Mayor doesn’t need to allow for public comment and participation.
This is a tactic they have been employing for months now. Whenever they have an issue that might be controversial they hold a special meeting instead of voting on it at the next regular meeting of the Common Council. These bonds won’t be sold for months, so there was no legitimate reason the Council had to vote this Monday rather than wait for a real meeting.
When O’Brien took office he promised “transparency” but his administration has stood for anything but. He repeatedly refuses to release documents requested under the Freedom of Information Act, he has issued a gag order to the staff of City Hall, he repeatedly calls for last minute meetings, even when there is no need to do so. The only thing transparent about this administration is their disdain for free and open access to government.
In an attempt to move forward as an organization, the CPOA is proud to now offer online membership registration. Membership is open to any and all who own real estate property within the city of New Britain. If you have never been a member before I urge you to sign up today, and if you have been a member who has been putting off renewing your membership it is now easier than ever.
Many people wonder why should they join the CPOA. They wonder what the CPOA can do for them. While it is certainly impressive that the CPOA is arguably the oldest tax payer advocacy group in the State, if not the country, that isn’t really a reason to join. So what value does the CPOA bring to your average property owner? » Read more..
The New Britain Citizens’ Property Owners Association is the oldest tax-payer advocacy group in the State of Connecticut, and possibly the Nation. Established in 1924 the group has a long tradition of fighting for the property owning tax payers of New Britain and standing for ideals such as fiscal responsibility, economic growth, property owners’ rights, and good governance.
Copyright Citizens' Property Owners Association, Inc.