Revised Budget Heads to Public Hearing on Monday (8/4/2014)

The Joint Boards of Mayor and Burgesses (“Joint Boards”) approved a revised budget on Thursday (7/31/2014) night to be presented at a public hearing on Monday, August 4, 2014, 6:30 PM, at City Hill Middle School (441 City Hill Street, Naugatuck,  CT  06770).  The revised budget was crafted in response to  Tuesday’s (7/29/2014) referendum which overwhelmingly rejected the previously adopted budget.

The new proposed budget is $113,814,192, down $1,426,985.00 from the originally adopted figure of $115,241,177.  The Joint Boards cut $204,206.00 from the Board of Education budget after a lengthy debate and several votes for different cuts.  Cuts totaling $1,222,779.00 were made to the municipal side of the budget.  Minor mathematical adjustments may be necessary to certain line items.  Adjustments to revenues include an increase of $300,000.00 for outstanding taxes collectible and a reduction of $1,160,664.00 in the educational cost sharing (“ECD”) revenue resulting from state Alliance District money being originally included.  If adopted in its current form, the revised budget would result in a slight drop to the of the current 44.80 mill rate to 44.68.  A house appraised at the median home value in Naugatuck (according to www.zillow.com) at 161,500.00 (assessed at 70% would be  at $113,050.00) would see an approximate $13.57 decrease in residential property taxes if the revised budget is ultimately adopted.

The revised budget can be viewed here in Microsoft Excel format.  Said document includes links that list some of the proposed changes made at the beginning of the meeting, and the actual change summary.  The revised budget can be viewed in .pdf format here.

56 comments on this post.
  1. Jan J Mizeski:

    From the information you provided in the attached spreadsheet. The budget does not seem to have been examined closely. I hope for the benefit of this town it will be examined closer prior to a possible second referendum.

  2. Bob:

    Hi Jan:

    The budget has been examined closely for six months. If you have specific concerns you would like to discuss, please post, email (bob@bobmezzo.com) or call my cell (203-217-0876). Sometimes examination of complicated matters causes one to recognize inconvenient facts that distort the narrative one has created to explain difficult circumstances or advance personal opportunity.

  3. Jan J Mizeski:

    Hi Mayor Bob,

    I actually consulted a degreed and experienced English major as to what the meaning of your last sentence was in the previous reply. This is what she came up with: “Sometimes when you look at things you have to face annoying factors that make you reconsider the logic you use to see your environment. We tell ourselves things to make sense of our situations, but sometimes complicated things make us revisit those stories we use to make sense of our world.”

    I take her version as to what you were trying to tell me and please correct me if I’m mistaken.

    As to the budget I will be happy to post my questions and concerns in this public forum. Thank You for your prompt response.

  4. Bob:

    Hi Jan:

    I apologize for being so wordy. The sentence was a long-winded take on the old saying “Don’t let the facts get in the way of a good story”.

    I welcome your comments and opinions. Have a great day.

  5. Andy Hanson:

    Hi Bob,
    Tonight was my first public hearing. I learned a lot I think. First I want to give you and the boards much credit for the budget changes you made this year. The trash pickup, the VNA & the youth services were all very good changes that were realistic and needed. Thank you for pushing them through! But the small cut you made from the budget since the referendum isn’t enough.
    My take on tonight though was that the boards are not listening to the people when they have clearly spoken that more can be done. When suggestions were made there was continued resistance to look at them. The answer was “we can’t do that”. “We can’t cut overtime, we can’t cut hours, we can’t cut people, we can’t cut the golf course, we can’t cut anymore”. They do all of that in the real world. Meaning private business. We need more of the changes you’ve started. What’s wrong with cutting all overtime? A hiring freeze? Do we really need to spend $167,000 on summer help this year? I’ll say it too: if the golf course can’t pay it’s own way, then sell it. It’s proving the theory that government doesn’t know how to run a business.
    The attitude of government servants needs to change. They should be responding to their people’s wishes. You were given a mandate as you said. But you still need to deliver on it. Find a way. I know you can. You’ve come this far. Keep it going! Thanks for listening!

  6. harriet:

    Residents or employees of the Borough of Naugatuck have either hired or elected individuals to develop a budget that is palatable to the Residents of Naugatuck. If the Residents call for a reduction in the budget then it is YOUR JOB and THEIR JOB to cut the budget. That’s what you were either hired or elected to do. Do not tell me to call you personally to discuss what I think should be cut that is your job.

    Oh and here are my suggestions. I see in the budget that there are line items where there appears to be a 3% increase in wages. Why not start there. Lower the wage increase. How about negotiating contracts that eliminate the no layoff clause so that when you privatize trash collections positions can be eliminated. And please don’t say that this is a fault of unions, Administrators of Naugatuck negotiate the contracts right alongside Union employees. How about Naugatuck shouldn’t have forgiven $300,000 or more in taxes for one company.

    Also I perceive that your comment to Jan Mizeski was not meant kindly. I thought that was somewhat inappropriate.

    It’s time for you and your officials to listen to the Residents. This town does not offer a lot to anyone who is looking to relocate so who would move here? People want to leave because taxes are too high for what you get in this town. We can’t seem to attract any industry to take over when other businesses leave.

  7. Bob:

    Hi Andy:

    Hope you and the family are well. Thanks for coming to the public hearing and posting your comments. You are correct that there is a reluctance by some members of the Joint Boards of Finance and Mayor and Burgesses (“Joint Boards”), including myself, to make too drastic of cuts at this point in the process. Such reluctance is not an unresponsiveness to the referendum, as hundreds of thousands of dollars in additional cuts have been made; but a fear that we are making decisions that will be harmful to the long-term well-being and financial health of our community. It is an unfortunate situation. Several Joint Board members spent countless hours reviewing the budget in great detail and believe that the initial budget was responsible and that there was no “fat” in it. Voters clearly disagreed, and now are demanding more cuts without being very specific. That is perfectly understandable, but does not make for good budgeting. Personally I think we are in a terrible place as a community because of this, and would have the same opinion if I was not in my current position.

    You correctly state that we have made substantial cuts to such services and the visiting nurses association and the youth and family services, while privatizing the sanitation operation. Those decisions, which are painful to say the least, have been talked about for many years. This Joint Boards effectuated all of them in one budget cycle.

    Head count has been reduced in almost every department. 2 firefighters who retire are not being replaced for one year. That will increase overtime because there are mandatory staffing requirements in the contract. There were 20 + positions at the VNA and 1 plus some part times at youth and family that will soon be gone. 8 Public Works positions will not be refilled this years, in addition to the 3 positions that were already open in sanitation. 5.5 employees will not be replaced permanently as a result of sanitation privatization. We are done 5 positions at town hall due to consolidation of positions. The Board of Education will have about 20.5 full time employees less this school year than last, including what translates to 15.4 certified teachers. Quite honestly I do not know how many more positions can be eliminated without not having enough people to perform basic functions. Each year we try to eliminate/consolidate positions and work smarter, but so many at once is very difficult to absorb.

    Comparing private industry to public government is a tempting but difficult endeavor. Change can happen, but it happens slowly and usually through a complex series of negotiations and a lot of give and take. When someone hears “we can’t do that”, then can come to a couple basic conclusions. 1. The person saying that is lying, lazy, full of excuses or a combination thereof. or 2. There is a legitimate reason why something that seems to make common sense in private industry in which I work may not be so easy to implement in the public sector. The laws from the state are not designed to allow local public sector management to make drastic changes. Most private sector businesses do not operate in collective bargained environments with a binding arbitration process.

    Not a single person I know on the Joint Boards likes to pay overtime. The alternative of budgeting for what we know to be the real expense, however, is to include an unrealistic figure that will require attention later in the fiscal year. The excessive overtime is a direct reflection of the cost and the requirements of the collective bargaining agreement staffing requirements.

    Summer employment provides a cheaper alternative for youth programs and basic landscaping/field maintenance that would otherwise be more expensive if performed by a dramatically reduced Public Works staff. If we eliminate all or parts of it we would reduce activities, some of which have revenue components, that benefit kids and families during the summer. I do not support that, but no one on the Joint Boards associated with the referendum movement has even made such a motion.

    I also do not support elimination or privatization of the Hop Brook Golf Course. We are going to formulate a request for qualification to seek interest from companies who would potentially be interested in operating the course. My knowledge of such arrangements in other communities does not leave me with a favorable impression. Again, while I do not support elimination or privatization of the golf course, no one on the Joint Boards advocating for reductions in service there has made a motion to do so.

    We have made cuts, and continue to look for more to do so. Unfortunately it is difficult to determine the appropriate and responsible amount. Some of this is politically driven. Before the mill rate was too high. Now it is lower than last year’s but it is still not enough. There are also different and converging reasons why different people opposed the budget. Some, like one of the speakers last night (8/4/2014), opposed the budget primarily because the VNA was transitioned away from a town department. Ironically the person most responsible for organizing the referendum has opposed the VNA as a member of the Joint Boards for years. Rather than work with the collective bargaining units to responsibly resolve their employment, some advocated an eliminate the funding scenario and be done with the department approach. Coalitions form in interesting ways.

    I appreciate your opinions and welcome any further thoughts that you might have.

  8. Jan Mizeski:

    Hi Mayor Bob,

    With all do respect to your comments in the post. The small things need to be looked after. I have prepared budgets but not on the scale you have to. I would hope it’s an easier job than I had at the time. Keeping everyone safe, happy, and privately funded should be of your utmost concern. I have begged for a justification of the Naugatuck Golf Course. Apparently I’m not asking the correct person. So I ask you Mr. Mayor to please present a case to the town of Naugatuck in a published article as to why it should not be cut out of the budget. This seems not to affect the youth or the elderly people of this town. It would be beneficial to all for a case to be made in a public forum as to the towns ROI (Return on Investment). Thank You.

  9. Bob:

    Hi “Harriet”:

    Ultimately we all have a responsibility to make our community a great place to live, work, raise a family and run a business. Those who believe public or community service is simply being a grand knight of the keyboard and offering few, viable solutions do not solve the problem. One can demand that elected/appointed officials or Borough employees fix everything at no cost, tell everyone what they want to hear and never talk about any of the inconvenient facts all one want. The problem with that is that set of elected/appointed officials and Borough employees will be gone replaced by another, but the problems will still be there.

    I did not ask you to call me. I simply offer very direct and easy ways to reach me if people have legitimate questions or concerns. If your choice is simply to use a fake name on a blog to vent, that is fine with me.

    I did not direct blame to any union. I simply explained the difficulty of making certain decisions commonly imposed in the private sector in the context of a collectively bargained, public sector environment. I realize that your particular union’s negotiations left you disappointed and upset, but that had little to do with management. If you believe that the organizers of the referendum drive have any sympathy for your bargaining unit you are sorely mistaken. Some of the organizers would gladly eliminate jobs from your bargaining unit and reduce hours to reduce benefits. You may want to consider the beliefs of those whom you believe are supporting you.

    As for my comments to Mr. Mizeski, we are both adults engaged in public conversations. When one enters this arena one should not expect an environment where there is only accountability for decorum on one side. Regardless, I practice respect when discussing matters with residents, and Mr. Mizeski does the same when conversing with me. Nothing about my comments was inappropriate, they were an observation that I believe. I will be glad to answer his question about the golf course later.

  10. Bob:

    Hi Jan:

    I will be glad to address your question about the Hop Brook Golf Course (“HBGC”). I would start by stating that I support maintaining HBGC as a Borough department provided that every effort is being made to responsibly minimize costs and maximize revenue. I also do not support privatizing the course. The City of Hartford privatized previously, but has now resumed municipal operations. Other such arrangement have received mixed reviews.

    HBGC is a form of recreation. The age of golfers usually ranges from teenagers to people in their 80′s and 90′s. While there is a business aspect to it that makes it unique, it is a municipal asset in some ways like any other park or field. We subsidize other forms of recreation in the form of football, soccer, baseball, basketball, etc., which cost us much more than the operating deficit that currently exists at HBGC. The pro and staff at the course have been working hard to improve play and programs with a focus on increasing revenue. That does not happen overnight.

    We are willing to publish some type request for qualifications (“RFQ”) soliciting market interest for a third party operator. While I am not supportive of efforts to privatize, I am not opposed to having as much information as possible.

    It is difficult to place an exact value on the return on investment (“ROI”) for an entity like HBGC. There is an inherent value-added to have a golf course with a quality restaurant in a community. A solid ROI figure would need to analyze and quantify HBGC’s impact on home values, quality of life and multiplier effect for other businesses that benefit from those coming to and from HBGC. I do not have access to such data and do not believe it is worth incurring an expense to obtain it.

    There are certainly others who disagree. What is interesting is that none of the members of the Joint Boards of Finance and Mayor and Burgesses made any motion when I asked them to regarding the elimination of HBGC. There were not even any motions to reduce even part of the operation at HBGC. One of the biggest leaders of the referendum movement, a vocal critic of HBGC for years, stated at the public hearing that he did not support elimination of HBGC despite being reported as hinting at it in the media. His legal-like response of exact wording of what he has said in the past would have made President Clinton proud.

    That is my position on HBGC. I would be glad to further clarify it for you upon request. Personally, I would be interested in hearing the details of others’ proposals to eliminate, privatize or make any other changes to HBGC. At this point I have heard no details.

  11. Mike w:

    Mr. Mayor,
    I applaud your stance on the golf coarse, it is the only park in town, that I know of, that brings money back to the town. Even if it cost more to run it is worth it ten fold.

    As far as the budget and cost of living in town I think more should have been done after the public made a huge stance against the first run. But everyone gave little. I would not call 600, on 115 million a lot I know you will just bond the 800k so don’t tell me it is 1.4 mil.

    Is there a way to make employees start paying more for their health care? What about 401k with employee contributions, instead of full pensions? Did you really give the fire chief 89k pension? How can we afford that? If I want any money for retirement I have to put it away myself. My employer cut his contributions to keep me working. Seemed fair to me ( I still have a job). As for health care, I was asked to pay more too. Really didn’t have a choice with kids I needed to keep insurance. So my take home pay is a lot less and I “find a way”.
    Is there a way to eliminate the unions and just be an open business? I know the unions have the employees first mind set which makes contracts with guarantee wage increases. There are lots of people out there that are just happy to find work right now but yet municipal employees are still profiting, that just doesn’t sit well with many.

    Sorry this could get long. It may help to show people how much was actually spent last year and how much is in a surplus. Ie. early retirement buyouts. I know you spent 675,k to save 2.1 but maybe some should just be let go? Some of the line items seem unexplained to me. The economic development position for one, 94,k is that salary? If I got this right, the person that was holding that position didn’t do I good job? And a new person was hired 6months ago. I heard that at the meeting. Why is he making the same money? Why not hire at a lower rate? I don’t know the staffing numbers, but I hear we have a lot of counselers and others in the school that are not teachers, do we need those numbers? What about the police and fire? Their line items don’t give the whole picture? Is the staffing correct for the need or is their excess? Do we really need new cars all the time? I am all for what they do and hope they are their ” god forbid” I have to call but is the supply and demand correct? And the firearms number or uniform cleaning seemed to take big jumps? Is this really needed in a town that almost never “except for their own car” fire a weapon? I am sorry to go on and on, just a concerned citizen, trying to understand.

    I also beg of you, if this does go to vote and get voted to high again please think about the cuts before cutting things that people care about or use or that every town should have . Ie parks library sports. I hate the rumors that it is going to affect the public or the kids.

    I look forward to your response and to getting more involved. Thanks

  12. Jan Mizeski:

    Hello Mayor Bob,

    Thank You for your reply on the golf course. That plan may be adequate for this years budget situation. Steps in place seem to be generating some result on making the golf course revenue neutral. My opinion on this is; Should the loss of income to the town remain their should be a plan put in place, in writing, that would outline how the golf course and it’s associated business will become revenue neutral in a specified time frame. Then this written plan can be presented to the town of Naugatuck. I hope that much could be done. For now eliminating budgeted overtime costs should be considered except for emergency considerations. I am led to believe overtime is figured into town employee pension benefits. Thank You for your replies and attention to this item. Nice to see you cutting grass at no charge.

  13. Bob:

    Hi Mike:

    Thanks for your comments. I agree that $600,000.00 (that is even probably high after subtracting the sewer study) cut from a $115 million budget is not a high percentage. That presumes, however, that lots of cuts were not already made throughout the many months of deliberation on the budget already. Once a budget is adopted, there is generally very little that is discretionary anymore. I was surprised to get what we did after the referendum, but there are issues with this budget that make me nervous. Cuts to the magnitude that some are suggesting could have very negative consequences to many; and further revenue enhancements can present problems in future years.

    I appreciate your suggestions, but many of them (particularly in your third paragraph) are in violation of the Connecticut Municipal Employee Relations Act (“MERA”). My guess from your post is that you do not work in a collectively bargained environment that provides rights protected by state law when you employer wants to unilaterally changes your pay or benefits.

    For the record, all new hires in any of our seven municipal collective bargaining units (“CBU”) enter defined contribution plans similar to the 401 (k)’s in the private sector. This had to be negotiated with each and every bargaining unit; and all of them wanted something in exchange for that concession. The same is true of the concessions increasing the portion of health care benefits that the employees’ pay. I do not support “eliminating all unions”, but there is absolutely no way that could be done on the local level anywhere in Connecticut.

    We reconcile our fiscal years when all outstanding revenues and expenses are accounted. This usually occurs in late August or September following the close of a fiscal year on June 30th. I usually post the same on my blog after the Joint Boards meets.

    Economic development in Naugatuck is administered by the Naugatuck Economic Development Corporation (“NEDC”), a public private partnership that is a separate entity from Borough government. The $94,000.00 you referenced is the Borough’s contribution to the partnership, which is supplanted by approximately $60,000.00 of funds contributed by private businesses. The President’s salary is in the low $70,000.00′s, not the figure you reference. Many economic development professionals make in excess of $100,000.00. The Borough’s contribution to the NEDC has remained the same for many years.

    School social workers are certified teachers and part of the teachers CBU. I am not an educational expert or psychologist, but noticing some of the issues many of our students are facing, it is hard to argue that social workers are not important in our schools. Police and fire staffing is lower than recommended industry standards. Minimum staffing numbers are in each CBU, and overtime is often spent to back-fill positions (which is also required by the CBU’s) when police officers and firefighters are out sick or on vacation.

    We purchase new police vehicles on a rotating basis almost every year (with last year being an exception) because our history shows that when we do not do so, we spend more and buy new cars more often. Police vehicles that are not rested regularly sometimes do not last a year.

    The increase in the ammunition account is due to (i) the rise in cost of ammunition; and (ii) an additional certification during the year. I know you referenced that officers do not discharge their firearms often in the line of duty (which is a good thing). That prompts our insurance carrier to suggest more training to ensure that even though officers do not use their firearms in active duty, they are adequately trained to do so.

    “I also beg of you, if this does go to vote and get voted to high again please think about the cuts before cutting things that people care about or use or that every town should have . Ie parks library sports. I hate the rumors that it is going to affect the public or the kids.”

    I re-posted your second from last paragraph because it highlights what I believe to be a common theme. People want cuts, but can not agree on what they should be. I suspect people want all the services that they like and value, but that our employees should do them for less money and benefits. Unlike private industry, that is difficult in a collectively bargained environment.

    Some might say cut staff, but not programs. The inconvenient fact about that is that there is usually a person involved with a program, event or service that residents value. I would not vote to cut sports, but local sports thrive because of people: coaches, administrators, people who line and prepare the fields for play and those who issue permits for usage and create schedules. Many people like the fireworks every year, but that involves making contractually required overtime of about $8,000.00 in each of our three largest departments (Police, Fire & DPW); even more for the Board of Education when they were at the high school.

    I also apologize for the length of my reply, but you did ask a lot of questions and made many suggestions. I would be happy to answer any further questions you might have or discuss the budget further. You are always free to contact me by email (bob@bobmezzo.com) or cell (203-217-0876) also.

  14. Bob:

    Hi Jan:

    I agree that HBGC should be as revenue neutral as possible, but it is not a pre-condition of my support for it. There are lots of factors that effect volume of play, and we do not control all of them. No one has really had a good counter, in my opinion anyway, to the fact that none of the other areas of recreation involving the Borough are revenue neutral. We would have no issue publishing a plan of action to increase HBGC revenue and maximize efficiency, but lots of time and effort is expended by our Golf Commission over the years to do so. I know the relatively new pro there has already increased programs and is attempting to reach new constituencies.

    You are correct that most collective bargaining agreements allow for portions or all of overtime to be factored into defined benefit pension calculations. One point to consider, however, is we are starting to have an increasing number of employees on defined contribution plans. Most of the overtime we incur is related to minimum staffing requirements in certain contracts. We do have a substantial amount also during storms and weather-related events. I would not call all of that “emergency”, but it certainly helps to prevent certain problems.

    I do enjoy cutting the grass – very peaceful and calming activity. Hope you are well.

  15. Jan Mizeski:

    Hello Mayor Bob,

    Again thank you for your reply. In conversations with some residents much of what you are saying appears to be true. It is very helpful to the citizens of Naugatuck to understand the details of the issues. Naugatuck lacks a daily newspaper so we are not reading about this every day as we used to. I encourage any way you or the rest of the officials (paid or otherwise) to get this information presented in print or social media. I know you don’t fully embrace social media but to say it didn’t have an impact in the latest Referendum would be an understatement. The town has made some very large decisions this year. Some of which seem troubling. The time to lay the cards on the table is now. Thank You P.S. never forget about what you said about cutting grass. I happen to agree.

  16. Mike w:

    Mr. Mayor
    Thank you for the response, but it sounds like the unions are killing this town. They are made to protect only the workers that are in the program. Not the ones that pay for it. Many businesses I know that joined a union are no more because it drowned them.
    I know I had a lot in there but you did skip the pension you recently handed out? I am sure that is another union agreement? And only helps my point.

    Golf is a relaxing activity as well! Maybe we shall see you out there too?

  17. Bob:

    Hi Jan:

    Good discussion here. I never would argue that social media did not have a strong impact on the last referendum or other public discussions. It is a great way to connect and convey information. I embraced it years ago and have used it significantly on many occasions. My only issue is that I am not on it as much as others, and provide very direct ways (such as my personal cell phone) for residents to contact me.

    I used to let my life be consumed by who said what on many different forums and felt a responsibility to respond to everything immediately. Often I did not even know when communications were directed to me, and still do not. This took precious time away from conversations and interactions with my family, and I made a conscious decision not to be so consumed by it. I will never ignore communications and difficult discussions, but I can not respond to every single post on all the social media sites in real time. Social media is a great tool, but there most be more than simply articulating one’s thoughts on Facebook to make meaningful change.

    I do not know you personally, but you seem to be a good person willing to seek positive change in our community. My “cards” will always be “on the table”, but that does not mean that everyone will always agree or absolve all of us from considering certain facts that would be much more convenient to ignore.

    Best wishes.

  18. Bob:

    Hi Mike:

    I am not suggesting that unions are the cause of all of our problems. Local unions are comprised of individuals who have chosen career paths that are available to everyone. Many are local residents who pay taxes, spend money in our community and raise families of their own. Union leadership has a duty to best represent its membership. If they were leaders of large corporations responsible to shareholders and maximized profit, many would say such leaders are great business persons. I do not advocate scapegoating people who work for a living as the cause of all our problems. The main points of my statements were that making change under are current collective bargaining system in Connecticut is difficult and does not happen quickly.

    I believe the pension you reference is the one awarded at last Tuesday’s (8/5/2014) Board of Mayor and Burgesses meeting. We did provide slight enhancements to the existing defined benefit plan to current employees in exchange for getting new hires on the defined contribution plan (similar to the private sector 401 k), but it paled in comparison to keeping everyone on the defined benefit plan and trying to make incremental changes to it. The employee you reference, who happened to be an exceptional firefighter, would have eventually earned a sizable pensions similar to what was ultimately granted based on collective bargaining agreements previously in place. The slight changes that increased it to some degree are minimal compared with the long-term savings that will be achieved resulting from the switch to the defined contribution plans for new hires.

    As for golf, I rarely find it relaxing based on how horrible I play. I am part of the Thursday afternoon golf league at Hop Brook, but spend most of my time looking for my ball in the woods. Mowing grass is much more relaxing.

    Best wishes to you and your family.

  19. Jan Mizeski:

    Would you consider making this statement about Naugatuck citizens good leadership?

    Min-ion

    :someone who is not powerful or important and who obeys the orders of a powerful leader or boss

  20. Bob:

    Hi Jan:

    It was not an attempt at leadership, but probably a poor choice of words. Mr. Katra made a joke about it, which I actually thought was funny, and seemed to move-on. It does amaze me, however, how indignant some people get when criticized in a public conversation. I have had all kinds of things said to me over the years, but try not to act like some kind of victim. This is the big person table, and having thick skin is important. When one chooses to express their beliefs in public and criticize others, one should also understand that there may be some criticism in return.

    Now I would like to ask you a question about leadership. Would you consider being an elected/appointed official who works for months on a budget, offers little to no concrete proposals to cut the budget, general votes in favor of most of the line items and/or supports increasing some, and then actively supports a referendum to reject the budget for being too high as good leadership? That was my point. If “supporter” or “collaborator” is a more acceptable word to you, so be it. The word, however, does not change the underlying reality that certain individuals representing both parties have demonstrated such behavior.

  21. Tom Duffy:

    Hi Bob,
    just a few questions:

    >How can student enrollment be dropping every year, but the BOE budget keeps going up
    >Why isn’t having Town officials with spouses working in the education system a conflict of interest.
    >Why are we the only town in the area with no Bulk trash pick up, we have to deliver stuff to the Recycle center and pay them to take it. I have a old hot water heater and refrigerator that just won’t fit into my Malibu.
    >When are we just going to bite the bullet and pave Hillside ave, any resemblance to being an historic site is long gone.
    >A quick glance of the towns budget showed quite a few line items with substantial increases over the previous 2 years numbers, some of them could have been frozen at previous levels

  22. Bob:

    Hi Tom:

    I will attempt to answer your questions.

    1. While student enrollment has been dropping, costs do not. There are over fifty teaching positions that have not been replaced in the last five years. About fifteen certified staff members are not being replaced for this coming school year, and about five more non-certified positions are being left vacant. Unfortunately expenses associated with such items as health care costs, utilities, and state and federal mandates continue to increase.

    2. The employment of the overwhelming number of board of education workers is governed by collective bargaining agreements. Once the contract is set, the terms and compensation is established for everyone in the bargaining unit. A conflict of interest exists if a town official was to participate in the contract negotiations and/or vote on the contract. An example would be my wife, who is an administrator who began working in our district before I met her. When the administrators contract is negotiated, I recuse myself from any discussions and abstain when it comes to a vote before the Board of Education. I did the same as a Burgess years ago on the teachers contract when my wife was a teacher.

    3. We used to have bulk pick-up, but it was cut years ago to reduce costs. We actually included bulk pick-up when we solicited bids for privatizing our sanitation operation, but it was cost prohibitive. Copes, the company that collects our trash and recyclables will collect bulk items by appointment for a fee. You can call customer service at 1-877-274-1444 before 4:00 PM on weekdays, or email the company at info@copesrubbish.com to see what the details would entail.

    4. The problem with Hillside Avenue is not just the paving. The entire road needs to be reconstructed, including the curbs and drainage system, and likely the sidewalks as well. I have heard estimates that approach $1 million, which is the main reason it has not been done. I agree that it needs to be addressed, but some still want to preserve the historic nature of the road while others feel its current condition acts to control speed near the school.

    5. There are a number of reasons why various line items fluctuate from year to year. Sometimes we have no control to freeze spending on certain line items due to contractual obligations or state and federal mandates. If you can provide a few specific examples, I would be glad to find the answers for you. Sometimes it requires a bit of research, but I can get the specific answers for you if you give me a bit of time.

    Hopefully I have answered your questions. Best wishes.

  23. Jan Mizeski:

    Hello Mayor Bob,

    Thank You for your answer. As to your question I was in your position on a much smaller scale. This situation arose on more than 1 occasion during my term. It is part of the job and to be expected.

    Regards

  24. Tom Duffy:

    Hi Bob,
    I reviewed the budge like you suggested, and about 20 line items jumped out, don’t worry, I won’t ask about all of them. Couldn’t find the Education budget on line though.

    > 11% increase in DPW budget, thought Privatation was going to save us money?
    > 63% increase in the IT budget?
    > 26% increase in the Debt Service Budget, Is that because its easier to bond then do without.
    > 37% increase in our reserve fund?
    > 500K for GDC Building Maint, most Naugy citizens can’t understand why we bought it in the first place. losing a 100K at the Golf course doesn’t look so bad anymore, at least hundreds of us get to use that.
    > 2.7% increase at the BOE, yet all we hear is all the substantial cuts they already made. sounds out of control to me.
    > what is the 225K for other pension (new line item)
    > 14% increase in contract services? one line item went up 96%.
    > 11% increase in insurance, with a 9% jump in Liability
    > I did notice the significant cuts at the Senior center.
    I guess taking on the elderly is always easiest.

    As far as the bulk pick up, if you don’t have access to a truck, pay to get it down there, and then pay for them to take it. doesn’t seem equitable for residents on a fixed income.

    I can tell you don’t have to travel on Hillside ave to often, you worry about speeding and being historical, we worry more about broken shocks and punctured gas tanks.

  25. Bob:

    Hi Tom:

    The Board of Education budget documents can be viewed on the Board of Education website at the following link:

    http://www.naugatuck.k12.ct.us/Default.asp?PN=DocumentUploads&L=1&DivisionID=5694&LMID=228070&ToggleSideNav=ShowAll

    Technically, the Board of Education has not adopted a budget yet because it does not do so until after the budget is finalized.

    Many of the expenditure items you reference illustrate how easy it is to take a particular line item without any context.

    Privatization of sanitation is saving us money, and will continue to do so in the years to come. While you mention a cost in the DPW budget, you do not reference the savings associated with other sanitation expenses such as workers compensation costs, insurance costs, overtime, gas or motor vehicle repairs or the fact that we would have had to purchase new trucks in the coming years. There is also an offset in that we sold the vehicles.

    I believe the increase you reference in IT relates to the Police Department. That number has been reduced to $50,000.00. The BoE IT director was assisting the Police Department in that area, but the needs of the department were significant. There was a reduction in another area of IT also.

    Debt services increases or decreases depending on when a variety of obligations become due. I posted a budget update months ago that contains a link to the proposed debt service budget, which includes detail on all of the components if you can access the Excel spreadsheet. This is the link: http://www.bobmezzo.com/index.php/2014/05/13/2014-2015-budget-update-5132014/

    We did refinance some bonds this year which would save us about $1.6 million dollars over the term. We also added some of the high school renovation debt service earlier than anticipated so we could lock-in at low rates.

    The Borough took action to purchase the GDC property because it is center of our downtown and the key to downtown revitalization. I wrote a detailed post on the acquisition in 2013, which can be viewed here:

    http://www.bobmezzo.com/index.php/2013/03/28/frequently-asked-questions-regarding-the-acquisition-of-the-general-datacomm-inc-property-3282013/

    The NEDC is currently in discussions with multiple parties on a reuse of the site. Almost all of these discussions are done privately, which is the norm in the development world. There is also is a tenant, the former owner, which remains in possession of the first floor. There is a corresponding revenue line item in the budget.

    Personally I wish residents would take more of an interest in the complexities of downtown revitalization and economic development in general. I enjoy talking about it, but unfortunately get far to few questions. Some seem content to hold true to assumptions that simply are not based in fact or reality. There is actually a solid team of individuals on the NEDC board from government and business that are trying to do good things. Unfortunately it takes time.

    If you subtract the increase in health care costs associated with the BoE, there would have actually been a reduction of about 0.5% to the BoE budget. That is how large the health care increases hit this budget. The results would have been worse if we did not work together with the BoE to combine our efforts, increase employee contributions through negotiations and change carriers three times within the last five years. The reality is the BoE did make significant cuts, and employment will be 20 positions less than the previous year.

    The new line item for other pension employment benefits was added for accounting purposes for more transparency for other post employment benefits or “OPEB”. I believe that this money was budgeted in other places previously, but was specifically identified in this year’s proposed budget. OPEB liabilities are a significant concern for municipalities throughout the country. It is important to understand a town’s post retirement obligations and negotiate contracts accordingly.

    I am sorry, but I can not locate the “contract services” line item you reference. If you can let me know the department, I will check.

    We receive an approximate 33% renewal quote for health benefits from the previous carrier. That is an unbearable figure. Ultimately we reduced the actual increase to about 19%, and used some of our health care reserve to offset the increase. We did change to self-funded workers compensation system, which should produce savings in the long-run.

    The “cuts” at the senior center were actually a consolidation of bus service with the Human Resource Development (“HRD”) non-profit. HRD is not coordinating dispatch from their office and is using the senior center bus in addition to its own. There are some members who want to eliminate the Elderly Program that provide tax credits to senior who volunteer, but I am not one of them.

    The ability of residents to take bulk items to the Recycling Center is a fairly good deal compared to some other communities. It is not perfect and will not accommodate every resident’s particular situation. Free bulk pick-up was eliminated years ago, and I do not see it returning.

    I travel on Hillside with a 2007 minivan that needs shocks enough to know its condition and prefer to take an alternate route if possible. I did not state I was worried about the historical nature of the property or the speed. I only mentioned some of the statements others have made.

  26. Jan Mizeski:

    Hello Mayor Bob,

    I have some questions myself. Is Building 25 part of parcel C (I believe it is)? Has the earth below Building 25 and immediately surrounding it been cleared of all contaminants?

    Thank You

  27. Bob:

    Hi Jan:

    Yes Building 25 is part of Parcel C. All the area around the building itself has been remediated. The demolition would include encapsulating the footprint of the building itself. Since this area is likely to be an intersection for the entire parcel, this should suffice.

  28. Tom Duffy:

    Hi Bob,

    >It was the police dept Contractual Services budget that showed a 14% increase and maintenance Computer went up 96%

    >The Bottom line number for the DPW went up 450K doesn’t that include everything that is charged to that dept.

    >BOE reduced their head count by 20, and are still asking for a $1.6 million increase thats all Healthcare?

    >One of the American dreams is when you get old, you retire sell your house and move someplace warm. First we go through property reevaluation and loose a chunk of that money we were expecting to get. Then the town tells us your worth less, but you have to pay more. Remember its not just the town with Health care costs, its residents have them too.

  29. Bob:

    Hi Tom:

    The maintenance computer account is part of the Police Department’s contractual services section of its budget. The huge jump is cost is explained in my previous post, and explains a good portion of the overall contractual service increase. Most of the other increases in the contractual services section are increases in utility costs and a couple like the school allowance that are part of the collective bargaining agreement.

    With regard to DPW, the answer is no. Such items as health insurance, workers compensation insurance and general liability are in the insurance section. Pensions are in the pension section. The purchase of large capital equipment is in the reserve fund and usually offset by any surplus revenue from the fund balance. We would have had to add a new collection truck this year for a few hundred thousand dollars if we did not privatize. There was an entire fiscal analysis presented earlier in the year regarding the proposals to privatize. I can email it to you if you would like.

    With regard to the BoE, the answer is actually that the increases attributable to the BoE for health care costs were actually greater than the $1.6 million (in the neighborhood of about $2.2 million of for the BoE; and about 3.3 for the BoE plus the municipal employees). The BoE’s current proposed budget would actually be less than the last fiscal year’s budget if not for the increase in health care costs. A portion of the health care reserve fund is being used to offset the impact; a health care reserve fund of which the majority of the dollars came from the BoE.

    I get the frustration you reference. The Borough, however, is not the reason your home lost value. No municipality in the Country can reasonably be blamed for that. Homeowners across the United States suffered massive losses in residential home values, even if they were responsible and did not over-leverage their properties with large and often risky mortgages. We lost 26% of our home values on average in Naugatuck after a time when we became more reliant on residential property values for our tax base. That is devastating to any community.

    If you lost more than 26% like many homeowners in Naugatuck, your taxes went down. If you lost less than 26%, your taxes increased. The loss in property values penalized car owners and business personal property owners as the mill rate, which is really just a multiplier to get to the balancing number, went much higher. If you are the same person on the tax records with the same name, it looks like your house taxes were reduced like our family’s house taxes. Unfortunately the flip side like you mention is that a lot of the equity is gone.

    The Borough did not seek the pain of the most recent revaluation, but it was required to implement it by state law. The last time Naugatuck choose not to revalue, multiple times with the state’s permission, it was a complete disaster.

    Unfortunately costs rise for a municipality also, usually at a greater rate than in someone’s family or the private sector given the rules governing municipal employment and mandates from other levels of government. There is no doubt local government should not do everything possible to limit costs and the impact on taxpayers, but I often feel like many do not realize how much has already been done in that regards. Making real systemic changes that will last and sustain in the future does not happen quickly.

  30. Jan Mizeski:

    Hello Mayor Bob,

    Your posts are proving very informative. By reading your post on GDC I learned the meaning of the term “encapsulated”. I also compared the rent/lease payments GDC is making to the borough and added in the monthly payment they make in lieu of paying taxes for 3 years. For the 80,000 sq. ft. the town is collecting $2.65 per sq. ft. Property at 485 Cherry Street is being offered for $9.39 per sq. ft. 45 Great Hill Road is being offered for $6.00 per sq. ft. Why is the building being rented/leased to GDC for only $2.65 per square foot? If any of my calculations are incorrect please enlighten me. Thank You

  31. Bob:

    Hi Jan:

    Encapsulate from an environmental perspective simply means there might be some bad stuff underground, but if you cover it with a barrier and do not build below ground structures; it will not cause any exposure to people or the air.

    The price for the GDC rent was determined in consultation with the attorney for the NEDC, and obviously in negotiation with officials for GDC. I believe rental payment was actually $2.35 per square foot, but I believe you are adding in the payment in lieu of taxes to get your figure. The company is responsible for the better portion (80% I believe) of most of the buildings utilities.

    It was difficult to get comparable buildings to the GDC structure. Based on his experience, our attorney thought anywhere between $2.00 to $5.00 per square foot was probably appropriate, if my memory serves me correctly. The fact that a company was taking 80,000 square feet, or one entire floor, would normally lower the per square foot price. I would be interested to know how many total square feet are rented at the two examples you provided.

    The other practical factor was the concern over having a completely vacant building with no revenue to offset maintenance expenses. We understood GDC was not in a particularly strong position at the time financially, and wanted to be practical about what the company could pay. We have much higher hopes for the building and the property in the future.

    Thanks again.

  32. Jan Mizeski:

    Hello Mayor Bob,

    485 Cherry Street is 3,065 square feet. 45 Great Hill Road is 10,152 square feet. While I understand the circumstance with GDC’s ability to pay it still seems very low to me. I also looked up rates in Waterbury. Thank You

  33. Bob:

    Hi Jan:

    Thanks for the information. The square footage you reference is relatively small compared to the 80,000 square feet GDC has, and there generally is a discounted rental payment the more a tenant rents for industrial space according to what we have been advised. There were a select few, comparable properties that we used, but I do not remember exactly which buildings. I believe they were in Waterbury or at least the Greater Waterbury area. Have a great night.

  34. Roger Simoes:

    Hi Bob ,
    I am truly tired of my children’s education being threatened by elected officials as the only place to cut cost. This is a simple one, and as you read this keep in mind how many more situations like this are there and then break out the calculator.
    Our street department purchases asphalt for patching holes from O&G in Waterbury . They have to purchase in 1 ton increments. On any given day the plant is busy and two town employees will sit in line for over an hour waiting for mix. I approached two younger employees of the town who had picked up material and went straight to field street to patch. I stuck a temp thermometer in the mix as soon as I got to them. Asked them why they go there and not across the street to Tilcon they responded that their crew leader wants them to go there. They admitted that at times they wait two hours for mix and that the material is hard to work with and most days they end up throwing more than half of it over an embankment somewhere because it’s too cold to use. I pulled the thermometer out and it was 230 degrees( should be a minimum of 320). They were willing to try Tilcon again ( FYI Cocchiola paving who paves our roads for the past 5-6 years uses only Tilcon material and prior to them Tilcon paved the streets of Naugstuck) if there crew leader allowed them. They suggested I talk to Jim myself and show him a picture if the thermometer at 230 degrees. I did and a week later they came to Tilcon two or three times and I spoke personally to the men who got the material and they loved it and wasted none but their crew leader likes going to O&G. Big deal right, well here is the problem, there is never a long wait and if there is the Tilcon guys are told to push the small town truck ahead in line do they can get loaded so the trip should take under 20 minutes not hours of union employees sitting idle in a truck not being productive. 2 Tilcon material is always hot I guarantee it and honor it so little to none will be wasted, if there is waste Tilcon has a place in our yard to recycle material , not illegally dumping over a bank on Andrew mountain. 3. The material is comparable to what we use in town. 4. The most important, Tilcon is the low bidder for VIP state work $5.00 a ton cheaper than O&G for town and state agencies. Do the math, would you overpay for groceries or gas for your own home ?

    Stop threatening the future of Naugatuck and start demanding that the people in charge of our town agencies start supervising and managing their departments as if it were their own business. Demand efficiency and refuse in action and waste. How many more instances like this of mismanagent exist ?? I challenge you and Naugatuck to work harder and leaner and invest in the education of Naugatuck students and families. Thank you for your time and I hope this inspired you and more.

  35. Jan Mizeski:

    Hello Mayor Bob,

    Just an observation that I would like to share with you after reading Roger’s post above. The answer to budget cuts may be in the details. A road in the industrial park is scheduled to be reclaimed instead of milled and repaved. Visible evidence of needed reclamation isn’t there. Reclamation is more expensive than milling and repaving. Be well.

  36. Bob:

    Hi Roger:

    First, I am not the one “threatening the future of Naugatuck” or proposing cuts to education. Quite the contrary, I have advocated for protecting the Board of Education budget from further cuts as it would be less than last year’s amount but for the the health care increases. Several other elected officials have also opposed more cuts that we believe would negatively impact education and the quality of instruction. You may want to learn a bit about who is supporting or opposing various proposals regarding the budget. There are many who are involved with the referendum process who would like to make further cuts to education as well as the municipal budget. If that was not the case, such individuals would not be circulating a separate petition specifically for the education budget.

    Second, I completely respect your passion for your employer and its product. I have asked our Director of Public Works to speak with the employees involved so that he can provide me with some information about what you allege. I believe that both companies are approved state bidders, so there is flexibility in selection.

    You do make a couple assumptions, however, that you take as indisputable facts. You assert that the product from the company at which you work is without a doubt better than the product of the competitor you reference. I am not qualified to judge that, but I would like to hear the reason(s) why we purchase from the competitor rather than your company. Your post leads me to a logical question: If what you state is true, why do other entities wait in line for your competitor’s product? I was informed that years ago there were some complaints about the asphalt we purchased from your company. That certainly does not provide conclusive proof that there was or any indication of its current quality.

    You also insinuate that that our crew leader goes to your competitor to waste time. We certainly would like to know if that is true, and time management and greater efficiency is one of the reasons we are installing GPS systems in our trucks. Your allegation, however, should at least allow a response to see if there are any other reasons for waiting for your competitor’s product.

    Lastly, your comments illustrate a common theme that I have observed during the budget process. Many residents want budget cuts or allege wasteful practices in some departments, but are very protective of others. The philosophy of “Cut the budget, but not department _____” significantly increase the statistical odds of rejecting a budget under the current system. The problem being that not everyone agrees what department ______ is.

    I appreciate your thoughts and would be glad to follow-up if I learn more.

  37. Bob:

    Hi Jan:

    Your example of road paving in the industrial park and the details of the budget reinforces my point. Your statement of “The answer to budget cuts may be in the details” is relatively accurate. It requires us to consider, however, what people know about the details.

    You have stated that “Visible evidence of needed reclamation isn’t there.” Borough officials are relying on a report prepared by a company specializing in municipal road assessment that investigated every road in the Borough using scientific analysis and best practices in the industry. I do not know your background or specific expertise, but the assessment from the qualified company would appear to be the credible source to use when making such decisions. That would certainly hold true in the private sector. If you work in the industry, then I apologize and would be glad to know why your assessment differs from that of the company.

    My point is that the details do matter, but often they reinforce the reason why cuts are not possible. Finance Board and Board of Education members and staff spend months analyzing such details and make informed decisions to the best degree possible. Most of us are willing to discuss them with residents, provided there is an openness to listen and discuss in a factual way. I do appreciate your interest in doing so.

  38. Jan Mizeski:

    Hello Mayor Bob,

    As always thank you for your prompt response. Since I’m not expert in road assessment can you please tell me where I can obtain (preferable electronically) the report for the road improvements? I would like to read this report for myself. I have also obtained expert advice on repair situations which have led me to obtain other expert advice prior to spending money. Thank You again.

  39. Bob:

    Hi Jan:

    I can get that for you. I do not have it on my computer, but I can either email it to you or provide a link (it is a rather large file). Please give me just a bit of time to do so.

    Thank you.

  40. Bob:

    Hi Roger:

    I did learn some information and would be happy to discuss with you. Please feel free to contact me at 203-720-7007 (office) or on my cell (203-217-0876).

    Thank you.

  41. Jan Mizeski:

    Hello Mayor Bob,

    Thank You in advance. My email is jmizeski@sbcglobal.net.

  42. Roger Simoes:

    Hi Bob, At my first management class at Rutger’s University the professor spent 30 minutes explaining why emails should never be used for conversation, only the transfer of factual information and after your reply i remembered why.

    I never stated who wants to cut into the education budget other than elected officials in general so no need to feel that a direct finger pointing is occuring. A referendum is a political right of the people being governed and no one should deny it,although I agree to have one with out an idea of how to make it better is futile.

    I try very diligently to never make assumptions as we all know what that leads to and every fact is disputable, right or wrong.

    Your assumption that i believe that the “crew leader goes to your competitor to waste time” is incorrect. I believe your crew leader is like most of us, comfortable with the same routine and surroundings, familiarities. I am a supervisor of over 80 employees and i have yet to meet a person who intentionally wants to do a bad job or be looked at as a poor employee, it’s not in our human nature to be like that. What I have seen is that with out a full picture of the scope of a job, like the scope upper management has, we may think that “I am doing the right thing for my employer” to be in line because i dont know that there is a better more efficient way to do it. That would be the supervisor or management’s job together with the employees input.

    So back to answer your questions. Back 13+ years ago when Naugy did buy from Tilcon, we were the first company in Connecticut to use recycled asphalt in our mixes. We had no one to lead us as we were one of the first in New England. So we stumbled forward and made several mistakes but took advantage of them and we learned alot. 13 years later we recycle asphalt at all 22 locations in Connecticut and are the leading producer of recycled asphalt on the East Coast ( fact, please refer to the National Asphalt Pavement Association ), as a matter of fact our competitor came to us 2 years ago to ask us about it and see the equipment and process we use. ( They purchased and installed the recycle equipment winter 2013) They did that because we are the best at it and have 13+ years of experience doing it. Thankfully I am an expert in this field and it is the reason I am writing you, i wouldn’t write to you about real estate because i know nothing about it.

    You also asked why we have no lines as the competitor, our competitor has dropped his private sector pricing immensley in comparison to ours ( because of their new found cost savings in recycled asphalt) where as we went after the town and state bid. And this is a fact i hope you are not overlooking because you never mentioned it in your reply and it was the main point I was trying to make. Both companies are VIP bidders but only one of us won the bid, Tilcon at $5.00 a ton cheaper. This is worth repeating, $5.00 dollars a ton cheaper, and the quality of the mix is better than 13 years ago, as we see our competitor making the same mistakes we made and are trying to help them as well.

    Lastly, i am passionate about my work, but I am more passionate about my family, my neighborhood and my town. I did not write this for my company, i write to you as a $10,000.00 a year tax paying citizen and life long citizen of Naugatuck.

    Please dont assume what I think, I know there are many places to cut, i am sure education has some as well as others, but how can you let what is in plain site go by?
    In my opinion, our education budget needs to be left alone, our schools are old, our kids have no texts books to take home so we as parents can’t help them as well with their home work, their after school activities are more important now than ever, the influence of good teachers and coaches is critical. That is my passion…..

  43. Bob:

    Hi Roger:

    I could not agree more with the sentiments you express in your second from last paragraph. Except for paying less in taxes than you do, I feel the same.

    I also agree about assumptions as well, and prefer facts. My post to you was in response to some of the statements you made previously with which I did not necessarily agree nor had all the facts or information from our department’s perspective. I get what you are saying about an employee’s routine and wanting to do the right thing for his or her employer; but that was not the case based on what I was informed. Your comments prompted an internal discussion which was quite positive. I would be glad to discuss it with you and/or have DPW management speak with you at your convenience. My contact information remains above. If you interpreted my comments to be assuming what you think, then I apologize as that was not my intent.

    Thanks again for your thoughts.

  44. Bob:

    Hi Jan:

    The links to the pavement management documents have actually been on our website for some time. Here are the links:

    1. The pavement management program draft report:

    http://www.naugatuck-ct.gov/filestorage/166/264/Naugatuck_Pavement_Report_4-2014.pdf

    2. The pavement management program presentation / overview and summary of findings:

    http://www.naugatuck-ct.gov/filestorage/166/264/Naugatuck_Pavement_Presentation.pdf

    I will email as well.

  45. Jan Mizeski:

    Hello Mayor Bob,

    Thank You for your response. I am asking for the FINAL full detailed copy of the engineering report known possibly as “The Pavement Management Program”
    that the Borough of Naugatuck contracted for. Your link is to a draft and it seems a summary of that. This is not sufficient or what I asked for. Your attention to this matter is deeply appreciated. After all I’m asking about close to $100,000 that I would like to see justified in our spending on one particular roadway accepted by the town. If I have to read this report physically that would be acceptable.

  46. Bob:

    Hi Jan:

    One of the links provided is exactly what you requested. It is a 245 page report that has been on our website for several weeks. It contains an analysis of every road in the Borough, with an empirical rating and recommendation. I have listed it again below:

    http://www.naugatuck-ct.gov/filestorage/166/264/Naugatuck_Pavement_Report_4-2014.pdf

    The other document was just sent as supplemental because it was right next to it on the website.

  47. Jan Mizeski:

    Hello Mayor Bob,

    I have opened up the link that you posted in your original response to me and it states it’s a draft report. I have opened the link that you posted in your last report and it states draft response. If you are finding something different then perhaps there is an issue. I would like to read the FINAL report. Thank You for your attention to this matter.

  48. Bob:

    Hi Jan:

    To the best of my understanding, the draft report was substantially the same as what the final report would be. I have not seen a final report, but unless hearing from me otherwise, please view the draft report as the final report. Thanks.

  49. Tom Duffy:

    Hi Bob

    I do have a question about the BOE budget. How much of a savings would we get if we changed from 15 kids in a class to 20 kids in a class. That means cutting teachers and support staff. With no new revenue streams coming into Naugatuck, Its a reality you will have to address sooner or later,

  50. Rob Burke:

    Tom,

    When is the last time in Naugatuck there was an average of 15 students per class?

    http://images.pcmac.org/Uploads/NaugatuckPublic/NaugatuckPublic/Divisions/DocumentsSubCategories/Documents/Enrollment%20Report_18.pdf

    The smallest class size in all elementary at the end of last year was 16, and the average was over 22 per class. Do you actually suggest we should increase the elementary class sizes?

  51. Bob:

    Hi Tom:

    Rob is correct. We do not have many classes with only 15 students in them. If such classes do exist, they are likely to be electives at the high school or specials. The document linked by Rob lists the class sizes at all the elementary schools (K-4).

  52. Tom Duffy:

    Mr Burke,
    I actually do if thats what it takes. A 2.2 million dollar increase in medical for BOE employees is quite a large jump. and it won’t be dropping anytime soon. When the next contract is negotiated BOE employees feel the crunch or class sizes should rise. In the private sector, if a company is not profitable, RIFs happen and benefits get cut even if backlogs exist meaning the people who stay have to do more.

    Bob,
    Is there a cite that has the history of students per class, and also for the High School.

    Thanks
    Tom

  53. Bob:

    Hi Tom:

    You can go to the Board of Education (“BoE”) website (www.naugy.net) and access all the documents from the last two – plus years that are distributed at the monthly BoE meetings. This link:

    http://www.naugatuck.k12.ct.us/Default.asp?PN=DocumentUploads&L=1&DivisionID=5689&LMID=228050&ToggleSideNav=ShowAll

    should get you to the monthly reports which contain the attendance report that is distributed each month. To go back further, you can contact the BoE directly and I am sure education officials can provide.

    I do not know the answer on class size at the high school, but I can try and find for you. From personal experience, it seems like 25 for regular classes is close to the norm, but it varies depending on the subject. It is a completely different schedule from middle school through high school, and there are more levels of instruction (honors or advanced placement) at the high school.

    From what I have read, high class size has the worst impact on the elementary grades.

    There are a couple issues with your analogy to the private sector. First, there have been over 50 teaching positions not replaced in the past 5 years. Second, I would like to know the number of private sector companies that work under municipal collective bargaining laws or are told what products or services they are forced to provide. Public education will never be a profit-driven endeavor. Public school systems are state and federally mandated to provide certain levels of education to all students, regardless of their abilities, unique needs or home lives. When something is not profitable in the private sector, a company changes its business model, stops making certain products or discontinues service lines, or goes out of business. Public school districts can only make a small portion of such changes.

    Best wishes.

  54. Tom Duffy:

    Hi Bob,
    > I got the impression you and Mr Burke felt I pulled the number 15/1 out of the air. I did a search for Naugatuck ct Number of students. I found a sight called publicschoolsk12.com and looking at all the schools in Naugatuck, Cross Street at 17-1 and Western at 16- 1 all the rest are under 15-1 including the High School at 14-1.

    > So the state feels no responsibility for the Yearly increases to towns Education Budget and we seem to get
    grant money for a lot of stuff, why not a 2.2m increase to medical insurance.

    > Have they tried pooling with other School districts in purchasing medical insurance thats standard practice in the private sector.

    > The number of students are dropping, yet there’s a 11.26% increase for Social Workers?

    > You say we lost 20 people, the why are the cost of pensions gone up almost 9%.

    > whats the 310K increase for capital outlay?

    > I thought the astro turf was going to save money, why the 300% increase in NHS field maint

    Tom

  55. Bob:

    Hi Tom:

    The site you reference does not accurately reflect class size in Naugatuck Public Schools. First, the information is from the 2009 – 2010 school year, but was not likely accurate then either. There is a difference between the number of students in a classroom and the number of students v. certified staff in the entire school. It is likely that the site simply divides the student population by the total number of teachers in a particular school. That does not account for guidance counselors, social workers, specials teachers (i.e. art and gym). Beginning at the intermediate schools, students begin to rotate classes more, so class size will vary to a greater degree; but not as low as you are stating for the overwhelming number of classes. The disclaimer at the bottom of the website states that site does not verify the information.

    The state has kept Educational Cost Sharing (“ECS”) dollars the same for the past several years. Naugatuck has received additional dollars in recent years called “Alliance” funds. Such funds, however, have to be used for new programming and staff costs associated with new programming. The state must approve each Alliance District’s plan before funds are spent. While there has been talk of increasing ECS funding, you would need to speak with the folks in Hartford about why it has remained flat.

    It is difficult to pool medical insurance across multiple school districts because there are different bargaining units with different plans and different sets of retirees. I am not sure if it has been done before, but can check.

    Social workers are certified teachers, and I know that there were positions reclassified from one title to another that actually resulted in a savings. It is difficult to analyze percentage changes in any one particular line item without context.

    The pension change you reference relates to the way our actuary advised us to account for that particular line item. I would need to check on the details, but my understanding is that such amount was in the budget previously, but accounted in a different account.

    All the capital outlay detail is located on page 148 of the budget detail link. Here it is for your reference:

    http://www.naugatuck.k12.ct.us/Download.asp?L=1&LMID=228070&PN=DocumentUploads&DivisionID=5694&DepartmentID=&SubDepartmentID=&SubP=&Act=Download&T=1&I=362193

    The artificial surface at the high school does save money on maintenance. Such surfaces usually require, however, a replacement of the carpet in approximately 8 – 12 years. The $40,000.00 amount represents an attempt to put away some money towards such replacement now so that future taxpayers will not have to bear the brunt of the cost all at once. Unfortunately it was one of the items which we suggested be cut after the first referendum. The baseball and softball fields are not online yet, so there has also been increased costs to use Breen Field as a result.

    Please note that the Board of Education has not formally adopted a budget yet, as it technically has to wait until the entire budget is in effect. That will likely take months currently.

    Have a great day.

  56. Tom Duffy:

    Hi Bob,
    How many unions does the town and Board of Education deal with? I know its quite a few. Have you tried sitting down with them and ask what they could do to get us through this process? You referenced contractual obligations many times on this blog, if they work with you, they can solve the problems, and get good press for a change. There is a lot of people who think the unions have out lived there usefulness. You said the rise in healthcare was the biggest rise in the budget, the voters know that at are living that, why should town employees not be affected.

    Tom

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