Slashing services the only option

The choice that our town leaders face is clear: they can either slash education more deeply or they can dump long-established services that town residents value.

Today’s story in The Hartford Courant devotes too much space to debunking the misleading numbers used by the West Hartford Taxpayers Association — old news, guys! — and not enough to what’s in store next.

But we do learn from the story that “the council will have to look to eliminate or reduce things that are in the budget, such as town services. ‘This is not something you can address adequately by trimming,’ [Mayor Scott] Slifka said. ‘We’re looking at wholesale service reductions.’
“Officials said they are considering eliminating the town’s vacuum-truck leaf pick-up service and instead requesting that residents place bagged leaves at the curb for pickup.
“Officials expect to have suggested reductions by the end of the week, and the council expects to adopt a new budget at its next meeting on June 26.”

I’m fine with dropping the vacuum trucks. They make a heckuva racket anyway.

What else can we do to save money on the municipal side of the budget? The schools can’t take more cuts.

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6 Comments

Filed under budget, News, referendum, Scott Slifka, town council, Town government, West Hartford

6 responses to “Slashing services the only option

  1. WH Alum

    I think everyone who cares about our educational system should flood the BOE and Town Council with letters to limit the educational cuts. I still like the idea posted on the other thread to start with what we have now in our schools, factor in the necessary increases, and then see what is left over to add new initiatives, if any.

    I can handle bagging my leaves… and there has to be a few more “fluffy” luxuries we have in there that we can give up. Maybe cut back on the flower pots. Don’t get me wrong, they make our town beautiful, but they certainly are not necessities. Maybe they can get more donations from nurseries and volunteers to do plantings.

  2. EJ

    Get the damn money that the State owes the town for ECS.
    Lobby our Federal reps to bring home some cash for MDC
    Lobby the State on binding arbitration and unfunded mandates, the town should sue the State if it has to.

    Maybe the Council should start thinking outside the box, to save the town rather than their political careers

  3. JTS

    EJ – are those your specific suggested cuts? Let’s review your action steps:

    1. Get
    2. Lobby
    3. Lobby
    4. Sue

    Ooh! How bold! We could use more leaders like you in town. And “think outside the box?” What an insightful contribution! I missed not hearing that phrase, it’s like being back in 2000 all over again. And politicians are self serving boobs? My god you just might be a prophet.

    I hope you’re not keeping your wisdom contained to this blog, go and tell it on the mountain. Avon Mountain I guess.

  4. My, my. Only a few days past the vote, and people are already getting nasty with each other. There’s nothing wrong with humor and wit, but can we make counterpoints on here without directing insults at one another? It weakens the discussion.

    I’m disappointed with the cancelling the leaf truck suggestion. It seems that the first things to go are the things that make sense – things that homeowners use – like the leaf truck. As annoying as the sound might be (and actually I don’t mind it because it warns me to get my rear in gear and get it done), the leaf truck keeps the town roads clean and let’s not forget – safe… the thought of a thousand bags tearing open on the streets, and blowing everywhere won’t be great for road conditions. At least the trucks clean up a majority portion of the mess.

    Curious irony, whdad, yesterday’s post was about planting leaf bearing trees which we all seemed to support – including myself. I guess if we plant ’em, we’ll have to rake all those leaves and put them into brown bags. They must be thrilled over at Home Depot about that. How would public way streets with these types of trees be raked up/maintained?

    Speaking of trash/recycle pick up. Is the Paine’s thing a done deal? Are we stuck with the $85 barrels that limit the trash you can put out? We are really getting hosed with this idea. So far its been higher taxes and less service as the standard anyway. Is this due to poor bidding practices? Is this part of our problem?

    And keeping a week’s trash around for another week for the next pick up – as the town suggests (indirectly) in its pdf isn’t the brightest suggestion in the world. Obviously we should be reducing our trash – a noble thought, but if you have it – after a birthday party or summer cookout, or whatever – the town expects you to hang on to it because its beyond the limit. Doesn’t really make sense.

    And the barrels are a bear for older folks to handle. I might have to help a few of my neighbors each week.

  5. EJ

    Speaking of the trash, if leaf vacuuming is dropped and leaves go out in bags, who’s going to pick them up?

    The Town/Paines have already announced that if it’s not in the can it won’t be picked up, so will they have to hire another service to pick up the bags?

    As to my other comments, of course other cuts will have to be made but is there some objection to trying to bring in moneys due the town? or from the Fed level?

    We appear to be paying the Town’s corporate council nicely, if the State can sue the Feds over NCLB, why can’t the Town sue the State. $35-45million is not chump change! Or are those on the Council more concerned with not making waves and protecting their political careers.
    the Feds can send $250mill for bridges to nowhere, but our reps can’t get funding for a sewer project.

  6. JTS

    King and EJ – sorry for the tone of my previous comments, I guess I’m getting as frustrated w/ this whole process as anyone else. I’m willing, as are most to give our elected officials the benefit of the doubt on these issues. Their political careers, more often than not end in either defeat or their retirement w/ a handshake on community TV and a photo in the WH News, it’s not like they’re getting paid piles of money for their service. Having said that, residents who are concerned could and should hold their feet to the fire at all times, and the more constructive, concrete suggestions elected officials get, the better the end result will be. It is problematic however when those who are allegedly fighting for taxpayers maintain an alienating stance w/ elected officials and then go so far as to publish lies to advance their cause. I don’t think the budget was crushed b/c of the tradewinds ad, but I, and many of my family and neighbors lost all respect for the leaders of that group for having resorted to such ham fisted tactics. So now what? You have an election result that clearly shows major concerns about the budget, but in the process the leaders of the taxpayers assoc lost all credibility w/ the voters and town officials. Wonderful. If there is a person in town who wants to lead on the tax issue because of the issue and not to get their name in the paper, residents will support that person. If there is a person in town who can engage in a productive, respectful dialogue with town leaders and staff, residents will support that person. If you don’t meet either of those two criteria, stay on the sidelines, please, for the sake of the taxpayers.

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