Planning to submit the first budget of JG2 to the City Council on Monday, Mayor Joe Ganim is still trying to close what financial officials assert is an inherited $20 million budget deficit. As a result, Ganim has directed about 50 discretionary appointees to give back two weeks pay covering the last three months of the current fiscal year and the one that begins July 1. He will also be asking municipal unions to work with him to achieve millions more in savings via unpaid furloughs or in lieu of that concessions that achieve the same. Also on the table is “an early retirement incentive program to all eligible city employees.”
Mayoral spokesman Av Harris says Ganim has set an example by giving up two weeks pay, but appointees may give back the two weeks over the next 15 months. City officials have not publicly announced how deep they’ve cut into the election-year budget inherited from the Finch administration but it could very well be part of the deficit will be carried over to the next budget year.
Officials have been tight-lipped about the details of the coming budget, preferring to share briefing information with council members on Monday. The budget will be referred to the council’s Budget and Appropriations committee where the real work of reviewing the proposed spending plan takes place. Ganim’s proposed budget will be impacted by the revaluation of city property kicking in for the July 1 budget year.
Finance officials says taxpayers will experience a mixed bag of some taxes staying the same, some going up and some down. The mil rate for the current budget year is roughly 42. Overall, say finance officials, the city’s revalued grand list will be about 15 percent lower. Irrespective of any potential tax hit for homeowners, one piece of good news for taxpayers will come in the form of lower automobile taxes. The Connecticut legislature passed a law that creates statewide uniformity of car taxes, capping the tax rate on cars at 32 mils. The state will reimburse the city for the revenue loss as a result of the lower mil rate on car taxes.
By city charter regulation, Ganim must submit the budget to the City Council no later than Tuesday. The council will meet Monday night. The budget committee is scheduled to meet April 11. It will spend the next month reviewing the budget, interviewing department heads, conducting public hearings and tinkering changes. Generally what occurs on the committee level is ratified by the full council which will set a final mil rate in June.
Statement from Ganim:
“The fiscal reality my administration inherited has forced our city government to make some very difficult choices,” said Mayor Ganim. “The bottom line is we need to achieve some real savings and reduce our personnel costs. Those in my administration – myself included – are already giving up some of their salary to help balance the budget. We will also be offering some incentives for longtime city employees to retire. These are good faith efforts to cut spending in a responsible way, and my message to organized labor is one of partnership. We are all in this together. My appointed staff is giving up real dollars, and therefore I will be asking for concessions from our partners in collective bargaining units as well.”