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New London Republicans Say "No" To 2013 Budget

RTC encourages voters to reject municipal budget and tax rate in Sept. 18 referendum

About 20 members of the Republican Town Committee unanimously voted Tuesday to recommend opposing for the 2013 fiscal year as well as the tax rate at .

The Sept. 18 ballot will determine whether to uphold the $42,323,256 budget approved by the City Council on June 19 or return it to the council to craft a new budget proposal. The referendum also challenges the mill rate approved under the budget, which increases the tax rate per $1,000 of assessed value 7.5 percent from 25.31 to 27.22.

Bill Vogel, chairman of the RTC, said he thought the budget figures were “shaky” and that acceptance of the tax increase this year could lead to another increase in the 2014 fiscal year.

“Anything more than five percent, it's just out of bounds to ask people to go for that,” he said.

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Councilor Adam Sprecace was among the councilors in favor of the budget, but said Tuesday that he favored rejecting the budget at referendum due to subsequent concerns on the budget information. Sprecace said he had not received sufficient information on the budget items such as longevity funds and pension contributions for each municipal employee. He said he does not consider that the information available to councilors provides an adequate baseline for managing the budget at this point.

“There’s no way to verify that the money that’s being requested in the budget that’s on the website is required,” said Sprecace.

Avner Gregory, who owns rental properties in the city, said he and other landlords have had to reduce rents in order to attract tenants. He said he did not think landlords will be able to absorb the tax increase without driving people away through higher rents or reducing the money spent on property upkeep.

“There’s not room to do it. The landlords have to eat it,” he said.

Vogel suggested that the city can look at overspending in overtime payments, saying agreements with the and should help to reduce those expenditures. He also said he considered some municipal salaries to be exorbitant.

In a separate motion, the RTC unanimously agreed to call for a forensic audit of city finances for the past five years. Dr. George Sprecace said several questions have been raised regarding budget management in this period and that an audit would give a better understanding in this area.

Rob Pero, a former city councilor and the Republican mayoral candidate in last year’s election, criticized Finance Director Jeff Smith. Pero said he considers the finance director responsible for oversight of each department’s spending and accused Smith of having a “carefree attitude.”

“You had five employees that were added to a budget that, when it was developed, those jobs weren’t there,” he said.

The and have each voted in favor of supporting the budget and tax rate.

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Alan Green, Jr. September 12, 2012 at 12:20 PM
Sue - you're asking the wrong people. Do you want our library to have limited hours? Do you want the senior center to have diminished hours? How about a storm coming this winter and we have more snow than money to plow it? Ever seen a city shut down by a snow storm? Not pretty. Adam is voting against himself now. Odd how a party can have that effect on people. And the money finally being paid to the city (not 1.5M) was only found because our Deputy Econ Development person FOUND it. So what would this no vote mean? She'd be laid off! Smart? I don't think so. But you keep talking to the people you're talking to. Their only goal is to weaken the Mayor. That's been the goal all along. It's not about New London for these people. It's about giving the Mayor his comeuppance. I predict that if you weaken the Mayor (and the Council) now, then the state will take over. Vote YES!
William MacDonald September 12, 2012 at 12:23 PM
Still too many unanswered questions regarding Deneral Dynamics paying their fair share, bonding issues, and the real state of the budget to vote yes.
Greg Bryant September 12, 2012 at 12:24 PM
Alan Green Jr. Get your facts in order. The mayor can make no cuts, he can only submit to the council. Council can redo teh budget and eliminate ALL discretionary spending by the mayor. Scare tactics for sure, the mayor cannot not have the snow cleared, the mayor cannot eliminate grant funded youth programs. The mayor did in fact over spend $1.6 million dollars this past year, do not say he will not spend money that the city does not have. He already has, a leopard does not change his spots.
Alan Green, Jr. September 12, 2012 at 12:27 PM
Yes, William, all these need to be explored - but we're already moving into deficit spending. We can't wait for things outside city's control to show the state that we can get our house in order. And, if we expect GD to work well with the city, we have to show them first that the city can work well with itself, don't you think?
Greg Bryant September 12, 2012 at 12:38 PM
Perhaps Adam Sprecace is now against the budget. Maybe you should ask him rather than assume. What about councilor Passero who was against the budget before he was forced by a contract with his union to be for the budget. How come that does not bother you? The mayor through contract took away his right to free speech. Very democratic! If the mayor does not succeed here it is his own doing. That does not mean the state will step in. The statements that the state will just raise taxes as high as the state wants is an outright lie. A NO VOTE on this referendum is a vote for accountability!
Alan Green, Jr. September 12, 2012 at 12:39 PM
Greg - My understanding of the charter is that the council can appropriate money and tell the departments what they CAN spend. But that doesn't mean that the departments MUST spend it. That's at the discretion of the Mayor. So, for example, if the Mayor doesn't feel that the city has enough for snow removal, that to clear that storm's huge downfall would be spending money the city does not in fact have, that it would go against fiscal sanity, then, well, my understanding is, the Mayor can tell Public Works not to remove that snow. I'm not saying he'd do that, but other Mayors have. And this would be true for any department. It's my understanding that if the budget is not approved, necessary cuts will be made. And you can debate whether council can stop those cuts, but I think we've seen how this Mayor doesn't feel the need to ask permission - he feels he has the authority from the voters, the charter and his law director. I know that drives a lot of people who are used to the city manager form of government up a wall. I'm curious how you think the Mayor has overspent $1.6M? And, please, don't say Tammy and Zak. That's only $.13M or so. My impression of the Mayor and his team is that they care more about fiscal responsibility - solvency - than anyone here in New London. How about some specifics?
Greg Bryant September 12, 2012 at 12:39 PM
Sue P. Do not let the facts get in the way of Daryl's argument for a yes vote.
Sue P. September 12, 2012 at 12:48 PM
Why would any one vote yes on a budget that Mayor Finizio himself voted no against. Remember people he vetoed this budget. Why? Also Mr. Cornick it seems like you think someone has done something wrong in the past. What if someone is doing wrong right now. Who gave permission for some dept.s to overspend their budget? It was not the council. I don't think I want to chance a tax hike on something that we are not truly clear on. The finance directer has some explaining to do.Vote No and let's get to the bottom of all this double talk. It's the logical thing to do.
Alan Green, Jr. September 12, 2012 at 12:49 PM
Greg - Adam is forced by his party to be a waffler. Odd that the RTC has given the Dems that ammunition. I'd say it's a bit short sighted. sorry - I don't know the specifics on the Passero vote. Mike seems to me to listen to his own conscience and recused himself as he - and others - would deem appropriate. I'm not certain, but I think Mike personally supports a YES vote (as he's also an active member of the DTC) and I guess I have more faith in his character than you do. He certainly doesn't kowtow to the Mayor, but I believe he sees the need for fiscal responsibility at this juncture. If the Mayor - and this city - do not succeed it'll be due to those who vote no. :D VOTE YES!
Sue P. September 12, 2012 at 12:51 PM
The finance directer and probably the other five before him need to answer the questions. Who has the pen in hand to sign the checks?
citygirl September 12, 2012 at 01:08 PM
Adam Sprecace was waiting for the Mayor and Jeff Smith to provide a detailed budget breakdown after all the recent changes such as salaries, benefits, and pension payments. Instead, all that was provided was top level summary categories. Adam felt the numbers were not accurate therefore, he responsibly changed his position to a NO VOTE. This had nothing to do with party politics. Get your information straight! We're waiting for Jeff Smith to provide the REAL budget information! We want transparency before we vote for this budget, so vote NO!
Nicholas Jacobs September 12, 2012 at 01:40 PM
By Charter the FINANCE DIRECTIOR must pay for any payments not authorized by the Council. Here is the Charter language clear as day. Article VIII Sec. 63. - Liability of director of finance. If the director of finance issues a warrant on the treasury authorizing payment for any item for which no appropriation has been made, or for the payment of which there is not sufficient balance in the proper fund, or which for any other cause should not be approved, he and his sureties shall be individually liable to the city for the amount of such warrant, if paid.
Alan Green, Jr. September 12, 2012 at 01:51 PM
Waiting for the Mayor and Smith? Why did he vote 'yes' to begin with? Was he not fully informed then to make that decision? If not, why would he have voted that way? He is in fact now voting against his previous vote, no? Did the RTC decide to serve waffles for breakfast this morning? Dems are feeling very satisfied. Adam actually seemed to understand what's going on. Too bad the RTC now says he doesn't.
Nicholas Jacobs September 12, 2012 at 01:51 PM
CAN YOU SAY ACCOUNTABILITY??? Hope this helps, overspent by just over 1.6 million for 2011-2012 bugdet, Jeff Smith was finance director for the last 10+ months of that fiscal year and Daryl was mayor for nearly 7 months of that fiscal year. They are both responsible. Before any budget increase recoup the $1.6 million from the finance Director per the charter. http://www.theday.com/article/20120910/NWS01/309109944/New-London-adjusts-to-life-with-no-financial-cushion On Tuesday, Smith presented the City Council with preliminary numbers after closing the 2011-12 budget. It showed city departments had overspent the $42 million general government budget by just over $1.6 million. The city also collected about $3 million less than it estimated it would receive in revenues. The Board of Education returned about $31,000 to the city.
citygirl September 12, 2012 at 01:52 PM
The Finance Director, Jeff Smith, should be held accountable for the 1.7 million dollar over expenditure for the year ending June 30th. How are we to believe that Jeff Smith's performance on THIS budget will be any better than his performance on last year's budget? He has a lot of explaining to do! Even though he works for the mayor his is still held accountable by the charter.
Alphonse DeLachance September 12, 2012 at 04:11 PM
If the mayor will not hold his department heads accountable, the council should.
Matt Covey September 12, 2012 at 05:08 PM
Why are ya'll arguing over who's at fault for what while we're holding onto the edge of the cliff with only two fingers left? All NLers need to get up off the bench, stop squabbling, and help fix this now. For years, we were promised no new taxes were needed. We know now that wasn't realistic. For years, we were told that we had more money than we did. We know now that wasnt true. For years, we gave out tax abatements and incentives to shore up more long term revenue. We know now that wasn't sound. And we know now that our fund balance has been paying the difference all along. Since the full scope of our deficit was announced, that infomation has gone thru the fire every day and is still standing in all the important ways. A lot of smart people (most of whomever we elected to do this work for us) have been pouring over this for many months. You guys wanna keep arguing over details while we're falling off the cliff? It's time to be adults, do what needs to be done, and pull together to fix this mess now. And let's not stop at pulling ourselves back up from the edge, let's get 50 ft back from the edge while we're at it just in case another storm comes thru. After that, we can figure who did what to whom with the candlestick in the study.
Matt Covey September 12, 2012 at 05:12 PM
In the meantime, I'll ask why you the Mayor and several council members would argue so hard in favor of something so politically unpopular? You don't knowingly put everyone's eyes on you when you have something to hide. It is easy to tell ppl what they want to hear, like the folks leading the referendum charge are...supporting what is obviously the politically popular option. It's a lot harder to put it on the line and give us an ugly truth. I await the conspiracy theories. Vote yes and yes!
Alphonse DeLachance September 12, 2012 at 05:16 PM
Matt if we never identify the root cause and the fault and correct it we will just have the same problem over and over, to dismiss the past is a foolish notion. The money was there, it was spent without authorization, that is misappropriation of funds and the finance director is responsible to make good on those funds by our charter. End of story. Do you dare suggest we ignore that and not hold the finance director accountable? We have to do the accountability piece before we throw anymore money into the hands of those responsible. Doing it the otherway around is childish and foolish.
Sue P. September 12, 2012 at 05:41 PM
Mr. Cornick, that is not true what you posted above. I use to have respect for your comments because they were well thought out and use to be honest. Why would you say such a thing about a small group of republicans from New London when it has always been the democrats who have led this city. We are trying to explain that there is an error in the budget and money is not where it is suppose to be. When this all comes to light will you still blame it on the same people that had nothing to do with it. That's just plain prejudice.
Sue P. September 12, 2012 at 05:52 PM
Understand!!
Sue P. September 12, 2012 at 05:54 PM
Matt, The Mayor voted no on this budget so I'm not going to go against the Mayor and I also will vote No against this budget.
Smell the desperation September 12, 2012 at 06:25 PM
Adam will be voting against the budget, since it is incomplete and after requesting the rest of the budget for two months, the Mayor has been unwilling to give to him or the public.
Smell the desperation September 12, 2012 at 06:31 PM
The budget is incomplete and rather than provide all of the information, the administration chooses to bully and scare people. I think half of the no voters would support the budget if all of the information was out and the obvious waste was cut. Before the Alan asks, the biggest items missing are pention roll and empoyee and associated expense reports. Lots else too, but that has been witheld for months.
Nicholas Jacobs September 12, 2012 at 06:33 PM
Separate the lies and scare tactics from the truth: From the New London Charter: Sec. 11-56. - Collection schedule. (a) All residential establishments in the city shall receive one (1) collection per week by dividing the entire city into five (5) sectors and collecting one (1) sector each day, Monday through Friday, as scheduled on the map entitled "Department of Public Works, Schedule of Collections of Refuse and Garbage", dated July 20, 1971, on file in the office of the department of public works and utilities. (b) All business and commercial establishments within commercial or industrial zones shall receive two (2) collections per week on Tuesdays and Fridays.
Matt Covey September 12, 2012 at 06:40 PM
@Tom, agreed @Sue, hmmm you know that that No vote was about the need to reduce costs in the FD that was being blocked... which is what this entire referendum is purportedly about: making sure we've cut all costs that are within reason to keep the tax increase as low as possible...right? So that's a silly argument. @Alphonse, Where did I say we wouldn't do that? I didn't dismiss it all, but ur reading what you want to read in my comment so you've skipped my entire point. I would normally agree with you about making sure this stuff is 100% straightened out first. The prob is we're hanging onto the cliff ledge but NOW we no longer have a parachute (fund balance). It will matter considerably less to us who's fault when we're dead (state takeover). LOT is so concerned with having all the details the just way they want em that we're not doing anything at all. Instead we're losing more and more money racking up deficit spending while ya'll quibble over stuff that can easily be dealt with later, and should be.
Nicholas Jacobs September 12, 2012 at 06:45 PM
If the mayor and council get together and go after this finance director, make him make good per the charter, then go back after past finance directors we will have a huge fund balance and the budget will be fine. Show the people accountability first before taxing them any more. The point of the VOTE NO is fiscal accountability.
Matt Covey September 12, 2012 at 06:47 PM
*and by later, I mean this year. 2) the spending you refer to was based on an inaccurate picture of the state of our financial affairs. I understand that you disagree with that spending on principle in the first place, and that's all well and good. but the idea that the money was there, that this spending caused our current problem fails the arithmetic test. as far as the idea that Jeff Smith should have known we didn't have the money when all the surface documents said otherwise...Look, you wanna try looking thru the foggy window that was our clerk's office and our previous three years of financial mismanagement and be asked to read the vision test on the far wall? That argument is like being mad at your doctor for not finding your cancer fast enough but not batting an eye when the hospital tells you it wasn't his fault that the MRI machine wasn't working properly. He MIGHT have SOME fault, but you should prob start getting treatment first before you sue the guy.
Matt Covey September 12, 2012 at 06:50 PM
@Nicholas, I don't disagree with that idea at all. But we have a set of facts that is hardly in dispute anymore. We can do that AND pass a budget that we KNOW will save us from disaster. $1/day isn't worth avoiding the possibility of state takeover?
Felicia Hendersen September 12, 2012 at 07:07 PM
VOTE NO everyone: State takeover is a myth of what will happen, all of that is governed by state statute. Mr. Covey do the research and post it before Mr. Jacobs beats you to the punch putting another hole in the scare tactics of the unite new london coalition. If UNL was on solid grounds they would provide backup documentation to support their claims. But for that to happen it would have to be the truth not lies.

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