New Milford to cut municipal jobs
Published 12:00 am, Wednesday, February 21, 2018
NEW MILFORD — Town officials are eliminating more than a dozen positions to offset the cut in state funding for next year’s budget.
Of those positions, six are filled and the remaining 7 1/2 jobs are unfilled vacancies or requests for additional workers that will not be approved, Mayor Pete Bass announced in a news release last Friday.
“I am sad to say we have no choice but to make these changes,” Bass said in a statement. “This is the absolute worst part of leadership and the toughest decision I have ever made.”
Some of the cuts are effective immediately, and others are proposed to be effective July 1, Bass said. He did not specify which positions would be cut.
In the release, he said the decision was made after “an exhaustive review of our entire organization and with the greatest reluctance.” He said the alternative would have been to increase taxes by more than 10 percent.
“With all of New Milford’s revenue sources under pressure, these actions were necessary to responsibly stabilize our finances and put us on a realistic path,” he said.
New Milford is projected to receive about $3 million less from the state next year. The town lost $2.21 million in state funding in the current budget, including $1.76 million in school funds.
Last month, the Town Council, Board of Finance and school board approved using $1.5 million from the 2016-17 surplus to make up the shortfall, instead of allocating that money for the reserve.
Bass said the revenue cut, coupled with the increased health care costs, prompted town officials to make structural changes.
“I want everyone to know that we are looking at all opportunities to redefine how we can run the town in a more efficient and effective manner, identify processes and
procedural gaps and set up metrics for success to make sure that we measure improvements going forward,” he said.
Bass said he’s meeting with school officials early next week and expects them “to make similar hard choices in their organization.”
The school board approved a $64.3 million budget a few weeks ago for the upcoming school year that is about 2.34 percent higher than the current budget and includes nine fewer teaching positions.
Bass stressed this is the first time the town has had to deal with a cut this size. “The state of Connecticut has placed the burden of its fiscal irresponsibility on the shoulders of New Milford taxpayers, and we are doing our best to reduce that burden,” he said.