I would like to offer the following response to West Haven Mayor Rossi’s letter.
The mayor is correct when she indicated that it was the prior administration’s bonding of West Haven’s $16 million deficit in 2017 that triggered state review by the Municipal Accountability Review Board, also known as MARB.
But that is about the only thing in this regard that the mayor and I agree on. We have a clear difference of opinion as to how she should have managed our city’s finances. From that point on and, because of this type of short sightedness, that led me to my decision to run for mayor.
The first thing the MARB asked for when it came to West Haven was a five-year financial plan from the mayor. After 10 months of trying, the mayor was not able to do her job and put together a comprehensive professional plan with structural changes and long term vision. Instead, West Haven’s taxpayers had to foot the bill to the tune of $125,000 to pay an outside consultant to do the job for her. This plan called for a tax increase in every year for five years. This was a plan the mayor agreed with, endorsed, and then submitted to the State of Connecticut.
Once the mayor submitted this five-year plan to the state, the City of West Haven received the first installment of the bailout in the amount of $8 million. The mayor used the $8 million to say she “turned the city around.” and that we now have a surplus due to her management. However, the MARB has repeatedly pointed out the obvious to her, which is that West Haven would not have a surplus if it wasn’t for the bailout. But because the mayor is more focused on the election-year spin than a positive relationship with the state, she continues to attack the hand that feeds US! She has actually engaged in a public relations campaign against the M ARB, stating that she is the one turning our city around. The result? The state has pulled back $2 million in funding. And that’s why supplemental bills went out in June.
Now as we look towards next year’s budget, the mayor has now asked the state to allow her to rely on the funding from The Haven project. WHAT FUNDING? WHAT PROJECT? WHAT PROGRESS? You do not have to be a CPA to see that this project is stalled, and that the state, recognizing this, is hesitant to allow West Haven to rely on funding not yet in hand.
The bottom line is this: There is only one way out of this hole and that is through growing our city’s grand list through economic development. The mayor to date has not introduced one new economic project and hasn’ t done much at all to move along the projects already in the queue. There are no new revenue drivers to the table. NONE. The only suggestion the mayor made is to increase the price of beach stickers.
We need someone who can get to the truth about The Haven; someone who can introduce new ideas; and someone who can manage a professional relationship with a State board giving us sixteen million dollars.
Just wanted to thank longtime contributor Dan Shine for the wonderful article he wrote as a tribute to his father. It brought tears to my eyes, and I’m sure I’m not alone in my reaction to Shine’s words. I lost my own father much too early, but like Robert Shine, he, too, was a child of the Depression, a veteran of WWII, and a man of many talents who dearly loved his family.
When my dad passed away, I, too, like “the boy” in Shine’s article was there, holding his hand, and telling him that he was “my hero.” Thanks to the eloquence and tender feeling in Shine’s words, I was able to relive that moment as I read the article–a powerful, bittersweet reminder of how important and irreplaceable a good father can be in one’s life.
Thank you, Dan, for writing such a wonderful piece, and thank you for publishing it.