More Money “Mistakes”

I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again here. Thank goodness Nancy Rossi has had a seat on the City Council for the past several years. It makes me feel a whole lot better knowing that she has her eyes and ears on things down at City Hall. Being a CPA and knowing her way around a spreadsheet is very helpful when you are trying to keep everyone on the up and up. If left unchecked who knows what would be going on.

I ran into Nancy over the weekend and she had this bit of info for me. As we all know at this point, the Mayor “mistakenly” got a raise to which he was not entitled and he now has to pay it back. But what most don’t know yet is that he also took $6,000 for tuition reimbursement for his Master’s degree. Per the rules, however, he is not entitled to it. Nancy checked with the city’s legal eagles and it looks like he will be required to pay that money back, too. Why the mayor doen’t know he is not entitled to that money is worrisome, but I also question why AnneMarie Paone-Mullin, West Haven’s Human Resources Commissioner, would not know it. I’m pretty sure she would have to sign off on something like that. Very interesting. Isn’t she one of the few at City Hall to get a big raise at a time where West Haven’s coffers are practically empty?

I read Nancy’s Letter to Editor in the West Haven Voice this past week. I think she points out a number of very disturbing facts about the current administration that would interest you, so I thought I would share it in case you missed it.

Dear Editor,
 
In a recent issue of the Voice there was a front page headline, “Council OKs budget plan” that did not include many important details that could impact the taxpayers.  Everyone seems to agree the City of West Haven has a 10.5 million dollar deficit yet the Mayor decided to give raises to certain individuals that ranged from 8.1% to 24% per individual.  Many failed attempts were made to eliminate the additional raises however the RAISES are part of the budget that passed.
 
There were also two positions in the Police Department that were not funded, a position was eliminated in the Health Department and a position was eliminated in the Tax Office, yet the Mayor decided at the 11th hour to create a position in his office for $70,000, without a job description or written list of duties.  The Superintendent of the Board of Education also requested additional funding.
 
Documents show the elimination of the position in the Tax Office, a delinquent revenue collector, may have been politically motivated.  The Tax Office collects the majority of our revenue and although the office was already short staffed this position was eliminated.  While discussing the Tax Office it should be noted although promised by the Mayor, a full time Tax Manager has not been hired, instead a part time consultant was hired at $50.00 per hour.  The elected Tax Collector was invited to speak on behalf of the Tax Office on more than one occasion, yet refused to come before the Council.  To my knowledge, all other invited Department Heads whether elected or appointed did come before the Council to speak about their departments.
 
This was the 7th budget I have been involved with and the most disappointing.  In the past no matter which political side you supported, significant changes were made to the Mayor’s Recommended budget.  Only minor changes were made to this budget that could have been made during the fiscal year.  The only real budget work that was accomplished was with respect to Allingtown’s budget and that was accomplished in two nights.
 
The last six weeks of budget deliberations were nothing more than a show that cost the taxpayers’ money we don’t have, because of overtime and comp time.  Other than Allingtown’s budget, no significant changes were made and if this was the intent of certain members of the Council, a vote should have been taken as soon as the budget was released.  I guess Mayor Picard did get a “Council He Can Work With,” but at what cost to the taxpayers? 
 
Nancy Rossi
7th District Councilwoman

Let’s see what the next few months bring. It should be interesting to say the least.

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