Monday, December 24, 2012

A Very Merry West Hartford Christmas

May this Christmas bring you and yours happiness and contentment, peace and love, health and wellness. Be thankful that you have a roof over your head, food in your stomach and a warm place to sleep. Make a commitment this coming year to lend a hand, an ear, or a few bucks to those who are less fortunate.

Our town, our state, and our country have some very difficult challenges ahead, and it is our hope that we can all work through them with common sense, creativity, civility and some open-mindedness.

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Wishing You A Happy Thanksgiving

Yes, Talk of West Hartford has returned (somewhat)

Hope you have a wonderful West Hartford Thanksgiving!
May you enjoy good friends and family, good food and good times!

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

The Tax Bills Have Arrived

It isn't pretty.
Taxes have gone up, yet again.
West Hartford News reports
In April, the West Hartford Town Council voted 6-3 along party lines to adopt a $237,669,945 budget for 2012-13, an increase of 4.7 percent over last year’s budget.
A little over $1 million was trimmed from the proposed budget before it was put to a vote.
The town’s current tax rate is 35.75 mills. At the current rate: a taxpayer with a home valued at $200,000 will pay about $7,150 in taxes; with a value of at $250,000 will pay about $8,937; and about $10,725 for a home assessed at $300,000.
This year’s tax bill also seemed more confusing for many residents because for the past five years, property was not taxed on the full assessment value. The 2011 taxes were calculated on the full assessment value for all properties in West Hartford. A property’s assessment should reflect 70 percent of the market value, according to information on the town’s tax office website.
“The town’s message is, if you don’t like it, sell it, someone else will buy it,” said Ann Serow. “But town employees don’t get the same message. Only residents are getting it.”
“Only the upwardly mobile can wrap taxes into house payments,” said Margaret Glynn, of Brace Road, during public hearings on the town’s budget in April. “I’ve lived here long enough to remember when the West Hartford brand was Yankee thrift, simplicity and ingenuity.” Now, Glynn said, the town has “an insatiable appetite for money and every house has become their ATM.”
Yes - well you can kiss "Yankee Thrift" goodbye, Ms. Glynn.

Saturday, December 31, 2011

Wishing You A Very West Hartford New Year

Have a totally terrific New Year!

TOWH hopes you will celebrate this New Year in West Hartford style.

Wishing you happiness, and good health, and a fabulous 2012!

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Blue Back Square For Sale

West Hartford, Conn. (WTNH) - Blue Back Square, West Hartford's upscale retail and commercial jewel, is for sale.

The principal owner of Blue Back Square, Ronus Properties, is "looking to sell all of its U.S. real estate portfolio," including Blue Back, Ron Van Winkle, West Hartford's town manager, said Tuesday.

Rick Langhorne, the president of Atlanta-based Ronus Properties, said the owner of Ronus "is European and as part of his global strategy he's decided to exit the U.S. — that's all I know."

Ronus has retained Eastdil Secured, a real estate investment banking company, to market its U.S. holdings, which, aside from Blue Back Square, include shopping centers in Texas, Atlanta, Tennessee and North Carolina.

More about it here.

Remember this?

Nice bit of fiction writing.

Friday, August 19, 2011

Mayor Slifka Finds New Deputy Mayor

... and bids goodbye to Tim Brennan who is off to become appointed Chairman of the Founding Committee of the Center for Social Entrepreneurship where he will seek world peace and hob-nob with Archbishop Desmond Tutu.

Saturday, July 2, 2011

Town Clerk's Raise Proposal Scrapped By Town Council

Thank goodness these people have some notion of economic reality.

Mayor Scott Slifka said the resolution was withdrawn because Democrats wanted a consensus and did not have one. Some council members still have questions about the pay raise, he said.

Slifka also said the town had to be mindful of possible cuts in state aid that would force the council to revise its expenditures. The governor and legislature on Thursday dropped plans to close the budget gap by cutting state aid to cities and towns.

While Slifka said the council may review the salary issue at some point, he said he does not expect the body to debate the issue "any time soon."

By state statute, the town clerk's salary must be set before November's election.

Tax and Spend West Hartford Democrats can't reach a consensus about spending more money?

Must be election season.

Thursday, June 30, 2011

Taxes Go Up - Town Clerk To Get Raise

It never ceases to amaze me.
In this economy where homeowners are struggling to pay their bills (tax bills included), the West Hartford Town Council finds even more ways to spend their money.

The Town Clerk, Democrat Essie Labrot, is crying poverty while making a comfortable $69,000 annually for a job she only has to be at 4 days a week! She has elected to the position in 2008 and her term expires in January 2012. She is up for re-election in November.

While on company time (so to speak) she has researched "what other Town Clerk's are getting paid" and is now seeking a $10,000 raise via Town Council approval. Mind you she would only get this raise if she is re-elected in November.

The Mayor, Scott Slifka, along with his tax and spend cohorts on the Council, are more than happy to give the Town Clerk more money. To hell with trying to pare down municipal spending! They are too busy trying to keep up with the Joneses in Greenwich and Simsbury. This reeks of the childish whine, "Jimmy has a bigger bike than me - I want a new bike".
For instance, the clerk in Greenwich, which has a few hundred more residents than West Hartford, made $87,230 in fiscal year 2010. The clerk in Manchester, a town with a population about 4,400 less than West Hartford, made $87,356, and the town clerk in Simsbury, a much smaller town, made $85,000. - Hartford Courant
And of course president of the Connecticut Town Clerks Association, Glastonbury Town Clerk Joyce Mascena, chimed in "That makes sense to me. It looks like she's done her homework." Like anyone cares what her opinion is regarding how West Hartford compensates their public servants. Unbiased she is not.

What is even more hilarious is that Mayor Slifka claims this increase to be important because the town clerk functions like a "department director", but alas poor Essie is getting paid less than other directors (Pass the Kleenex). Oh, the inequity! The salary range in West Hartford for nonunion directors starts at $77,235. The maximum salary is $139,000. Well, for heavens sake, why don't they just give Essie Labrot $139,000 for handing out dog licenses and marriage licenses (four days a week) and be done with it? Why don't they give her vouchers for free manicures too, since she is obviously working her little fingers to the bone. Give the whole damn staff a raise while you are at it, because they are probably doing most of her work anyway.

Mayor Slifka also claimed that Essie has done a wonderful job of reducing the Town Clerk's budget (10 percent in fiscal year 2010, and 7.4 percent in fiscal year 2011 and 2012's budget will be reduced by another 5.7 percent) and that she's increased revenue. She did this all while walking on water, mind you.

First of all, there is no magic in reducing an already bloated budget. There are lots of savings to be found in every department in Town Hall if one follows smart business practices and fully uses technology. And only operating four days a week cut that budget down as well. Running these Town departments isn't rocket science. Second of all if there were increased revenues it's only because town fees were raised by the Town Council. It's not like the Town Clerk is actively hooking people to come and register legal documents, or forcing them to get married.

The justification for a 14.5% raise is just as ludicrous as the $79,000 salary they are dishing out for a 4 day a week Town Clerk position, courtesy of the taxpayer.

One wishes to remind the Town Council (who by the way are up for re-election this November) "It's Not Your Money!"

14.5% raise?
November can't come soon enough.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Accessible West Hartford Library

This is nice, however, ever since the Main Branch has been renovated it seems cold and uninviting and parking can be a problem for some. Many people now choose to go to the Faxon and Bishop's Corner branch instead.

Speaking of literature - did you know West Hartford now has a new Poet Laureate?
Resident James Finnegan has been appointed West Hartford’s third Poet Laureate, following the two-year tenure of St. Joseph College professor Dennis Barone, Ph.D. Finnegan is a senior vice president at Lee and Mason Financial Services in Farmington. During the proclamation, Mayor Scott Slifka stated, “We’ve got a wealth of great talent in this town.”

There is also "Poet Rogue".

Methinks there might be some friendly poetic competition afoot!

Friday, June 10, 2011

Celebrate! West Hartford

June 11 and 12, 2011
West Hartford, Connecticut

West Hartford's 25th annual celebration
Free Admission - Rain or Shine

Celebrate! provides festival attendees with a wide range of terrific family activities – an award winning juried arts & crafts show, great food, entertainment, games, rides, as the saying goes, "something for everyone".

The event offers civic, service, sports, schools and charitable organizations a way to increase community awareness and an opportunity to raise funds for their worthy causes. On Sunday there will be political booths that will be open.

Looking forward to kettle corn, crafts, and just generally seeing people from around town.
It's supposed to rain on Saturday - but let's hope for the best.
Have Fun!

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

West Hartford Taxes To Soar

Town Manager Ron Van Winkle presented the proposed 2011-2012 fiscal year budget to the Town Council complete with a proposed increase of 5.8% over the current budget. That is equivalent to approximately $308 in additional taxes to a $250,000 home assessed at 70 percent. Van Winkle claimed “we are across the deep abyss” known as the recession.

Personally, I'd like to know what he's smokin' because there is no real recovery yet. The housing sector is a mess nationwide, businesses continue to file for bankruptcy and companies are leaving CT, among other indicators. Oh but wait, West Hartford MUST be doing OK since so many residents are on the government payroll. They actually don't live in the real world called the private sector.

The state of CT has an enormous budget gap to fill, and the economy is not looking too terribly good if you dig through the numbers. So exactly where is this recovery Van Winkle speaks of? and why is West Hartford raising taxes over 5% when every other community is coming in with 0% or very very minimal increases?

West Hartford has wage increases in the amount of $1,631,935. Seventy-five percent of which is attributed to pay raises for public safety employees as a result of contract re-negotiations. It is truly amazing that these employees scored yet another increase in such a dire economy. Chalk another one up for the poor negotiating skills of Town Management.

Then there is the MDC. The Metropolitan Water District raised its tax on the town by a whopping 7.3 percent! We are literally flushing that money down a toilet.

West Hartford's largest source of revenue is property taxes (88.3%). Now the town keeps crowing about how wonderful their tax collection rate has been. It seems that as long as about 98.9 percent of the people pay their taxes that this gives the town carte blanche to keep raising taxes. Perhaps we will see no increases once people stop paying (i.e. are unable to pay) their taxes. For the record, A one tenth change in the collection rate equates to $198,682 in revenue.

As far as the education lobby goes, they are praying to Saint Dannel to keep Education Cost Sharing level so they can continue to reap their cool $16 million in revenue for education (12% percent of the Board of Education budget). And if Saint Dannel comes through with an increase in sales tax to 6.35%, West Hartford would get $236,000. Note to Town Council and BOE: Just keep raising those taxes. To hell with reining in spending!
In order to finance the proposed budget, an increase in current year property tax revenue of $9,745,077 or 5.2% is required. A mill rate of 40.14 is needed to finance the remaining property tax revenue, representing an increase of 1.76 mills or 4.6% from the current mill rate.

Come to the budget forum in Town Hall on April 6th.
.. and while entering the building - you may want to check out the pictures of the proposed new entryway into Town Hall, complete with a cool new revolving door! You see, we can waste money on stupid things like new entryways because your taxes are just going to go up to pay for them.

Article: West Hartford News

Budget in Brief - published by the Town of West Hartford

Monday, February 21, 2011

Special Election Tuesday!

Allen Hoffman (Republican) vs Joe Verrengia (Republican turned Democrat).

In Elmwood - 20th House District - West Hartford residents will be able to vote at one of six polling places: Elmwood Community Center, Charter Oak School, Webster Hill School, Wolcott School, Conard High School and Solomon Schechter Day School. The polls open at 6 a.m. and close at 8 p.m.

There's a special election because Gov. Dannel Malloy, in his infinite wisdom, tapped House Representative David McCluskey(D) in January to be on the Board of Pardons and Paroles. Thus, McCluskey's seat was up for grabs.

Joe Verrengia is a police officer/public servant/union man in West Hartford and serves as a member of the Town Council. If your recall, he was once a Republican (in name only), and in fact ran against McCluskey in 2002 - and lost. When he couldn't win a state seat as a Republican he switched parties. Funny that McCluskey is endorsing him now. As a Democrat, Joe Verrengia has helped to increase taxes as well as spending in West Hartford. His service on the Town Council has been a source of contention since he votes on budgets that affect his own salary. Many have correctly claimed "Conflict of Interest" - but really does anyone in town honestly care? Heck, some have even spotted him driving while talking on his cell phone (off duty - no uniform).

Allen Hoffman was once a State Representative for the 20th House District way back in 1995-96. He's been a member/fixture of the Republican Town Committee and also serves as a member of the Republican State Central. He claims to be against higher taxes but was never once spotted at a Tea Party rally. He has been seen up at the Legislative Office Building a lot though. He's also been endorsed by that powerhouse of an organization: the Connecticut for Lieberman party. All 5 people belonging to that party in West Hartford might even vote for him.

Both Joe Verrengia and Allen Hoffman serve on The Metropolitan District Commission.
Have you enjoyed your increased water rates?

Gentlemen, good luck.
Whoever wins this race will have a really miserable state budget in Hartford to tangle with. Of course we know that the policeman will vote for his union's interests.

Registered voters of West Hartford's 20th - you have a choice.
Choose wisely.

UPDATE - Hoffman got trounced. No surprise with low voter turnout and union/state employee support. Chalk another one up for the Unions in Hartford - they just got themselves another union puppet yes-man. It took Joe awhile, but he finally got a seat at the big boys table.