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Finizio Proposes $87.1 Million Budget [VIDEOS]

Request represents 6.4 percent increase, about $4.5 million over this year's budget

Mayor Daryl Finizio said Monday that he believes a budget increase is necessary to stabilize the city’s finances and avoid future deficits.

In his “State of the City” address delivered prior to the City Council meeting, Finizio announced that he is seeking an $87,111,948 budget for the 2013 fiscal year. The proposal would be a 6.4 percent increase over the current year’s budget and increase the mill rate—the tax levied per $1,000 of assessed value—by 4.97 to 30.28 mills.

“In short, we cannot kick the can down the road any further. We have run out of pavement,” said Finizio. “If our budget is not accurately balanced we will face the same crisis next year. With no back-up fund balance, the city could crash. We cannot allow that to happen.”

Last year, City Manager Denise Rose for the 2012 fiscal year. The City Council ultimately approved an .

Budget proposals

Finizio has requested an increase of the budget by three percent, or $1,194,522, to $41,011,927. The Board of Education . Finizio said the more modest increase targets a request for a salary increase for 10 school employees making over $100,000 a year and takes into account opportunities for consolidating city and school financial departments. However, Finizio cautioned councilors against further cuts to the school budget, which has been for several years.

“Numerous school positions and programs have been funded in the past by temporary revenues that are due to expire this year,” he said. “Inflation has also increased basic costs of doing business for our school system. After years of level funding, without some investment, I fear our schools will be unable to meet their mandate to provide a basic quality education to all our children.”

The budget maintains , but does not add any positions for the new fiscal year. Finizio said this year he will forgo the establishment of grant writer and legislative lobbyist positions, jobs he , and keep the staffed at its current level, with 11 vacancies, for the next fiscal year.

The most substantial changes in expenditures increases, which go up by $5,249,378 under the proposal, are:

  • A $1,584,616 increase (21.86 percent) to the budget for the new deputy chief’s position and contractual salary increases
  • The $1,194,522 increase (3 percent) to the New London Public Schools budget
  • A $1,040,748  increase (11.81 percent) to the budget for contracted salary increases and “a reorganization of the department to increase functionality through a clearer chain of command”
  • A $926,822 increase (18.15 percent) increase for debt services to fund public improvement projects bonded for by the city
  • A $711,394 (6.15 percent) increase to the New London Police Department budget for contractual salary increases
  • A $361,866 (9.03 percent) increase to the general government budget for additional staff, contractual salary increases, and the elections budget for the upcoming election

Finizio says some of the increases, including those in the police department and Department of Public Works, are offset by reductions in the use of outside services. He said the taxable grand list has increased 0.29 percent, from $1,560,289,376 to $1,564,831,278.

In January, Finizio and Finance Director Jeff Smith said the city was facing a in the fiscal years between 2011 and 2013. Finizio said on Monday that cost-saving measures will leave the general fund balance at $1 million to $2 million at the end of this fiscal year.

“Contrary to the belief of some, whether motivated by politics or personal animus, this deficit was not created by the current administration, or form of government. We have arrived at this point because of years, if not decades, of systemic budget problems,” said Finizio. “Constant dipping into our fund balance, knowingly underfunding easily predictable line items, and years of refusals to raise taxes, over the contrary recommendations of city managers and the constant inflationary increases in the cost of government, are the causes of our current budget crisis.”

Finizio said the council could save an additional $2 million in the 2013 budget by looking into possible reforms in the fire department, including the potential closing of one of the three fire stations and reducing overtime through negotiations with the firefighters’ union. However, he said he considers the proposed budget has been pared as far as it can go without impacting the current level of services.

“At this time, other than reductions in aide to community based organizations, the administration does not see any area in this budget where significant savings can be realized responsibly,” said Finizio.

In addition, Finizio said he would reserve his right to veto the council’s budget proposal if it relies on “revenue over-inflation or deliberate under-budgeting of legally mandated items,” or use a line item veto if he considers that the council has cut significant items or added unnecessary spending.

Councilor reaction

Councilor Adam Sprecace, who has questioned the figures regarding the projected deficit, said he did not see the budget before Monday evening and will have to look over it closely.

“Based on the comments that have been made over the past couple of months, it’s exactly where I thought it would be,” he said of the requested increase. “It doesn’t mean I agree with it. I still don’t accept the premise that the deficit is as large as the administration says it is.”

Michael Passero, chairman of the council’s Finance Committee, said he thinks the city administration did its best to find savings and will work with the council in crafting the 2013 budget. However, he said he did not expect that the council will approve the increase as requested.

“I think we have a lot of work to do,” said Passero. “I don’t think the taxpayers are going to be able to carry a tax burden of a five mill increase.”

The Finance Committee will begin meeting with department heads on their budget requests starting at 4 p.m. on April 9 at . The committee will also be meeting on April 12, 17, and 18.

“The State of the City”

Finizio’s address also covered matters not pertaining to the budget. He said the Coast Guard has and that city and Coast Guard staff are reviewing options for sites. He said Coast Guard officials are also supportive of keeping services within New London.

"While no expansion is planned in the foreseeable future, the Coast Guard Academy is only planning to expand here in our city,” he said.

Finizio defended his actions regarding the police department, including the . He expressed his hope that the settlements reached with the administrators will be funded, a request which has .

“Management re-staffing in the police department will be completed shortly,” said Finizio. “New policies are already in place. Disciplinary actions taken by the administration also send a clear signal that accountability will be demanded throughout our department.”

Finizio said several new hires represent the diversity of the city. He also alluded to the termination of firefighter recruit Alfred Mayo, an action .

“Diversification is a work in process,” said Finizio. “The people of New London should be assured that qualified minority job applicants will be advanced, but the people of New London should also be assured that we will not lower our standards of excellence for anyone.”

Finizio also praised the work of his staff and other city employees, the receipt of grants for and , and the work of local businesses and citizens’ groups.

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Thomas Cornick April 04, 2012 at 02:25 PM
I don't see how the budget could remain flat having been to the gas pumps and the grocery store. The question that remains is do we have a revenue problem or a spending problem? If we need 20% then half needs to come from spending cuts and the other half from increased taxes. The only way I can see a spending spree would be on infrastructure alone, catching up on drainage issues , roadways, sewerage, and the like are expenses that provide multiple decades of use and make the city more livable. Think about all of the hidden infrastructure you use everyday because that was how your grandparents stimulated the economy during the 1930's with programs like the WPA.
Bob Loblaw April 04, 2012 at 02:36 PM
Alan "Hipster" Green applauds the mayor for everything. His starry-eyed obsequiousness is pretty funny actually.
NewLondonSource April 04, 2012 at 02:59 PM
Dev - as a well-known business owner, you should try and be a bit less partisan and perhaps a bit more objective in your posting; We all know you support The Fiz and that's O-K, but you can't ignore the fact that he is absolutely out of his mind proposing a budget that raises taxes this much.
Ken April 04, 2012 at 03:04 PM
It was not all that long ago that the hot topic was whether NL has a $12-million budget deficit. Now the topic is whether NL must endure a 20% tax increase. In both instances a lot of unproductive panic and shoot-from-the-hip comments ensued. It seems that everyone in NL from the mayor to the city council to the average Joe in the Street needs to be educated about NL's fiscal operations as well as its economy. Everyone should be working from the same set of basic knowledge. The media could be very helpful in that regard. 'Town Hall style' meetings between municipal officials and city residents could also be useful. In particular, the knowledge that needs to be made common place and easily digestible includes: -- 1. The main streams of revenue for NL. What fraction of NL's revenue is generated from within NL as opposed to state or federal grants, aid, and other external disbursements? Of the internally generated revenue, what percentage comes from rental properties, owner-occupied residences, and commercial properties. Do those items cover all types of revenue available to NL (e.g., are fees, etc a significant source of revenue for NL)? -- 2. The budget is available online, but it needs to be brought to everyone's attention, repeatedly. By now, everyone should be aware that 50% of the budget goes to education. The percentages going to the NLPD, public works, etc should be as well known.
Kathleen Mitchell April 04, 2012 at 03:06 PM
citygirl, Since you neglect to identify yourself, I have no idea of how much you have contributed to this city in terms of volunteer work and time but I can assure you of one thing. If I and my "cronies" decide to stop volunteering thousands of hours of time to improving this city and helping to find possible solution to the problems that confront us, our city would be in worse shape than what it is right now. And that doesn't even take into consideration the hundreds of other residents who give freely of their time, energy and money on behalf of this community. The Riverside Conservancy alone is composed of people who serve on New London's Planning and Zoning, the Neighborhood Alliance, New London's Meal Center, the NAACP, neighborhood groups, Beautification Committee and other of New London's boards.agencies or commissions yet still have made time to preserve one of New London's treasurers. Regarding Riverside Park itself, at least make an attempt to get your information straight. Volunteers have been working in Riverside since before 1994 in attempts to maintain and preserve this city asset which is the only park in East New London.
Ken April 04, 2012 at 03:06 PM
-- 3. Revenues and expenditures need to be placed into a logical context. The changes in both should be viewed over a 10-year perspective and then given a best guess 10-year projection. Each also should be compared to other similar cities in the area. Until everyone is on the same page with those 3 points any public discussion is worthless.
NewLondonSource April 04, 2012 at 03:10 PM
"I applaud the Mayor for his willingness to lead here." Well, after getting chased out of Westerly, he had to look for a vulnerable victim. The truth of the matter is that the Fiz has done nothing but create problems, from illegal severance packages, to hiring overpaid employees, to bringing lawsuit after lawsuit against the city, his actions have directly influenced these increase budgets in the municipal sector (not education). "I don't see how the past form of government did anything but punt if forward to where this is where we're at." You must have some pretty serious blinders on; Although, I would expect nothing less from someone who stands behind the Fiz no matter what. He can do no wrong in your eyes, isn't that right? The Fiz didn't turn any lights on, he merely added a few more dim bulbs that do nothing but suck up money and haven't shed any more light.
NewLondonSource April 04, 2012 at 03:20 PM
Here's a few ideas: Sell Riverside Sell Harbor School Fire the newly about deputy fire chief (haven't needed one in the last decade or so anyway) Reduce Tammy's salary to a more reasonable level Reduce all of FInizio's staff to something more reasonable (get rid of Jane - nobody can even get a clear explanation of her duties, anyway) Fire Peg - replace her with someone more effective, efficient and amiable. Reinstate the PD Captains that were illegally retired - avoid those eventual litigation payouts Work with EB to come to a resolution on property assessment Stop offering tax abatements to businesses That should get you started... Oh, and Alan, in your grandiose statements, don't forget that 50% of New London constituents that voted DID NOT vote for the Fiz. He hardly represents the majority, and if the 'Hatch' falls on Peg, it could prove that it was a narrow victory won through ill means.
William MacDonald April 04, 2012 at 03:34 PM
Well stated on all accounts, Ken Thank you
Michael Casteel April 04, 2012 at 04:42 PM
To the New London Souse - If everyone of your suggestions was implemented how much of a difference in an $87 million budget do you think they would make? Less than a million bucks. Selling Riverside and Harbor are one time deals and Harbor wouldn't bring more than chump change. Are you under some sort of delusion that EB is going to offer to pay more? Property values are based on market value.
Michael Casteel April 04, 2012 at 04:53 PM
Ken - You are a rare voice of reason on this site. The facts about the New London budget are easily found. What should scare the heck out of people is that half the revenue of New London comes from the State. It is cutbacks in State aid and the expiration of Federal grants that are responsible for the huge increase in the tax burden. Plus large increases in pay for union employees - increases that were promised long before Mr. Finizio became mayor. But don't let facts get in the way of a good hysterical rant folks. It is easier to make insulting comments about the Boy Mayor than face the fact that anyone interested in truth saw this coming a mile away. You can't have a City that spends over $3000 per resident and not have astronomically high taxes. You have a ton of City employees making over $100K per year. That is where the money goes - payroll.
Sue P. April 04, 2012 at 05:30 PM
Ok I'm ready to stop ranting and raving for now. I have to admit I do take things personally when it comes to my home city, and the friends and families that are affected by all of this. So now I'm ready to ask questions. 1) Has anybody received the complete budget from the BOE? How is 50% of the budget being spent? Is it mostly on payroll? I'm going to stop on #1 because I feel a rant coming on. One subject at a time. lol
Kathleen Mitchell April 04, 2012 at 06:03 PM
Sue P, In case it hasn't been mentioned, the complete budget has been posted on the city website.
NewLondonSource April 04, 2012 at 06:33 PM
@ Sue P: With regards to your comment about ranting about most of the BOE budget going to payroll, you have to first realize that the single largest expense of ANY organization is its personnel. As such, it would be unfair to criticize the BOE budget in that manner.
David Irons April 04, 2012 at 06:43 PM
Alan, I am all for regionalization and have been a cheerleader of it right along. But please don't lose sight of the fact that regionalization requires that all parties contribute something. It is not all give by one side and take by another. Waterford and NL could benefit from regionalization. We already cooperate in the area of public water. Extending gas lines might be another area for cooperation. Schools could be yet another. But, both sides must contribute something to the mix for it to succeed.
Sue P. April 04, 2012 at 06:46 PM
Please reread my comment I said I was done ranting. I was asking a question about if the Education dept. did finally turn over it's detailed budget. I know in the past they never did. I'm not asking these questions to be snarky I'm asking because I don't know the answers and was wondering if any of you did.
Sue P. April 04, 2012 at 06:57 PM
Kathleen thank you and I did look it up.
Ken April 04, 2012 at 06:59 PM
Yes, just type "New London CT budget" into Google and it will pop up. Of course, with all of the talk about why we "can no longer kick the can down the road," one has to wonder about how to interpret the data presented in the budget. But even given that the official budget may hide some of the problems, one can start to get a feel for the issues by viewing: --page 4 of the 2011-2012 budget--especially the Property Tax Comparisons table (pay attention to the last 2 columns) and the Grand Lists Components list. --page 13 for revenue sources. --pages 57 and 58 for an expenditures breakdown by departments and type.
Sue P. April 04, 2012 at 07:03 PM
I just looked at the budget for the Education Dept. I guess the information I want is how is every dollar spent? Did the Education Dept. ever release that information? Like how much goes to school lunches and how much is spent on books and so on. I know the Education Dept. never showed this info to anyone. I was just wondering if they finally did reveal how the money is being spent.
Get Real April 05, 2012 at 01:58 AM
Lets take a look at the city and how it is. Mostly colleges, house everywhere. Homeless incourage to move in, criminals allowed to run around doing what they want, illegal immigrants being given free rain, police told to mind there own business about there status, business are always being broken into. Now lets get rid of the fire fighters and a fire station. Maybe the city will burn down instead of homeless going to the bathroom on it. The city needs to be allowed to clean up, bring business in that will pay taxes. Whether Candace wants to admit it or maybe just wants to whine about being wrong, all of these new issues are not helping. Alot of people have the facts, and are not listened to. Alot of people know what will fix it and are not listened to. Things were improving and are now being brought backwards. Your attitude is what caused the issues. Those people that are being listened to and do the complaining right now and are being listened to are causing the problems to be worse. Truth is, there is no easy fix. Truth is, businesses are not going to last or be more successful downtown because of the crowd that occupies it at night, the drunks and homeless that walk it during the day. The cops are not allowed to clean up the city, and now the fireman will not be allowed to put it out when it burns. That is the real problem. Now Candace, how would you solve the city's issues since everyome else is Monday Quarterbacking?
Lisa Coe April 05, 2012 at 02:27 AM
Sue P., as the wife of a person that works in NL I think it is right and prudent to try to move into NL. On the other hand, as a person who has the ability to buy a house there I fear that the taxes are too huge. I have been searching the websites for homes for sale in NL and though I could easily afford the mortgage it is the taxes I cannot. I hear what you are saying. Thankfully I don't have school-age kids any longer so I don't have to worry about NLHS, but you are right, the economic climate isn't conducive to making the move. I am hoping that the right house will still come along though because I think the city of NL has much to offer. Re: your spelling of "current"...I got a chuckle out of that. I just posted on the spell-check poll about my inability to spell!
John Yannacci, Sr. April 05, 2012 at 10:26 PM
That's how you want to fix New London's problems, by taking Waterford's money? You're dumber than I thought.
John Yannacci, Sr. April 05, 2012 at 10:30 PM
"From each according to his ability, to each according to his need..." Alan Green, it appears that you've been reading Karl Marx like the good little Democrat you are.
John Yannacci, Sr. April 05, 2012 at 10:32 PM
Birds of a feather...
Carol D. Fox April 05, 2012 at 10:38 PM
citygirl: Selling Riverside Park for the paltry sum of money that was previously on the table is only is a band-aid approach. Now if they offered $50 million for it, that might be be a different story. I rode through Riverside Park a couple of weeks ago and it is really beautiful. Two years ago, it was a mess. So perhaps you should give credit where credit is due. Katherine Mitchell, and her so-called "cronies", have done a damn good job cleaning it up and making it a park to be proud of.
John Yannacci, Sr. April 06, 2012 at 02:30 PM
Candace, How compassionate were you when you fired a cook because he had a brain tumor?
michael Wilson April 19, 2012 at 10:44 PM
show US how its done....<div id="change_BottomBar"><span id="change_Powered"><a href="http://www.change.org" target="_blank">Petitions</a> by Change.org</span><a>|</a><span id="change_Start">Start a <a href="http://www.change.org/petition" target="_blank">Petition</a> &raquo;</span></div> <script type="text/javascript" src="http://e.change.org/flash_petitions_widget.js?width=300&color=1A3563&petition_id=336965"></script>
michael Wilson April 19, 2012 at 10:59 PM
@ Michael.... are you saying the kids are the problem or the LOW INCOME (STRUGGLING) FAMILIES are the issuse and the fact that they only make so much or are wasting money teaching "THEM" ? so what are you saying and what would you do. <div id="change_BottomBar"><span id="change_Powered"><a href="http://www.change.org"; target="_blank">Petitions</a> by Change.org</span><a>|</a><span id="change_Start">Start a <a href="http://www.change.org/petition"; target="_blank">Petition</a> &raquo;</span></div> <script type="text/javascript" src="http://e.change.org/flash_petitions_widget.js?width=300&color=1A3563&petition_id=336965"></script>;
michael Wilson April 19, 2012 at 11:10 PM
why not give the youth hope then at least if anyony was truely concerned right. infact besides YOUR hard working tax paying dollars what did you contribute that we can learn from to produce positive production while in this current condition as PEOPLE dealing with or feelin these same effects. <div id="change_BottomBar"><span id="change_Powered"><a href="http://www.change.org"; target="_blank">Petitions</a> by Change.org</span><a>|</a><span id="change_Start">Start a <a href="http://www.change.org/petition"; target="_blank">Petition</a> &raquo;</span></div> <script type="text/javascript" src="http://e.change.org/flash_petitions_widget.js?width=300&color=1A3563&petition_id=336965"></script>;
michael Wilson April 19, 2012 at 11:22 PM
i agree wih you a far as this county having plenty of time to do something with a lotof places, busiesses, abandoned builings and so on. Infact if WE feel like that then why do you feel s though NOW they can't or it's to late? maybe I just misunderstand this whole situation.

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