Thursday, April 7, 2011

Milfords Budget Showdown Looms

Greg Smith the current Republican board of Alderman Chair has placed the below quote on his Facebook page this week and anyone in Milford who is concerned about taxes going up and up along with everything else is encouraged to attend. Smith said:

"The Board of Aldermen will hold a Public Hearing regarding the 2011-2010 Budget on Thursday, April 7, 2011 at 7pm in the City Hall Auditorium. This is your chance to be heard and hear what others have to say. I hope to see you there."

The Milford Democrats have posted the following graph (below) on their Democrat Blog. The graph clearly states that the only tax decrease ever realized in Milford was under the leadership of past BOA Chairman Ben Blake. The chart, according to its author states "The Mayor's speechifying aside; the numbers are speaking for themselves. Mayor Richetelli has proposed an average 4.6% annual increase in spending during his tenure."

This years budget, like last years budget marks additional increases that the mayor indicates are required to maintain educational and essential services. The Board of Education last year, closed Simon Lake school and this year taxes are expected to go up again another few hundred dollars per home owner. The bigger problem is the loss of education funds, an estimated 1.5 Million or $7.00 in additional taxes per taxable property.

The Showdown now is on between taxpayers, teachers, and parents. Taxpayers are upset with high tax increases every year, the teachers and city unions are upset with constant requests for concessions and layoff threats, and parents are upset their kids education, along with city services, are in constant decline.

There is not much clarity on where all the money is going and why taxpayers have to pay more every year just so every area of government can be scaled back. This in my opinion is distressing, especially after you look at the above chart and realize that its true we are paying more for less.

Some feel that these problems are symptomatic of a leadership crisis in Milford, that there are abuses of the fiduciary responsibility between taxpayers and their elected leaders. Others blame the unions for being excessive in their demands and off paycheck benefits such as excessive pension contributions, first class health care benefits and office perks negotiated through collective bargaining. 

Some city leaders are squarely placing blame on our elected leaders at the state and federal level. Its their opinion, that they are to blame for not restoring funds to local cities and municipalities. Last month our Mayor Jim Richetelly was up in Hartford protesting the proposed changes to the (MME's) The Chair of Commerce Rep. Jeff Berger spoke about these proposed changes to the Manufacturing Machinery & Equipment reimbursement to municipalities (MME's) in the governor's budget and the potential to affect his and other cities whose budgets rely on these state funds. Rep. Berger has been meeting with colleagues to find alternatives to reduce the impact on local budgets if the proposed cuts are approved.

Milford, like Waterbury, has a very heavy manufacturing base and will be impacted negatively if these funds are lost. Moving forward, if our Democratic Representatives and Senators fail to confront our new governor  the city may have to rely on creative accounting and new ways of procuring tax revenue. This task will be especially difficult in the current down economy where inflation is high, the dollar weak, and public sentiment toward government is at an all time low.

People are fed up with the enigmatic implementation of multiple layers of taxes. The frustration only worsens when people realize those taxes levied upon them are in tandem with a continuing loss of city services. Some have even decried that every year we move a little closer to a community based on "taxation without representation."

While no real significant protests have emerged as of yet in Milford, the Independent party does urge every able citizen to attend the upcoming budget meeting and let them know that this is your town. The budged is not "the budget" the budget is what it needs to be to preserve the integrity of our schools and keep our homes affordable during a period of contraction something the city of Milford continues to struggle with.

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