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    Office Of The Mayor

    2006 State of the City, February 5, 2006



    REMARKS OF JOHN DESTEFANO, JR.

     2006 STATE OF THE CITY
    FEBRUARY 5, 2006

    INTRODUCTION

    CITY CLERK SMITH, MR. PRESIDENT, MEMBERS OF THE BOARD OF ALDERMEN AND PEOPLE OF NEW HAVEN.

    It was JUST a few days after Hurricane Katrina hit the Gulf Coast.  WE ALL SAW THE NEWS PHOTOS AND TELEVISION BROADCASTS and we were just beginning to witness and understand the full fallout.
     
    New Haven stepped up that week and what I saw HERE was incredible AS WELL:

    • The Emergency Operations Center (EOC) was opened September 6, 2005 to coordinate OUR initiative to offer assistance to up to 100 Families that were victim's of THE HurricanE.
    • City personnel and volunteers – including Alderwoman Alfreda Edwards - were in the EOC AND handled over 1,000 phone calls from people wanting to make donations, FROM family members of evacuees and evacuees themselves.
    • We set up a full service evacuee welcoming center.  WE opened a warehouse.
    • The Board of Aldermen came together and passed an emergency appropriation for $500,000.  We did all of this in a matter of A FEW days.

    Why did we do it? BECAUSE WE ARE A COMPASSIONATE AND CARING COMMUNITY.  LET ME EXPLAIN:

    • Zulema Zuniga and her family fled their Jefferson Parrish apartment in New Orleans and came to New Haven. Her son – Angel - attends Hillhouse and is about to graduate, and her daughter is working on her cosmetology certificate. You may have read recently that the Federal assistance on her apartment has run out and THAT she cannot afford to stay without it.
    • Teresa Morrison and her daughter also evacuated from New Orleans. Teresa works in the Yale Dining Hall and her daughter NOW attends the Sound School.

    after Katrina children and their parents in our schools put their pennies together and raised thousands of dollars for Katrina families who evacuated to New Haven and have kids in OUR school system. I’m happy to announce that just before tonight’s speech I presented each family with a check from theSE funds to be used for rent. They’re working, going to school - and they WILL be able to stay in New Haven

    LET’S WELCOME OUR NEW NEIGHBORS!  WE KNOW SOMETHING.

    IN NEW HAVEN, WE KNOW THAT there is value in coming together to achieve difficult things. We believe SUCH EFFORTS should and do define this community. This is a measure of WHO WE ARE.

    *****************************************************************************

    ACCOMPLISHMENTS

    This past year we have used that same energy and determination to accomplish some remarkable and innovative things.

    It starts with our schools. We opened Celentano and Clinton Ave. Schools – combined investMENT OF more than $60 million in state of the art learning facilities for more than 1,100 children. 

    Our work is almost finished on four new schools which will open this COMING AUGUST: the Barnard Magnet School, the Daniels School, the renovated Hooker School; and Beecher. 

    AND, The brilliance of the buildings CAN ONLY BE MATCHED BY what’s happening inside our schools. This year we expanded opportunities for early childhood education, meaning more children are receiving a quality preschool education than at any time in the City's history – 73% of OUR children ARE now entering kindergarten with a preschool experience.

    We’VE increased the number of HIGH SCHOOL students taking ADVANCED PLACEMENT classes from 210 in 2000, to OVER 700 this year.

    • And students aren’t just taking courses for college credit, they’re taking college courses. This year more than 280 kids took classes at Yale, Southern, or Gateway – up nearly 75%.

    Truly, 2005 has been a time when New Haven stepped up.

    • We launched our 10 year plan to end chronic homelessness.
    • We’re growing jobs, moving ahead with the River StREET DEVELOPMENT Plan. New businesses – like Suraci’s – are expanding and adding workers. When the project is done we expect 300 new jobs and millions in tax revenue.
    • We continue to develop our Port – making land available for port terminals, and, in a matter of months we’ll be connecting the port to the national rail system – INFRASTRUCTURE that hasn’t BEEN IN PLACE in decades.
    • At a time of soaring energy costs, our energy Conservation Program has gained national reputation. We have actually been able to lower total costs for all city departments over the past 11 years –this despite adding 23 new schools and one million square feet OF SPACE.  By 2010 we WIll HAVE saveD taxpayers an additional $35 million.

    AND, ALL THAT SAID, We have a number of challenges that face THE CITY.

    challenges FOR WHICH we need to summon the same sense of urgency, teamwork, and determination that THE CITY DEMONSTRATED after Katrina.

    *****************************************************************************

    CITY CHALLENGES

    Tonight I want to talk WITH YOU about, AND FOCUS ON 3 CHALLENGES:

    • PUBLIC SAFETY;
    • IN housing; AND
    • IN THE CITY’S FINANCIAL POSITION.
    PUBLIC SAFETY ACCOMPLISHMENTS

     
    IN PUBLIC SAFETY, SO THAT WE MIGHT BETTER UNDERSTAND WHERE WE ARE GOING – LET’S LOOK AT WHERE WE’VE BEEN. 

    • In 1994 we had 16,215 major crimes reported. This past year we had 9,726.
    • We have worked SUCCESSFULLY to decrease crime in every category - this includes remarkable drops in homicide, robbery, aggravated assault, and motor vehicle theft.

    Our police department AND THE COMMUNITY continue to work hard AT improving public safety in New Haven and they have a lot to be proud of this year.

    • Twenty-two new officers hit the streets in April.
    • Last year we cut the number of civilian complaints by one third. This is a credit to our Civilian Review Board AND our commitment to Community Policing.
    • Clearance rateS for crimes – For every murder that took place this past year, we have either made an arrest or identified a suspect and an arrest is pending.
    • THE POLICE Took 123 guns off the streets of New Haven.
    • You of course remember that last year this time we were grappling with how to deal with seven officer-related shootings.

    We COMMITTED to collaboratION with national experts on the use of non-lethal force, and TO review our policies.

    Even though police officers were cleared in both cases involving mentally ill people, we updated the Memorandum of Understanding between the New Haven Police Department and THE Connecticut Mental Health Center.

    All officers were trained for 8 hours in "Hearing Voices" to better understand schizophrenia.

    OTHER officers received 40 hours of Crisis Intervention Training.

    All 20 members of the SERT (essentially our SWAT) team received training for less than lethal weapons including gas munitions, bean bags, 40 mm impact rounds and "flash bang" distraction devices.

    AND, This past year, the number of officer related shootings dropped by more than half.

    We are taking the lead on homeland security planning for the region in partnership with AREA towns AND law enforcement agencies.

    We invested more than $400,000 in new patrol cars equipped with lap-top computers – allowing officers to spend more time on the street and less at headquarters filling out paperwork.

    PUBLIC SAFETY CHALLENGES

    BUT FOR ALL THAT WE MUST BE CONCERNED.  

    • This year, compared to last, we see that crime has essentially remained flat. (Up 1%)
    • But looking at the last three years we see that the incredible drop in crime we had through the 1990’s AND INTO THE EARLY PART OF THIS DECADE, has leveled off. In 2003 we hit a record low of 9,010 crimes reported. BUT Since then we have SEEN PART I CRIMES INCH up to 9,652 in 2004 and 9,726 in 2005.
    • We have seen increases in Robbery, Aggravated Assault, and MV theft over the last three years
    • Another challenge we face is the steady erosion of Federal and state support for local law enforcement.  Not including Homeland Security Funds, Direct State and Federal Grants to New Haven Police Department totaled more than $2.6 million five years ago. In 2005 we received just more than $1 million, a decrease of 60%.  THESE ARE THE FUNDS WE USE FOR VISIBILITY AND SATURATION PATROLS.
    • YET AN EVEN GREATER CHALLENGE. Last year, THE STATE reported that we had more than 1,250 inmates released back into the community – a 20% increase from 2004.  OVER THE PAST TWO YEARS, 2,321 inmates HAVE BEEN released - and already 625 have been re-arrested.
    • CONSIDER THIS.  57% of the known offenders in the last two years’ non-fatal shootings had a prior criminal history.
    • 75% of known offenders for homicides over the past two years had prior criminal history

    EX-OFFENDERS, REOFFENDING is a major source of crime that IS being committed in our community.

    This is a picture from Friday’s New Haven Register – the corner of Goffe and Orchard. On Thursday a convicted felon, released last August – with a gun – fled police and barreled into the intersection – injuring six people. He was taken into custody again– exactly two years after his initial arrest.

    The FACT IS THAT THE STATE OF CONNECTICUT is dropping off these felons in New Haven, HARTFORD, BRIDGEPORT AND MANY OTHER CONNECTICUT CITIES AND TOWNS – dozens each week IN OUR CITY – and many have no HOUSING plan, no job, and no ability to even read a job application.

    we have come too far this past decade, and accomplished too much to not push back.

    HERE’S WHAT WE CAN – AND ARE GOING – TO DO:

     PUBLIC SAFETY ACTIONS

    fIRST, WE WILL CONTINUE OUR COMMITMENT TO COMMUNITY POLICING – NEIGHBORHOOD BASED DEPLOYMENT AND RELATIONSHIP BUILDING.  YOU KNOW THE FACE OF COMMUNITY POLICING IN NEW HAVEN.  LET ME ACKNOWLEDGE THEM:
    YOU KNOW THE TEAM ON WHICH WE COUNT.  THEY KNOW OUR RESIDENTS AND THEY ARE ABOUT TOTAL COMMITMENT.  LET’S ACKNOWLEDGE THEM.

    SECOND, We will look to increase the number of block watch in the so-called crime corridor by 50%. We will do this by training officers to set up and maintain block watches. We will devote two full-time positions to manage this aggressive block watch program – and we will re-institute the citywide Block Watch Association so residents from different neighborhoods can share information and strategies.

    THIRD, IN THE BUDGET I WILL SUBMIT NEXT MONTH, I am committing to another police class and at least one promotional exam within the department to strengthEN the leadership ranks.  This will bring at least 20 new officers onto our streets.

    FOURTH, we will launch a new Special Street Crime unit AT THE END OF THIS MONTH.  THE “ID NET” unit WILL BE comprised of 20 officers and three supervisors. They will be in uniform and unassigned – flexible deployment able to use Crime Analysis DatA to recognize, anticipate, and disrupt trends. They will also work closely with residents and confidential informants and they will be on the street when the criminals are – at night. 

    FIFTH, We expect our effort to crackdown on quality of life crime to take hold this year.

    • License plate and registration sticker theft accounts for 15% of all crime in New Haven – and it’s a huge quality of life issue. We have finally received support from the STATE to move the registration stickers to the inside of the windshield. This will pay immediate dividends.

    Also, it’s estimated that once every three minutes someone in New Haven runs a red light. Last month one of our police officers was responding to a call when he was broadsided by a car that had just blown through a light. We WILL ONCE AGAIN SEEK STATE AUTHORITY TO allow municipalities to install cameras at intersections. This will make out streets safer – as it has in so many other communities – and it will allow us to use our officers more efficiently.  

    FINALLY, Next week I and other Mayors from across Connecticut - will meet with Gov. Rell to talk about INCREASING CRIME ACROSS THE STATE AND TO SUGGEST solutions. I will tell her we need a real plan to CONFRONT TWO CHALLENGES:

    • FIRST, THE STATE MUST PROVIDE REAL, MEANINGFUL PRE-RELEASE PLANS FOR ALL INMATES RELEASED INTO THE COMMUNITY.  PLANS FOR ALL INMATES THAT INCLUDE A HOUSING PLAN, RESOURCES TO HELP THEM GAIN EMPLOYMENT AND TO EXPAND COMMUNITY BASED SERVICES.

    AND SECOND, Our Youth Initiative is about to take off. STATE GOVERNMENT CANNOT CONTINUE TO PUT ITS HEAD IN THE SAND REGARDING THE FUTURE OF OUR KIDS.  Open Schools, mentoring, and year-round jobs will ensure that more kids are realizing their full potential. i will be requesting state funding for summer jobs programs AT $650,000 – TO work in conjunction with our Youth Initiative to give youth positive choices.  

    1.  SUSTAINING COMMUNITY POLICING.
    2.  EXPANSION OF CITIZEN INVOLVEMENT IN THE CRIME CORRIDOR.
    3.  MORE COPS.
    4.  A SMART, FLEXIBLE ID NET UNIT.
    5.  ENFORCEMENT OF QUALITY OF LIFE CRIMES; AND
    6.  A CHALLENGE FOR THE STATE TO GET BACK IN THE GAME ON PRISONER RELEASE AND YOUTH PROGRAMMING

    WE KNOW WHAT MUST BE DONE.

    *****************************************************************************

    HOUSING  ACCOMPLISHMENTS

    and as public safety has made our city more livable, think about the progress we have made On the STREETS of our neighborhoods.

    Think back to run-down housing projects and THE neighborhoods burdened by hundreds and hundreds of abandoned houses.

    The progress we’ve made is clear AT HANH, AND

    IN REDUCING FROM 1,400 vacant, blighted units TO JUST 130 NOT REHABBED OR WITHOUT A PLAN FOR REHAB.

    AND For those WHO own their home, THE real security and appreciation of this most fundamental BUILDING BLOCK FOR A STRONG FAMILY GOES WITHOUT SAYING.

    LCI – alone and working with partners – has built or rehabbed 350 homeownership units and 925 rental units – that’s 1275 places where families now call home across this City

    • WE HAVE TURNED HOUSING PROJECTS AND ENTIRE NEIGHBORHOODS AROUND, AND MADE THEM THE BEST PLACES YOU CAN RAISE A FAMILY;
    • WE HAVE PROVIDED HOMES TO HUNDREDS OF FAMILIES – IN MANY CASES HOMES THAT WILL START FAMILIES ON THE ROAD TO FINANCIAL STABILITY;

    these are tremendous accomplishments that have made our city strong and whole.

    HOUSING CHALLENGES

    BUT, The challenge we NOW face IN HOUSING IS AT LEAST PARTIALLY a result of the tremendous strides we have made making our neighborhoods livable – of BEATing BACK blight, improving public safety and restoring confidence in our public schools.  THE CITY IS A MORE DESIRABLE PLACE TO LIVE – AND SO PRICES ARE ON THE RISE.

    Our challenge is TWOFOLD:  MAINTAINING affordability and increasing access to homeownership.

    NOW By “affordability” I doN’T JUST mean the very poorest.  For those making less than half the average area income, we must continue our rebuilding of our public housing AND fight those in the current federal administration who believe we are “done” fixing our nation’s public housing.  We must ensure that our city’s rental apartments are good, decent places to raise a family.

    IN FACT 1/3 of our housing units are govERNMENT assisted.  we have a huge amount OF LOW INCOME HOUSING:
     

    • Compare us with our surrounding cities and towns – Meriden and West Haven manage slightly more than 10% - but so many towns have almost no low-income affordable housing;
    • New Haven, ON THE OTHER HAND, has about 11% of the total low-income affordable housing units in the entire state;
    • there is need for more of that kind, but even greater need for US TO KEEP IN MIND ALL definitionS of “affordable housing”.

    WE NEED TO SEE THAT “Affordability” means different things:

    • It does mean low-income, assisted rental – like HANH units, Section 8 AND PROJECT BASED ASSISTED UNITS;
    • It means the affordable MARKET rental apartments that many working families NEED TO live in; And
    • it means for other working families – cops, teachers, clerical or technical workers at the university or hospitals – an affordable first-time home.

     AND THIS TOO IS IN PART A Statewide problem THAT WE MUST ADDRESS:

    TAKE A LOOK AT housing starts by year, juxtaposed with population grow by decade;

    • and you can see something does not match up – WE ARE NOT BUILDING ENOUGH HOUSING FOR CONNECTICUT – AND THAT IS MAKING OUR AFFORDABLE HOUSING IN PLACES LIKE NEW HAVEN WHICH HAVE BECOME MORE ATTRACTIVE PLACES IN WHICH TO LIVE – LESS AFFORDABLE.
    • AND THIS IS ONE OF THE PRINCIPLE REASONS WHY WE ARE SEEING HOUSING PRICES GO UP
    HOUSING ACTION

    SO, We need to do 4 things.

    FIRST, WE MUST ENSURE THE QUALITY OF THE HOUSING WE ALREADY HAVE.

    • We need to first make sure to finish our task of removing blighted BUILDINGs from our neighborhoods.  THIS JOB is nearly in our grasp, with only 130 BUILDINGS not in some stage of being rehabilitated or replaced.
    • We need to make sure the occupied rental units so many people live in are suitable to raise families – our rental inspection program kicks off this March; AND
    • LCI will continue to rehab and build rental units by itself and with partners – it currently has plans for 280 new units in the next term.

    SECOND, WE MUST PROTECT EXISTING LOW INCOME AFFORDABLE HOUSING.

    • HANH is the largest factor here, since they administer so many of the units directly, or through Section 8.  THE AUTHORITY is currently rebuilding Q-Terrace AND IS well on its way TO REBUILD Rockview Circle, Brookside, Eastview, Newhallville Gardens, 904 Howard and others.
    • these projects have a tremendous impact on the surrounding neighborhoods – we need to make sure that we forge those connections in a positive way – that public housing is not isolated, but rather integrated.
    • also, hanh has its historical challenges making sure section 8 is administered properly, and this board – working with my administration – should work with them to be on top of this issue
    • we will continue to make this a priority, but we are INCREASINGLY alone IN THIS JOB – the state and federal governments just don’t get it.
    • IN FACT, JUST Today, Bush proposed [see attached sheet]

    THIRD, we need to encourage more housing of aLL kindS.  when supply doesn’t match demand, prices go up.  we can’t fix all of the statewide problem, but we can promote density downtown.

    • DENSITY DOWNTOWN IS good for housing, and it’s good for our economic and social vibrancy.
    • we should subsidize market-rate housing ONLY IF IT CLEARLY LEVERAGES COMPELLING AND NECESSARY COLLATERAL BENEFITS – but it is against our interest, both fiscally and socially, to PERMIT ROadblocks to a DENSER downtown.
    • investing in the infrastructure that will allow this – parking garages, and other improvements is both an investment that will pay off not just for those who live downtown, but the rest of this city as well.

    FOURTH, as costs rise so fast throughout the state, we need to help families who might be able to build wealth and opportunity for themselves through homeownership.

    • LCI currently has plans for 105 homeownership units this next term.
    • WE Will work with non-profit and private partners to encourage the construction or rehabilitation of units for affordable homeownership wherever possible.
    • there will be some choices THAT we will have to make in the coming months and years.  houses have to be built somewhere.   and that means looking at lots that may currently be used in other ways and AT undeveloped parcels.
    • AND, we will work to ensure that development is done responsibly in our neighborhoods – by protecting functioning community gardens and requiring adequate standards for subdivisions.

    THESE FOUR ACTIONS:
    1.  ENSURING THE QUALITY OF THE HOUSING THAT WE HAVE;
    2.  PROTECTING EXISTING AFFORDABLE HOUSING STOCK;
    3.  BUILDING DENSITY DOWNTOWN.
    4.  BUILDING MORE HOME OWNERSHIP…

    REPRESENTS A BALANCED APPROACH THAT STRIKES TO THE HEART OF THE ISSUE AS TO WHO WE ARE AS A CITY.  New Haven has ALWAYS prided itself ON BEING welcoming to everyone.  THIS IS A CENTRAL VALUE of who we are.  For a while, that was very easy – when we were losing population, it was easy to make room for WHOEVER wanted to come into the City.  Now, we have to be more thoughtful about how we make room for everyone – and pursue many different strategies to make sure that we don’t leave anyone out.

    *****************************************************************************

    FINANCIAL POSITION

    AND WE NEED TO BALANCE ALL THAT WE MUST DO.  ALL THAT WE WANT TO DO.  WITH WHAT OUR TAXPAYERS CAN AFFORD.  AND SO OUR FINANCIAL POSITION REQUIRES OUR ATTENTION.

    FINANCIAL ACCOMPLISHMENTS

    OVER We’ve done everything expected of us THE LAST 12 YEARS. 

    • PENSIONS FUNDED AT THE ACTUARY’S RECOMMENDATIONS;
    • TAX COLLECTIONS UP FROM 86% TO NEARLY 99%  - AND IT IS TRUE THAT WHEN EVERYONE PAYS, EVERYONE HAS TO PAY LESS.  thIS improvement ALONE MEANS THAT WE COLLECT EACH YEAR SOME $21.2 million more – the equivalent of 5.4 mills.
    • IN ADDITION  WE HAVE MADE A BIG DIFFERENCE IN A HOST OF AREAS COLLECTING NEW REVENUES AND AVOIDING COSTS:
      • WE SAVE $4M ANNUALLY IN AVOIDED ENERGY COSTS THANKS TO OUR CONSERVATION PROGRAMS;
      • WE SAVE $5M IN AVOIDED OR REIMBURSED HEALTH CARE COSTS DUE TO CHANGES WE HAVE IMPLEMENTED IN THE LAST FEW YEARS;
      • WE RECEIVE OVER $2M IN OUR VOLUNTARY PAYMENT AGREEMENT WITH SEVERAL TAX-EXEMPT INSTITUTIONS

    ALL OF THAT ADDS UP TO $32.3 MILLION – OR 8.3 MILLS – OF COSTS OUR INNOVATION AND HARD WORK HAVE SAVED TAXPAYERS
    FOR 12 YEARS WE HAVE MANAGED TO DO BETTER:

    • NO MORE rationing of services.  12 YEARS AGO OUR LIBRARIES WERE OPEN only two days a week.  PARKLAND DIDN’T get mowed.  WE HAVE KEPT THE FUNDAMENTALS OF GOOD PUBLIC SERVICES IN PLACE.
    • WE HAVE ACCOMPLISHED 11 BUDGET SURPLUSES – RUNNING ONLY 1 DEFICIT – IN 2003 WHEN THE STATE TOOK BACK PROMISED REVENUE 8 MONTHS INTO THAT FISCAL YEAR.
    • AND OUR EMPLOYEES – OUR CITY EMPLOYEES HAVE BEEN TERRIFIC.  WORKING HARD AND REACHING RESPONSIBLE CONTRACTS.
    • THAT SAID, Last year’s budget was hard, AND NEXT YEAR’S WILL BE EVEN HARDER.
    FINANCIAL CHALLENGES

    THERE ARE Two sides of a budget – revenue and expenditureS.  AND WE HAVE CHALLENGES ON BOTH SIDES.

    • ON REVENUES, THE PROBLEM IS AGAIN THE STATE.  WHAT THEY PROMISE, AND WHAT THEY DO, ARE TWO DIFFERENT MATTERS.   State aid continues to decline as percentage of budget.
    • you can see over the past 6 years, state and federal aid has gone from 56.1% of our budget to less than half – and in the dollar values, you can see what that has forced us to do with local revenues.
    • the budget that Congress just passed does nothing to change the backward priorities our federal government exhibits.
    • LAST WEEK, THE REPUBLICAN CONGRESS PASSED ANOTHER $60 BILLION IN TAX CUTS ON TOP OF THE TRILLIONS ALREADY PASSED, ALLOCATED ANOTHER $70 BILLION FOR THE WARS IN AFGANISTAN AND IRAQ AND CUT ANOTHER $12.7 BILLION FROM STUDENT AID.  THEY CUT $6.9 BILLION IN MEDICAID, $6.4 BILLION IN MEDICARE.  THEY CUT FUNDING FOR FOSTER CARE AND FOR CHILD SUPPORT SERVICES – THE LIST GOES ON, AND ON, AND ON.
    • THE STATE’S RELIANCE ON PROPERTY TAXES IS A MAJOR AND GROWING PROBLEM FOR ALL CONNECTICUT COMMUNITIES.  LOOK AT PAYMENTS IN LIEU OF TAXES (PILOTs).
    • STATE STATUTE CALLS FOR PILOT REIMBURSEMENT AT 77% FOR COLLEGES & HOSPITALS AND 45% FOR STATE-OWNED PROPERTY.  STATE REIMBURSEMENT RATES HAVE FALLEN TO 56% FOR COLLEGES AND HOSPITALS AND 35% FOR STATE PROPERTY.
    • THAT MEANS WE LOSE $14.3M IN THE CURRENT YEAR AND WE CAN PROJECT THAT NUMBER TO INCREASE SIGNIFICANTLY NEXT YEAR – SOME 3.7 MILLS WORTH AND GROWING.  wHAT’S HAPPENING AS A RESULT IS THAT EVEN AS WE ADD TAX EXEMPT PROPERTY THAT PRODUCES JOBS AND BENEFITS FOR THE ENTIRE STATE – OUR DOLLAR REIMBURSEMENT FALLS.
    • I AM NOT USING THE OLD NEW HAVEN POLITICAL EXCUSE AND BLAMING YALE – THEY HAVE STEPPED UP IN SO MANY WAYS, INCLUDING THEIR NEARLY $5 MILLION IN VOLUNTARY PAYMENTS.  BUT AS THEY PAY MORE, AND OUR TAX COLLECTION RATE IMPROVES – THE institution THAT IS PAYING LESS AND LESS OF THEIR SHARE IS STATE GOVERNMENT.
    • On THE expenditure sIDE OF THE LEDGER WE HAVE HELD THE COST OF GOVERNMENT BELOW THE RATE OF INFLATION OVER THE LAST 12 YEARS.  IN FACT the big cost drivers are not new or expanded services – we are not growing the size of government.  THE Wilson Branch Hill Library IS THE only major change in services provided I EXPECT TO PROPOSE.
    • INSTEAD the main cost drivers are Salaries AND OUR COMMITMENT to pay workers wages that reflect the hard work they do.  Debt service THAT REFLECTS OUR COMMITMENT TO BUILD THE BEST SCHOOLS FOR EVERY CHILD IN EVERY NEIGHBORHOOD;  AND
    • Medical benefits THAT RESULT FROM A BROKEN NATIONAL HEALTH CARE SYSTEM THAT NOT ONLY COSTS MORE – BUT THAT LEAVES MORE AND MORE OF OUR NEIGHBORS WITHOUT HEALTHCARE.  IN NEW HAVEN OUR Cost per EMPLOYEE HAS RISEN from $7,729 in 2004 to $8,564 in 2005.  AND AS But as bad as THAT is, it would be much worse without the aggressive efforts i mentioned a minute ago – AN AVERAGE OF $9,434.  in this year’s budget ALONE, our efforts AND THE SUPPORT OF CITY WORKERS to redesign plans and introduce co-pays have saved TAXPAYERS SOME $5 million in avoided or reimbursed costs

    FINANCIAL ACTION

    AND FOR ALL THE CHALLENGES, WE SHALL NOT RETREAT FROM A VISION OF SMARTER, IMPROVED SERVICES DELIVERED AT AS LOW A COST AS POSSIBLE TO THE TAXPAYER.

    FIRST, WE WILL CONTINUE TO WORK TO GROW THE GRAND LIST.  DOWNTOWN’S GROWTH IS KEY TO THIS OBJECTIVE AS IT IS THE SOURCE OF MOST OF OUR BUDGET REVENUE.  AS WE MOVE FORWARD ON THE GATEWAY PROJECT I WILL ASK THAT WE ENVISION A NEW DOWNTOWN THAT STRETCHES ACROSS RT. 34, THROUGH CHURCH STREET SOUTH AND THE BREWERY STREET POST OFFICE, DOWN TO THE WATERFRONT AT THE PINK MAGELLAN TERMINAL OIL TANK.  WE NEED TO DOUBLE THE SIZE OF DOWNTOWN OVER THE NEXT 20 YEARS.  IN 2006 WE WILL PLAN, SEEK COMMENT ON AND SHAPE THE DIRECTION THAT DOWNTOWN DEVELOPMENT WILL TAKE OVER THE NEXT 20 YEARS.

    SECOND, WE WILL Continue to AGGRESSIVELY PURSUE COLLECTION OF ALL RECEIVABLES – AND WE WILL LABOR MIGHTILY TO ACHIEVE BUDGET ESTIMATES IN THE CURRENT YEAR AND INTO THE FUTURE.

    THIRD, I WILL ask the finance committee to work with the budget director to maximize federal reimbursements – together we should look at whether we are chasing every federal dollar we are entitled TO.

    FOURTH, WE WILL rededicate ourselves to our voluntary payment program for tax exempt institutions.  this is an initiative where a cooperative approach between the board and my administration would pay-off as well.

    FIFTH, TOGETHER WE CAN CONTINUE TO control costs.  not just squeezing the workforce more and cutting more non-personnel costs, but WHILE HOLDING IN MIND OUR CORE PRIORITIES, looking at the services we provide and making an honest assessment of whether we need to be doing everything – setting our priorities.

    THESE 5 ACTIONS:
    1.  GROWING THE FOOTPRINT OF REVENUE RICH DOWNTOWN;
    2.  aggressive PURSUIT OF ALL RECEIVABLES;
    3.  MAXIMIZING FEDERAL RECEIPTS;
    4.  VOLUNTARY PAYMENTS; AND
    5.  EXPENDITURE DISCIPLINE AND A CRITICAL REVIEW OF CITY SERVICES…

    WILL ENABLE US TO DO ALL THAT WE MUST DO, WITHIN THE CONSTRAINTS OF WHAT WE CAN AFFORD TO DO.

    *****************************************************************************

    SUMMARY

    IN 2006 I URGE A CITYWIDE FOCUS ON THREE AREAS.

    IN PUBLIC SAFETY:
    1.  SUSTAINING COMMUNITY POLICING.
    2.  EXPANSION OF CITIZEN INVOLVEMENT IN THE CRIME CORRIDOR.
    3.  MORE COPS.
    4.  A SMART, FLEXIBLE ID NET UNIT.
    5.  ENFORCEMENT OF QUALITY OF LIFE CRIMES; AND
    6.  A CHALLENGE FOR THE STATE TO GET BACK IN THE GAME ON PRISONER RELEASE AND YOUTH PROGRAMMING

    IN HOUSING:
    1.  ENSURING THE QUALITY OF THE HOUSING THAT WE HAVE;
    2.  PROTECTING EXISTING AFFORDABLE HOUSING STOCK;
    3.  BUILDING DENSITY DOWNTOWN.
    4.  BUILDING MORE HOME OWNERSHIP…

    AND IN OUR FINANCIAL AFFAIRS:
    1.  GROWING THE FOOTPRINT OF REVENUE RICH DOWNTOWN;
    2.  aggressive PURSUIT OF ALL RECEIVABLES;
    3.  MAXIMIZING FEDERAL RECEIPTS;
    4.  VOLUNTARY PAYMENTS; AND
    5.  EXPENDITURE DISCIPLINE AND A CRITICAL REVIEW OF CITY SERVICES…

    WE HAVE A GAME PLAN THAT WILL CREATE THE WINS WE NEED TO NOT JUST GET BY – BUT TO ALSO BE THE BEST OF PLACES.

    *****************************************************************************

    AND IN ALL THESE AREAS, AS IN SO MANY OTHERS, AT SOME POINT THE CHALLENGE TURNS FROM KNOWING WHAT THE PROBLEMS ARE, FROM KNOWING WHAT THE SOLUTIONS ARE, TURNS FROM ALL THE FACTS AND ARGUMENTS, AND COMES DOWN TO ONE CRUCIAL POINT. 

    THE CRUCIAL MOMENT IN WHICH THE CHALLENGE COMES DOWN TO OUR WILLINGNESS TO WORK TOGETHER, TO SACRIFICE FOR ONE ANOTHER.  THE MOMENT IN WHICH WE COMPROMISE THOSE THINGS THAT WE WANT, FOR THOSE THINGS THAT IT IS IN ALL OUR INTEREST TO HAVE.  A COMMUNITY THAT CANNOT SEE SUCH MOMENTS WILL SURELY DIE.

    IT’S TIME TO GO TO WORK.

    MR. PRESIDENT, CITY CLERK SMITH, MEMBERS OF THE BOARD OF ALDERMEN, MY BEST WISHES TO YOU AS YOU BEGIN THIS TERMS WORK.  MAY GOD BLESS OUR CITY, MAY HE HOLD THE PEOPLE IN HIS HANDS AND MAY WE BE BLESSED WITH THE GIFT TO WORK TOGETHER, TO SACRIFICE FOR ONE ANOTHER, TO SERVE THE INTERESTS OF ALL. 

    GOOD NIGHT.

    Added February 7, 2006
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