Let me make this simple. Something has been bugging the hell out of me since May's Common Council meeting and since the period between May and June is historically the time when Boughton and the Republican majority pulls off their political shenanigans, I thought it might be useful to bring this matter to everyone's attention.
Let me take this step by step:
1. Here's page 299-300 of the city's proposed 2008-09 budget that pertains to the Capital Budget, a.k.a, the Capital Improvement Plan (CIP). This is part of the budget where the FIVE 500,000 dollar bonds the mayor is adding to our tax burden without our approval comes into play. Note the section highlighted in red.
2. From yesterday's Common Council meeting, listen to Lynn Taborsak as she attempts to talk about the out-of-control bonding habits of this mayor.
Why wasn't Taborsak allowed to speak about an item that's on page 305 of the very budget that's being approved? She point had nothing to do with the bonds for the proposed CIP but on the item on page 305? For the record, here's page 305 of the budget Taborsak was referring to...read it and weep.
Now, understand what the mayor said. Boughton stated that the portion of the bond Taborsak wanted to talk about was NOT ON THE AGENDA although she is reading right from the budget. Again, she didn't talk about the bonds for the proposed CIP but the out-of-control bonding habits of this mayor when it comes to items that shouldn't fall under the category of capitol improvements.
3. So to repeat, in the video, did you catch Boughton say that the portion of the budget Taborsak was referring to (a portion of items within the Capital Budget) wasn't coming up for a vote until JUNE.
Think I'm kidding...look, here's the budget that was approved last night.
20 – ORDINANCE & RESOLUTION - An Ordinance Making Appropriations for the Fiscal Year Beginning July 1, 2008 and ending June 30, 2009 and a Resolution Levying the Property Tax for the Fiscal Year beginning July 1, 2008 and ending June 30, 2009
Notice something missing...you know, that portion of the Capital Budget that includes the five 500,000 bond items that the mayor claims he can do without going to referendum (LIKE EVERY PREVIOUS MAYOR PRIOR TO BOUGHTON HAS DONE IN THE PAST).
Here the reference to the bonds in the section of the Capital Budget entitled "Capital Budget Financing (page 301)"
Here are the items (bonds) from the Capital Budget in question that were not on May's agenda with the rest of the budget.
Here's the wording of the five bonds that are in question. Note the words "Capitol Budget" in the wording...
2. An Ordinance Appropriating $500,000 For Replacement Patrol Vehicles For The Police Department And For Public Safety Technology Equipment In The 2008-2009 Capital Budget And Authorizing The Issuance Of $500,000 Bonds Of The City To Meet Said Appropriation And Pending The Issuance Thereof The Making Of Temporary Borrowings For Such Purpose
3. An Ordinance Appropriating $500,000 For School Technology Projects In The 2008-2009 Capital Budget And Authorizing The Issuance Of $500,000 Bonds Of The City To Meet Said Appropriation And Pending The Issuance Thereof The Making Of Temporary Borrowings For Such Purpose
4. An Ordinance Appropriating $497,850 For School Improvements In The 2008-2009 Capital Budget And Authorizing The Issuance Of $497,850 Bonds Of The City To Meet Said Appropriation And Pending The Issuance Thereof The Making Of Temporary Borrowings For Such Purpose
5. An Ordinance Appropriating $500,000 For Recreation And Field Improvement Projects In The 2008-2009 Capital Budget And Authorizing The Issuance Of $500,000 Bonds Of The City To Meet Said Appropriation And Pending The Issuance Thereof The Making Of Temporary Borrowings For Such Purpose
6. An Ordinance Appropriating $500,000 For A Phosphorus Study In The 2008-2009 Capital Budget And Authorizing The Issuance Of $500,000 Bonds Of The City To Meet Said Appropriation And Pending The Issuance Thereof The Making Of Temporary Borrowings For Such Purpose
NOTE: the Common Council held a PUBLIC MEETING on these very items back in April.
Now, go back to the top of this post and re-read the section in RED...notice the part that says May 15th.
Finally, take a look at section 7-4 of the city charter and take note of the section in BOLD.
Section 7-4 DUTIES OF THE COMMON COUNCIL ON THE BUDGET.
The Common Council shall hold one or more public hearings not later than May 1st or the next business day thereafter if May 1st shall not be business day, at which any elector or taxpayer may have an opportunity to be hear[d] regarding appropriations for the ensuing fiscal year. Following receipt of the estimates from the Mayor, the Council shall cause sufficient copies of said estimates to be made available for general distribution in the office of the City Clerk and, at least five (5) days prior to the aforementioned public hearing, the Council shall cause to be published in a newspaper having a circulation in the City a notice of such public hearing and a summary of said proposed budget estimates showing anticipated revenues by major sources, and proposed expenditures by budgets or departments in the same columnar form as prescribed for budget estimates in Section 7-3 of this Chapter, and shall also show the amounts to be raised by taxation. Not later than May 15th[,] or the next business day thereafter if May 15th shall not be a business day, the Council shall adopt a budget and file the same with the City Clerk; provided, however, if the Council shall insert new amounts or programs, increase, decrease or strike out amounts or programs in the budget such changes shall be adopted by an affirmative vote of at least two-thirds [( 2/3)] of all the members of the Council. The ordinance adopting the budget may provide for appropriations by department or function, and such appropriations need not be in greater detail than to indicate the total appropriation for each department or function. At the time when the Council shall adopt the budget, together with a provision for uncollectible taxes reserve, it shall also fix the tax rate in mills which shall be levied on the taxable property in the City for the ensuing fiscal year. Should the Council fail to adopt a budget within the time specified, the budget as transmitted by the Mayor, in accordance with the provisions of Section 7-3 of this Chapter[,] shall be deemed to have been finally adopted by said Council. The tax rate shall forthwith be fixed by the Mayor and thereafter expenditures shall be made in accordance with the budget so adopted.
A few questions:
1. If the mayor was certain that he could bring five 500,000 bond items to the council without it going to referendum, why wasn't this portion of the budget on May's agenda? Why was the vote of the bonds delayed until June's meeting? As far as I can tell, there was no explanation given for the delay because NO ONE asked Boughton (or President Joe Cavo) about this at the meeting.
HERE'S THE OBVIOUS ANSWER: In order for Boughton to get these bonds passed, Boughton needs a 2/3 majority vote in his favor. During the May Common Council meeting, the Republicans had two Common Council members absent therefore were two voted short of their 2/3 requirement to get the bonds passed (there are 14 Republicans and 7 Democrats on the Council). You can bet that there was NO WAY any Democrat was going to sign onto five 500,000 bonds as the way these items are being presented goes against the way every other administration has done things in the past.
2. If the charter states that the budget has to be approved by May 15, how can the section of the budget that pertains to the bonds (Capital Budget) be voted on IN JUNE. If any of the bonds pertain to items in the Capitol Budget for 08-09 (i.e., if the wording of the bonds have the words "Capital Budget 2008-2009" within in it), then shouldn't the items be voted on BEFORE May 15?
For example, from April of last year, here's the budget of 2007. Note item 21, which are the bonds for the Capital Budget (in bold).
20 – ORDINANCE & RESOLUTION - An Ordinance Making Appropriations for the Fiscal Year . Beginning July 1, 2007 and ending June 30, 2008 and a Resolution Levying the Property Tax for the Fiscal Year beginning July 1, 2007 and ending June 30, 2008
A. General Government 1 Budget Report
B. General Government II Budget Report
C. Education Budget Report
D. Public Works Budget Report
E. Health & Housing, Public Safety, Welfare & Social Services Budget Report
F. Grant Agencies Budget Report
21 – ORDINANCE - An Ordinance Appropriating $500,000 for Public Improvements in the 2007-2008 Capital Budget and Authorizing the Issuance of $500,000 Bonds and Bond Anticipation Notes of the City to Meet said Appropriations
This year, there was no iten 21 pertaining the to bonds for the Capital Budget because, according the Boughton, the item was being held till June.
NOTE: Contrary to the Corporation Council's ruling, in which they NOW state (after being questioned) that the CIP was approved in May, the mayor himself stated on several occasions that the CIP is coming up for a vote IN JUNE. This is why he ruled Lynn Taborsak and Common Councilman Warren Levy out of order when they attempted to talk about the out of control spending habits of the current administration.
Do you want further misinformation from the mayor? Here's a copy of the his own e-newsletter...note the portion in red
Again, according to his OWN CORPORATION COUNCIL, this is INCORRECT. The CIP was already voted on in May, the BONDING for the CIP is what's being voted on.
In short, this mayor is trying to have it both ways.
On one hand, Corporation Council is attempting to say that the Council voted on the CIP as part of the budget back in May BUT didn't approve the way in which the CIP would be paid (the FIVE 500,000 bonds) which were not on the agenda in May (again, this is most likely because Boughton didn't have his 2/3 rubber stamp majority). If that's the case, then Boughton is incorrect in his statements to Taborsak and Levy last month and in his e-newsletter because, again, according to his corporation council, the plan was approved in May, just not the way in which the plan would be paid.
On the other hand, Boughton is saying that the CIP is going to be voted on in June, which is why Levy and Taborsak were not allowed to speak about this item in May. This goes against the opinion of Corporation Council AND places the city into a charter violation situation...which beings me to my next point.
3. If we take Boughton at his word and the CIP plan was not voted on in May, then according to the charter, if the CIP isn't voted on by the 15th of May, the plan as presented by the mayor is automatically approved the next business day (per sec 7-4 of the charter).
Now, this could be just a misunderstanding
Something to think about...why were the bonds (which caused a great amount of controversy) NOT on May's agenda? Would it have to do with this statement from the former mayor?
EVERY RESIDENT OF DANBURY should be VERY CONCERNED about what's happening here. Given that the towns that connect Danbury (Bethel, Brookfield) rejected their budgets (those towns operate under a different form of government which allows the people to vote on budgets as opposed to elected officials), one should be very concerned when a city chooses to change the way they do bonds and not allow the people a change to vote on how their taxpayers money is to be spent. These bonds could have been presented in a way which would have allowed the public to have their say and seeing that we're talking about 2.5 MILLION DOLLARS not giving the people a chance to voice their opinion (while they're getting slapped with higher property taxes than what the mayor stated back in April) is troubling.
Please note today's News-Times article on this subject:
Traditionally, the Common Council would authorize borrowing $500,000 each year by May 15 -- at the same time city officials adopted a new budget.
That was the practice for at least the past nine years.
However, this year, the borrowing resolutions were not included on the May Common Council agenda -- and Democrats such as Warren Levy, often critical of the city's spending practices, were limited on what they could say about the borrowing because it was not on the Council's agenda.
Now, note the Mayor's rationale on why the bonding items were not on May's agenda.
Boughton said the lawyers did not have the borrowing resolutions ready in time for the May meeting.
What the mayor said here doesn't pass the smell test simply because he's been working on doing this radical new way in bonding for months. He got his opinion from the bond council on late March, talked about the way the bonds were to be presented during his budget presentation (where he also stated that residents would only see a 0 to 6 percent increase in their property taxes in April, and already presented the wording of the FIVE 500,000 bonds within the Capital Improvement Plan of the budget package. Hell, the common council also had a PUBLIC MEETING ON THESE VERY BONDS back in April so this explanation makes NO SENSE.
What makes sense is that the mayor simply did not have in April the 2/3 Republican majority needed to pass the bonds.
I'll have more on this later...