Monday, November 15, 2010
A Outlook of The Weekly News And Milford's Road Ahead
Thus far I am back at my desk this morning and have been looking at and analyzing the latest local and state news and the biggest challenges on the table are those that have become emblematic of all communities in Connecticut. Education, education spending, property taxes, and the fragility of survival of our towns citizens who live pay check to pay check.
An eerie reminder of this fragility happened to me just over the weekend. While I was out with my wife and step daughter Lea. We were mourning the loss of our dog together when Terri looked out the window of our booth at the Kimberly Diner and and cried out "Oh my God a woman just fell and is lying motionless on the ground! Somebody call 911!"
Soon several people rushed to her aid, fortunately the woman was alright, but we were told by our waitress who had gone outside to assist that this woman was likely to need several stitches on her forehead. She argued with those aiding her that she had "no health insurance and did not want to go to the hospital" fearing that her inability to pay would result in some punitive financial measure against the little she had left.
The woman did go to the hospital, and thankfully the Kimberly Diner was well equipped with all the necessary first aid equipment to respond to such emergencies. However, there was some frustration expressed when the 911 operator needed the address to the Diner just across the street from the Milford P.D. who immediately responded when they were called directly.
While this is just a random experience of the many tribulations we are now coming to endure, civility in the coming years is going to be more important than ever. As the Federal Government continues to deny our city, and state federal student money and grants as part of these newly emerging global austerity measures the people of Milford will be struggling to find a life balance.
This balance, however is going to be threatened once again by the very pillars that carry the entire town budget. Our mill rate is expected to change dramatically after the new 2011 assessments are complete. Record spikes in foreclosures in Milford and New Haven County have driven down the cost of real estate and stagnated home sales and the entire housing market.
While city officials have all but thrown up their hands and said "regardless of what the Grand List out come is, the budget is the budget!" This is a truly disparaging approach to our looming financial problems. In the past years, Milford has been undergoing a mini-austerity style debacle of its own. The city has made deep cuts in education, closing a school, cuts to the bulk pick ups, and several consolidations and cost cutting restructuring schemes of the police and Fire Departments. Milford may one day be faced with selling off its real estate and assets just to keep up.
Moving forward those schemes may be insufficient and not able to satisfy the current problems of the broader state and Federal economy still stuck at over 9.6% unemployment. While the worst unemployment picture we have since today's numbers date back to 1983 (when we had 13.5% unemployment,) those numbers were figured with a different formula. If we use the same formula from 1983 the true unemployment picture could be estimated at 18.9% making this recession the worst since 1929.
What remains as a state of severe uncertainty is the nature of the "Double dip." Experts tend to agree that our jobs and debt are unlikely to be abated soon making the "Double Dip" more likely rather than less likely. The nature of this "Double Dip" is an enigmatic one, but none-the-less of serious concern for a small city like ours. Should this dip become "Deflationary" like some fear than that would present a very different set of challenges than if the "Double Dip" goes "Inflationary" as several critics of the Fed's money printing program have been upset by.
There is going to be a strong need for some "math-magicians" at city hall to make it all work in 2011 and if we escape through the next budget without any dramatic tax increases or significant losses in services we should be proud of those who were able to negotiate and usher in those achievements. It is times like this that challenge, and threaten the very survival of our communities and only with lots of concessions, co-operation and civility can Milford succeed in the road ahead. Our leaders must look to the future in a way way that prepares us for anything, because at this point anything is possible.