Photo: Ned Gerard / Hearst Connecticut Media
I am absolutely beside myself with the level of outright intellectual dishonesty that the Cassetti administration is propagating when it comes to this year’s city budget and tax increases.
Before I begin, make no mistake, this tax increase is the direct result of an administration that has failed year after year to construct and approve a properly balanced budget. For the past four years, Mayor Cassetti and his administration have been using the city’s reserve fund (essentially the city’s savings account), to offset taxes and artificially lower them. In 2014, the reserve fund was at a healthy $12 million. Today, that number has been reduced to a staggeringly insufficient $4 million. According to the CT Mirror, a city’s reserve fund should be at 12 percent to 15 percent of its budget. Ansonia’s doesn’t even come close to that, barely scraping 7 percent. Even worse, if the city is to spend even 1 percent more of the reserve fund’s money, the city will lose its bond rating, causing even more financial hardship for the residents of Ansonia. Hypothetically speaking, our reserve fund can no longer be used to fund anything within the city.
What’s worse is how the administration can’t seem to take responsibility for this. Just visiting the city of Ansonia’s official Facebook page brings you to a propaganda piece pinned right to the top of the page. In it, it wrongfully portrays how the Board of Education costs more than the entire city’s side of the budget. For residents, this raises several questions, one of them being why does this administration thinks it is absolutely necessary to demonize and shift blame to the school system for their own budgetary failures? This woefully and intentionally deceptive graph would make the average taxpayer think that the city is funding the Board of Education $32 million. In reality, about half of that money ($15.2 million) comes from state funding and grants. It seems that the mayor and his administration continue to hold a grudge against the school system since they court ordered to repay the $600,000 that they stole from the school’s operating budget. I have never seen such deceit carried out by a mayoral administration in my lifetime of being a resident of this city.
I want to end this with a question to the taxpayers, residents and community members of this great city. Recall 2018, when the city underwent a state-mandated revaluation. A lot, if not all, of property owners in the city noticed a huge spike in their property taxes. Although this tax increase represents a good thing, higher property values, it should not have come at the expense of higher taxes. I wrote about this before so I won’t beat a dead horse, but why didn’t Mayor Cassetti and his administration lower the mill rate to account for the influx of tax revenues? Why did the city blame the state of Connecticut for the higher taxes? Finally, where is all of this newly generated income being spent, and why are finances so poor that the city has resorted to booting cars for increased revenue? The residents deserve answers.