Category Archives: budget

Vacuuming up the leaves

Is there anything more ridiculous than the West Hartford Taxpayers Association?

It demands that we cut, cut, cut and then, when cuts are made, it screams NO! NOT THAT!

For Judy Aron, its vice president, to tell The Hartfor Courant that eliminating curbside leaf¬† vacuum truck pickup is “a direct hit on our senior citizens” is both silly and stupid.

To use it as justification for seeking another budget vote is so stunningly obtuse that I can’t believe even this group could make the argument.

First off, the vacuum pickup is a luxury that most towns don’t do. We’re constantly told by people like Aron that we can’t afford these extra anymore, but when one is cut, she howls. Give me a break.

Even more than that, though, is the simple reality that the service should be stopped. Why should the town go around sucking up leaves? It’s far better that they get bagged and hauled off instead of blowing all over the neighborhood, clogging up storm drains, and presenting potentially deadly piles for children to hide in IN THE STREET. Plus I won’t miss the whirring noise of the damn things on otherwise delightful autumn days.

Anyway, Judy, your credibility is shot now.

The town made a reasonable decision on how to save some money without hurting the community. It’s a harship for some, sure, though I don’t think the elderly are taking a bigger hit than anyone else on it. Perhaps it’s just that you want the cuts to hurt only the children?




Filed under budget, education, News, Schools, town council, Town government, West Hartford

The budget debacle

There’s something seriously wrong if taxpayers have gunned two straight budgets by wide margins.

So what is it?

One could argue that the problem is that town leaders are simply trying to spend more money than residents are willing to support. This clearly has some truth to it, but it’s simplistic.

Another alternative is that people are struggling financially and, given the choice, are going to try to lower what bills they can. Again, there’s truth in that. None of us want to pay more, particularly when the cost of everything seems to be rising a whole lot faster than paychecks.

But I think the real reason that the budgets are getting clobbered is that we generally don’t feel as if we are getting the information we need before we agree to pay so much more. Sure, the town puts budget information online, but it’s presented in a way that only an accountant could love. And nowhere do we get simple data on the questions people are always asking – how much do employees make? What kind of health care do they get and how much do they pay? What kind of pensions are we handing out and how much does that cost each year? And on the education side, we really want to see much more, because it does seem preposterous that the charges go up so much every year while student numbers stay relatively stable. Explain that to us, please, in painstaking detail.

I’m a supporter of the schools, a backer of the budget, a yes voter to my core. But I’m also confused and upset that my neighbors have so many questions and there are so few answers. Relying on us to trust our elected leaders obviously isn’t enough to get a spending plan passed.

Give us some help, town council members. Let’s delve into the details, school board members. Make it possible for those who want to see the required spending supported to sell skeptical friends, neighbors and others.


Filed under budget, education, News, Schools, town council, Town government, West Hartford

The budget. Round One.

I need to get caught up on what’s happening with the budget so I won’t venture any opinions other than this: I know a fight is looming.

But I’m sure those who are paying attention would like a new thread that focuses on the issue, so here it is.

Here are some key documents, which I need to read:

Town manager’s proposed budget

School superintendent’s budget proposal

Town manager’s March 11 budget presentation

Budget in Brief

Capital Improvement Budget

I do have to give credit to our town officials for putting all this information online so that we can easily dig through it.

Property tax estimator


Filed under budget, Schools, town council

A total waste of money and a travesty

I learned today — thanks to a sharp-eared parent at a school’s opening day event — that the Board of Education is paying to have full-time security greeters at every elementary school this year. The logic, apparently, is that having someone there to be “security” will keep our kids safer.

Well, phooey.

I’ve been in the schools enough to know that almost every adult who walks in is known to the secretaries. They sign in at the office and either proceed to wherever they’re going or the necessary calls are made. There’s nothing a security person can do that isn’t already being done.

This just infuriates me because this year we didn’t have money for Middle School Quest. We almost slashed away expanded languages for elementary schools. We pared needed positions at Smith and Charter Oak. We had a big fight over every dollar.

And now it turns out that hundreds of thousands of dollars are being squandered on security personnel who are doing nothing of any value to protect children from threats that don’t exist.

I find it almost sickening that we’re sending a message to our kids and ourselves that we no longer trust the community to look after schoolchildren, that we need security in schools to keep an eye on all of us. We’re bringing distrust into a place that depends on trust.

I want to know how this happened and why it’s being allowed. There are so many educational needs that are not being met that I can scarcely believe money existed for this mind-boggling move.

Fire the security guards and fund some more teachers. Let’s put our dollars where our priorities are.


Filed under budget, education, Public safety, Schools

$188K for school boss

Well, I hope the man is worth it. Read the details here.

David Sklarz is getting a 3.5 percent pay hike that puts his salary on track to break $200K in another year or two. That’s hard to swallow when the district is doing things like cutting back on Quest and wiping out positions that would help kids directly.


Filed under budget, David Sklarz, education, News, Schools, West Hartford

Happy with the latest budget?

I’m still trying to find out details, but at least education doesn’t appear to be suffering as much as I feared.


Filed under budget, referendum, town council

Bye, Theresa! Taxpayer prez says she’s moving

“I myself am not able to afford to live in this town,” [Theresa] McGrath said. She said her agenda was to cut taxes. “I don’t want to move. I’m going to have to move,” she said.

Maybe I’m crazy, but if West Hartford Taxpayer co-prez Theresa McGrath is moving, why is she setting our community’s agenda? If she’s “going to have to move” then why is she given any attention at all? I can barely afford to stay, but I’m staying. She isn’t, apparently, so why do we care what she says?


Filed under budget, News, referendum, Theresa McGrath, West Hartford Taxpayers Association