Endorsed democratic Mayoral Candidate Nancy Rossi, a certified public accountant, warned the Mayor about the $8 million hole in his current budget throughout the process.
“The mayor was warned by me and others back in March that he was making a huge mistake by adding an extra $8 million of state aid into his budget. Not only did the mayor put the $8 million of uncertain state aid in the budget, he spent every last dime! New positions were created and multi thousand dollar raises were in the budget. No cutting was done by the mayor or the City Council, and in the end, the mayor’s allies didn’t vote for this fiscal disaster, the budget didn’t receive the seven required votes for passage and went in by default!
I continually warned the mayor and the City Council at meetings that including additional state revenue in the budget was unrealistic and irresponsible. As a result of the ignored warnings, we are now faced with yet another multi-million dollar budget deficit requiring a state bailout and a state review board coming into West Haven. My understanding is at this time this is only a proposal and may or may not be passed, is there a contingency plan? The last time a review board came to West Haven our taxes nearly doubled.” said Rossi.
“I understand that the mayor needs the state bailout to balance his budget but it is not that simple. The bottom line is the money from the state is temporary and does not solve the long-term problem. The $8 million bailout from the state will not be permanent, my understanding is it’s a one time fix and only gives the city time to balance its budget, live within its means and become fiscally responsible. The truth is that West Haven has to start doing business differently and our elected leaders need to take responsibility and become accountable for their actions. The city cannot continue to spend money it doesn’t have!
The biggest problem is that the mayor does not understand financial statements or budgets and this has led to unbalanced budgets every year since he has taken office. The mayor spends the taxpayer’s money recklessly and because of this has doubled the general fund budget deficit. Our city has the only negative budget reserve ($16 Million), in the state and is ranked with the 2nd-lowest bond rating in Connecticut just above Hartford. West Haven cannot continue on this path,” added Rossi.
“West Haven will not be successful and thrive until we create a culture of fiscal responsibility and get our fiscal house in order. I am the only candidate with the necessary financial expertise to lead our city out of this financial downward spiral! It will take the tough business decisions that I am willing to make if elected in November,”concluded Rossi.
The idea that the state is “coming into West Haven” and taking over our finances in any way is completely false. The Municipal Advisory Review Board is exactly that, an advisory board. They do not make decisions for the city or have any actual control over our finances. This board is very similar to the Municipal Finance Advisory Commission which West Haven has been part of since 2005.
While this plan is still only a proposal, I will gladly listen to advice from financial experts if it means West Haven being made whole. This $8 million is crucial to ensuring that our students get the education they deserve. If Nancy doesn’t want to take this money, then what would her plan be to address the situation?
I would ask that instead of sitting on the sidelines throwing stones, Nancy actually talked about what her specific solutions would be for the issues our city faces. Repeating that you’re a CPA over and over is not a solution. What would she do to actually address this situation if she doesn’t want this additional state aid? Raise taxes? Cut services for public safety or the elderly? Reduce education funding? She talks about “making tough decisions” but what does that actually mean?
Knowing that the state budget was uncertain, we have taken multiple proactive steps to save the city money just in the past year. We renegotiated our health insurance plans saving the city about $1 million a year, renegotiated our energy plan saving us about $600,000 per year, and we have left many positions unfilled throughout the city. These are specific actions that actually help our city as opposed to empty rhetoric which accomplishes nothing.
Saying you’re going to make tough decisions while you don’t hold any public office is easy. Actually coming up with specific plans and actions to address the difficult situations our city faces is not. West Haven already has multiple financial advisors and CPA’s contributing to our city. Does Nancy also think the Mayor needs to know how to drive a plow or pave a street?
The fact is we are closely monitoring the situation with the state budget just like every other city and town in Connecticut. My administration and our state delegation will do whatever we need to do to make sure our education system is made whole and the city budget is balanced at the end of the fiscal year.