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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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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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