The mayor of New Britain announced an immediate freeze of hiring and discretionary spending while she prepares a budget proposal for the city.
As cities and towns brace for a loss in state aid, Mayor Erin Stewart said on Monday all city department heads, including the Board of Education have been ordered to stop making new hires, including part-time and temporary employees, with the only expectations being those “currently in the civil service process or critical to the health and safety of the city.
“Tough decisions will have to be made in order to craft a budget proposal that our residents can afford,” Stewart said in a statement on Monday.
Stewart said there will be no non-essential overtime, which "means anything that would not create a health or safety concern." The mayor added that all purchase orders will be "closely monitored.”
Stewart is expected to present her budget proposal on April 13.
Department heads do not have much time as they are expected to give the mayor a plan for their cuts by April 4.
“While we have made immense progress over the last three years to improve our financial footing, we are beginning to feel the effects of the painful cuts at the state level. The harsh reality is that we must spend only what we bring in. This means that we will look at all areas of city government for spending reductions,” Stewart said.
Some of the major increases expected for the 2016-2017 fiscal year are the following: Debt service payments increasing $14.3 million; Employee medical insurance increasing $1.87 million; Pension contributions increasing $1.15 million.
She said she has already negotiated with four unions, and said there are significant healthcare savings, but more is needed.
Stewart said she has been meeting with the city Finance Department “to look for ways to reduce the budget.” These meetings come after she was presented with $245.91 million budget proposal by the city’s Board of Finance and Taxation, which is an 8.6 percent increase over the current budget.
Stewart asked all city department heads to reduce their budgets by 5 percent. She said she is trying to avoid layoffs.
To read the full memo from Stewart on the freeze of hiring and discretionary spending, click here.
To read the full announcement by Stewart, click here.
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