Mayor’s Proposed Budget FY 2020-2021

Mayor’s Proposed Budget FY 2020-2021

Hi everyone. Justin Elicker, Mayor of New
Haven, here. Today I submitted my proposed budget to the Board of Alders . And let me tell you, after just sixty days on the job, this was not an easy
process. We face some serious financial challenges as a city and that means I had to make some
pretty tough decisions. I wanted to share with you in this video an overview of our budget and where we’re at as a City. As we began to prepare fiscal year 2020-2021’s
budget, we started with a $45 million gap between expenses and revenues. In other words, just to keep City programs
running as usual, we would have to find an additional $45 million. This gap is because, over decades, decisions
have been made to invest in the short-term while pushing costs off into the future. Over the years we promised a lot to retirees
so what we owe in pensions has gotten bigger and bigger. We borrowed tons of money for infrastructure
– mostly schools – and now are paying lots in debt service. And as our financial problems get worse and
worse, instead of making tough decisions we’ve found one-time ways to get by each year and
kick the can down the road – by over-borrowing, refinancing debt, selling public assets, or
by using budget gimmicks. In short, I inherited a mess. And now I’m
doing what I can to fix it. The budget I’m presenting here begins to
fix these problems. And closing that $45M gap to submit a balanced budget was not easy. In this budget, I’m proposing the elimination
of 80 positions – the largest reduction in workforce in years. And while these are
all currently vacant positions – many of them are important positions that, if we had
more resources, we should fill. I’m proposing the elimination of some programs,
the reorganization of some departments, increasing some fees, and looking around for small things
that we just don’t need as well. By the way, did you know we spend almost $30k
a year on newspaper subscriptions? And after all those cuts we still had a gap
to fill. Our team could have cut more – but I drew
the line when it came to cutting programs that impact the most vulnerable people in
our city, like funding for homeless shelters and youth programs. And so yes, I’m also including a 3.5% tax
increase. Trust me, this was not an easy decision. This budget is a tough one and it’s not
going to make anyone happy. And frankly, this tax increase and major cuts could be avoided
if our partners – the State, Yale University and the Hospital did more. I’m working with
our State Delegation to increase what the state does, but I wanted to call out our local
partners. Yale University and Yale New Haven Hospital
do some to help the city, but when you look at each organization’s annual revenues and
compare that to what they contribute, something’s just not right. Both organizations have budgets that are more
than six times ours in the City. We’re doing our part as taxpayers and through
budget cuts. But New Haven can’t thrive if our partners don’t contribute in a meaningful
way to our future. It’s not just the right thing for our budget, it’s the just and
ethical thing for them to do. I’ll work to strike the right balance between
a government that can function effectively and reflects our core values, with as small
a tax increase as possible to encourage growth and support our residents. In the end, I am sure not everyone will agree
with the decisions I made in this budget. But you elected me to make difficult decisions
in challenging times I believe I have done just that. This budget
is honest. And it starts to set us on the right path toward fiscal stability. And just
imagine what we could accomplish if the University, Hospital and State did their part. Although
our financial outlook looks pretty challenging, we will not let these challenges define us.
New Haven is increasingly a place where there is more opportunity on the horizon. And I’m
looking forward to working with you in the in the many years to come to make sure that New Haven
is a place where everyone has the opportunity to thrive. Thanks everyone, and I’ll see you around the city.

3 thoughts on “Mayor’s Proposed Budget FY 2020-2021

  1. During the election process you went hard at Mayor Harp for proposing a tax increase. For the reasons you stated a tax increase is not a good idea. New havens taxes are already high with not much to show for it. Roads are a mess.

  2. Mayor Elicker,
    Thank you for informing us about the condition of our city's budget. The information was well presented. It's good to see you have decided to "man up" and take responsibility. That's my view as a military veteran. Currently, I'm a homeless veteran who lives on a bench on the Green.

    Thanks so much for continuing the support you have supplied for my homeless friends. By the way, you might want to work on how to more efficiently draw attention to the matter of Yale not making the desired level of financial contributions to our city. I'm aware of the fact that using public humility is a powerful tool to encourage any organization to sway their choices, but it never lasts very long. If you would like any advice on how to standardize and/or optimize any processes, please let me know.

  3. Thanks for this succinct presentation of a difficult problem and solution. Question for Justin: How much revenue is the tax increase expected to contribute? (I.e., if you propose that the state, Yale, and YNHH close the gap, or help to close it, what's the needed dollar amount?)

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