Harkins: Town needed financial stability

Mayor John Harkins

Mayor John Harkins

The following is from Mayor John Harkins.  

As you may know, the Town of Stratford is required to pass a budget no later than May 12 each year in accordance with our Town Charter. As mayor, it is my job to submit to the Town Council a responsible operating budget for the upcoming fiscal year; it is then the Town Council’s responsibility to adopt a budget by the mandated deadline. This process has always been followed and the Town has never been without a budget. This year, however, a budget was not adopted by the Town Council prior to the start of the new fiscal year on July 1.

As mayor, I have a fiduciary responsibility to you and our town. My job is to ensure that you and your neighbors continue to receive services from your local government, whether it is fire or police protection, the use of our many parks, the benefit of social services, or our education system. It is also my job to guard our town’s reputation and to ensure financial stability for the taxpayers. Regrettably, the failure by the Town Council to comply with the Town Charter has placed the Town of Stratford in an unprecedented situation.

On the morning of Monday, July 3, the Town Council met once again to address this very serious situation. Given the failure to adopt a budget by July 1, the charter mandated that the Town Council, with my approval, appropriate funding for each municipal department necessary to cover expenses until a budget is adopted. Under this scenario, required by the charter, departmental budgets would remain at the same level of funding as last year’s budget in addition to contractual increases and repayments of loan obligations. This step was necessary by the Town Council to avoid a shutdown of Town Hall, and all other departments and functions, due to a lack of revenue, or operating funds.

Unfortunately, the Town Council once again abdicated its responsibility under the Town Charter and failed to adopt the necessary spending measure.

In one final effort, the Town Council met on the evening of July 5 to adopt an annual budget for the Town. Once again, the Town Council adjourned without adopting a budget or a tax appropriation ordinance, leaving the town in a position to run out of money at the beginning of August. Such a scenario would have a devastating impact on our town which would ultimately hurt the taxpayers, both in the near and distant future.

As mayor, I refuse to allow our town to shut down. We must provide police, fire and emergency medical services for all residents, and we must educate our children. Therefore, in an effort to prevent such a scenario due to a lack of required action by the Town Council, and on the advice from our Town Attorney, I have asked our tax office to issue tax bills for the fiscal year which began July 1, 2017. As referenced earlier, these bills are based on last year’s budget in addition to any necessary contractual increases, resulting in an effective mill rate of 39.97.

Again, this is not the town’s mill rate for the 2018 fiscal year — this rate may only be set by the council upon adoption of an operating budget. The mill rate used in the calculation of your tax bill is merely what is required by and mandated by the charter given the current emergency fiscal situation. It should be noted that each of my three proposed budgets would have resulted in a lower mill rate than is reflected in the tax bills, which the inaction of the council has now thrust upon Stratford residents.

The time for politics — the proposal and passage of phony budgets with artificial, and in some cases, illegal “cuts” to line items — has long passed. I implore the council to pass a budget that funds all of our town’s obligations and does not imperil the town’s fiscal health or negatively impact our children’s futures.  

Once again, I take the oath I took as mayor, and the job’s responsibilities, very seriously. That is why I have chosen to act where the Town Council has not. In doing so, I hope that municipal departments, and the services they provide, may continue without reduction or interruption in the absence of a budget. It is my hope that the Town Council will eventually pass a budget, and I will continue to provide my input and experience in the process.

About author

By participating in the comments section of this site you are agreeing to our Privacy Policy and User Agreement

  • Trevor

    Some people think that stability means having a super majority on the Council that are just rubber stamping puppets that can’t think for themselves and just do what the mayor says. In the past 8 years there has been a tax increase every year. How many other cities & towns in CT had this? Even Bridgeport didn’t raise taxes this year. Which brings up another point, Mayor Ganim did not sign a budget stating he was waiting to hear about State aid yet Bridgeport mailed out tax bills with the same mill rate as last year, so why didn’t this happen in Stratford?

    • David Myers

      It seems that you should move to Bridgeport then. As a new resident there, you will also learn that their town does not operate under the same charter… which, in Stratford, calls for taxes equal to the prior year plus any increases in obligations (which were approved by this council). Please don’t be ignorant. Thanks.

  • Alta Vista

    Can one ask if this advice from the Town Attorney is of the same quality as the advice previously received that claimed the taxpayers of Stratford could not hold a referrendum against the Mayor’s proposed sale of the WPCA?nnAnd if the Town Council is abdicating their responsibility as claimed, what exactly do the Mayor’s repeated vetoes mean? Where once there was democracy, there now rules fiscal dictatorship at Town Hall. nnTaxes must always be rising. If the Council doesn’t agree, Mr. Harkins and Ms. DaPonte will make it so by taxing you in lieu of decision-making or compromise. That’s dictatorship, pure and simple.

    • David Myers

      You are either Trevor, writing under a lousy pseudonym, or you are “drinking the same coolaid.” It’s funny how a court case was decided one way, so you interpret that as a victory for your beliefs every time … that’s just what they are, you know, your beliefs. And by the way, that bad ruling by a judge – which is what it was – is the reason why we are in this mess. The truth is that no one knows the results of pending litigation on this issue (other than Ms. Antezzo wasting more taxpayer dollars on court fees … like her skating rink and other failed endeavors). But I would venture to guess that a judge would uphold the clear language of the charter. I also doubt that a judge would allow the town to shut down (meaning no police, fire, senior services, vitals department, community services, closed parks and beaches, etc) like you apparently wish would happen. Stop trying to damage our town. Like these six council members, you are part of the problem.

      • Alta Vista

        First, it is not the taxpayers criticizing local government that are damaging Stratford. Local government is taking care of that all by itself, thank you very much.nnSecond, I think you should support your claim that the failure of the sale of a major town asset u2013 the WPCA u2013 at substantially under-cost is the reason for the current fiscal plight in town.nnAs far as I am aware you are the only person in Stratford making this claim.

        • David Myers

          So, the WPCA vote was unanimous then? And where in the world do you get the time to consult with over 52,000 residents? I’m calling you out on that claim. Also, I did not say your “criticisms” were damaging the town; your support of shutting down the town is! As for the WPCA claim that I made, I will happily work on supporting it for you. Maybe in exchange you would consider posting your actual name? I doubt your BC shows “Alta Vista.”

          • Alta Vista

            In a democracy the majority rules, we don’t keep voting till we get a unanimous decision.nnThe federal government has shut down entirely several times over the past 20 years. When I last looked America was still standing.nnOne has to wonder why DM is so eager to raise your taxes?nnNot even the Mayor, nor Beth DaPaonte nor anyone I have read or spoken to says that this current fiscal problem is due to the failed sale of the WPCA. You’ve got quite a row to hoe to make that one work…nnFinally, your straw man argument fails on dishonesty, like all straw man arguments. nnIf I never claimed I spoke to 52,000 people (only some of whom are taxpayers) you can’t…oh, but why bother? You’re not interested in rational discussion.

          • Allan DeRosa

            Alta, if you never spoke to all residents, how can you claim what you claimed? You look silly, my friend. Don’t run from it, 0put on your big boy pants and admit you lied.

          • Alta Vista

            It’s not that everyone who posts here is angry, ignorant and desperate for any attention whatsoever… but as the Reverend said to the Burlesque Artist, if the shoe fits, take it off!

  • Roger Simms

    Sorry mayor the only one who abdicated their responsibility is you. Your lack of leadership and honesty is what created the current situation.– you look like a total fool putting out these bs press releases.

    • David Myers

      Roger, you are entitled to your opinion, but not your facts. You want to call Harkins a leaderless, dishonest person, how about you substantiate it with facts? Don’t tell us (your opinions), show us (factual evidence). I challenge you. And while you’re at it, substantiate what is “nonsense, lies, or exaggeration” about this release? I’ll be waiting for your response, and until you do, you are the only one who will look like a “total fool.”

      • Ms. Pagan

        David Myers, nIt’s pretty clear how brown your nose is and how far up our corrupt mayor and town council’s behind it is. Maybe you should fact check. I showed up when our dubious mayor failed to reschedule a vote to expand expand eminent domain for his cronies on a night when the whole state was closed for inclement weather.. What Harkins is doing is blatant gangster tactic, give him what he wants or he will give you an offer you can’t refuse. Disgusting. And so is your defense if it.

        • Allan DeRosa

          The Mayor saved the Town, bud. Had he not taken action – what he is empowered to do – the town would have closed. Do you not understand the ramifications? The best part? You think he wants to raise taxes. Why? Where is your logic? His budget is responsible and even had cost savings, which, thanks to Manus and circus, were not realized when the Town issued tax bills – again, to allow the Town to operate. Even more: if he wanted to play politics, don’t you think it would have been easier to shut the Town down? Think about it. Imagine a fire that isn’t put out, or a heart attack victim that has no EMS response. Or a street unplowed, or Short Beach closed. The blow back would be 1000-fold on the council; why would the Mayor care, he is not running again… you see, it can only be deduced that he is the only responsible adult in the room, taking his job seriously, and guiding the town safely through unchartered water. You and your friends are nothing more than the icebergs he is trying to avoid.

          • Trevor

            THE MAYOR SAVED THE TOWN????? What Kool-aid are YOU drinking David. He has raised taxes in ALL 8 years of office. You’re nothing but a brown nose troll plant.

  • Lorraine Cecile Benoit Calzett

    Stop paying your friends six figure plus salaries with no experience and non deserving while they do nothing to advance the welfare of this town or its citizens .The town clerk makes over double what is standard and customary. Its this way a cross the board here. 23 percent increase in funds for BOE while student population has decreased by hundreds? do you think we are stupid. i think you are the one who lost your mind You line your friends and town attorneys pockets with our tax money while we struggle to make ends meet, and then blame the messenger., you should be ashamed of yourself Mayor Harkins!

    • David Myers

      Lorraine, please don’t blame your “struggle to make ends meet” on others; you are responsible for your individual successes and failures. Doing so it both petty and wrong. Also, enough with the silly “friends” comments. I read this on here all the time, yet no one substantiates it. So I challenge you: who are these friends? Don’t just name positions or people. I want factual evidence backing up your claims. It seems you are simply bitter about people who have achieved success where you have not. Maybe you are simply jealous. I don’t know.

      • Lorraine Cecile Benoit Calzett

        You are laughable

        • Allan DeRosa

          You are laughable. You cannot spell and your writing lacks proper grammar. Sad. But by all means, keep commenting on how well you understand a $217 million budget!

          • Lorraine Cecile Benoit Calzett

            Wow stand up for the man

    • Kenny

      Lorraine there are plenty of high paying jobs with good benefits in the Registrars Office maybe you should work there

      • Lorraine Cecile Benoit Calzett

        I know I offered to do it for free !

        • Allan DeRosa

          Mrs. Long Name! What a joke! Anyone who is good at something does not do it for free. Sorry, it’s not charity. That being said, I think we know how good you would be… you would probably “trip” and sue the town, you know, like some of the council has sued the town and BOE. Or is your skill set and background a perfect match? Maybe like that guy Posner, who picks on people at town hall, yet his qualifications are “masseur.” What a joke this council is.

          • Lorraine Cecile Benoit Calzett

            Like mynMother said Allan, to quote someone famous as she liked to. Better to be silent and thought of a foolnThan to open one’s mouth and remove allnDoubt !!!!nnI could really use a massage after a day of giving free patient care .scott offers much more than you. oh People reallynAppreciate that free stuff. those On fixed incomes , the dying and the lonely, people you’dnKick to the ground and blame Allan !!

      • Allan DeRosa

        You sound jealous too, pal. Why do you hate town hall employees so much? These people work hard, and for you!

      • Trevor

        Good one Kenny, I’m sure that is where David works now.

  • Derek Adams

    See you in court, John!

    • Allan DeRosa

      See you in court, Derek!

  • Roger Simms

    David Myers I expressed my opinion, never stated any fact. if you don’t like what I wrote too bad.

    • Lorraine Cecile Benoit Calzett

      Me too but there are facts . Read what is customary and reasonable and the job descriptions and experience requirements for positions . David Myers is laughable . We as citizens have a right to question why a40k job is paid 98k in this town whynMedia professional stay at home moms make more than almost all of our fellow citizens in a field they have no background in and why pals have had high level jobs and why someone needs two people as assistants with six figure salaries in a town the size of which most don’t even have one oh I won’t even touch the back door

    • Allan DeRosa

      I guess that makes you part of the problem, pal. You spew your opinions as if they are fact. My opinion is that you are clueless and ignorant. To quote you: “if you don’t like what I wrote too bad.”

  • Thayer

    I live in what I thought was a wonderful north end community, in the last year alone three homes in my neighborhood were either sold, for closed or the family walked away. This seems to be a trend in Stratford where life long residents are leaving our town because of our politics. Struggling working class families and fixed income elderly can not afford to stay. And with the case of my neighborhood, the people moving in seem to be making these one time single family homes Into muti family homes. Stratford is on the verge of a major change if you haven’t noticed and pushing more and more people out will only hurt in the end!!!nWelcome to Stratford, Bridgeports newest expansion!!

    • David Myers

      Over generalize much? Maybe those three home owners were irresponsible with their finances? Much like the six holding our town hostage…

      • Thayer

        No they were not irresponsible, just your average middle class working families. Actually the one family that just walked away was a Stratford School teacher!! Don’t worry it will be coming to a neighborhood near You!

    • Allan DeRosa

      Thayer, maybe they wanted to move away from YOU. I know I would want to…

      • Thayer

        If you currently live in Stratford YOU are my neighbor. friend.

  • Lorraine Cecile Benoit Calzett

    Sad that there are people like Allan on here. I have peripheral vision issues but you Allan are just an ignorant rotten person. I just happened to review the budget and cut millions in waste for harkins highly paid employees alone. InMay not be able to see well on a phone but I’m smart enough to know that you are a moron.

    • Alta Vista

      You know what I like Lorraine? How people attack you for having a long name. Cutting right to the heart the issue!nnAnd the respected financial analyst who said he would prove the town’s current fiscal crisis is because we didn’t sell the WPCA plant for pennies on the dollar.nnAnd the folks who have no sympathy for human beings who just happen to earn less than they do.nnThey all remind me of the overweight men I see racing around town on their motorcycles with no helmets and cut off jeans. nnMy friend, the emergency room doctor, refers to them as donor-cycles.

      • Lorraine Cecile Benoit Calzett

        Is that Alta vista

        • Alta Vista

          Yes, it is. I had an upbringing where I was taught you shouldn’t judge people by the length of their name or the size of their bank account. I think the people who attack you for your name are ridiculous. Sorry, if that was not clear.

© HAN Network. All rights reserved. Stratford Star, 1000 Bridgeport Avenue, Shelton, CT 06484

Designed by WPSHOWER

Powered by WordPress