Last week, I submitted the official City Budget for the 2007-2008 Fiscal Year to the Board of Aldermen. I think the budget strikes a good balance between necessary services, fiscal prudence, and accountability to all of New Havenís taxpayers. There were three improvements this year that I would like to highlight.
Our community policing program has seen crime fall by 43% since 1994, and I believe we should continue to improve it. This yearís budget allows for the hiring of 14 additional officers, which would make our police departmentís sworn strength the largest it has ever been (495 officers), continuing and expanding our commitment to Community Policing.
There is nothing more important to the future health of New Haven than the well-being of our Cityís youth. For that reason, I have proposed the creation of a new Department of Youth in City Hall. The new structure centralizes a lot of services that were more dispersed previously, creating a more effective system that encourages cooperation and enables us to better serve New Havenís young people.
As I am sure you are all aware, the state has mandated that all property be reevaluated for taxpayers. In order to lessen the burden of this change on New Haven residents, we will ďphase-inĒ the revaluation over a 5 year period, lessening the impact on residential taxpayers dramatically. Additionally, I have proposed keeping property taxes frozen at their current levels for all senior citizens, giving a deferral to those making over $50,000 and an abatement to those earning under that threshold.
Property Assessment Calculator
For those of you interesting in seeing how your new property assessment will affect your taxes, weíve created an online tax calculator. Just click this link to the Department of Finance page , or click the link on the Cityís homepage.
Special Dixwell Aldermanic Election Date Set For April 16th
Last week, Drew King resigned from his post representing the Dixwell area on the Board of Alderman. I believe that Drew did the right thing in resigning, putting the City of New Haven, the Dixwell Community, and his family first. Drewís colleagues on the Board will miss him, but perhaps this will provide an opportunity to bring new ideas and energy to the Board. With that in mind, the election to fill the Ward 22 alderman seat will take place April 16th. I hope any of you living in the area with a passion for serving the community will participate in the election.
Join the Democracy School
The Democracy School is a wonderful program through which citizens of New Haven can connect with the City. The School is currently accepting applications for the Spring 2007 session. It meets once a week for six weeks and is designed to introduce citizens to the workings of City Hall, help discuss and explore the challenges and opportunities facing the City. Itís a great way to become a more active citizen, and better understand your own city. For more information please contact Emily Byrne at firstname.lastname@example.org or (203) 946-7671.
Mayorís Night In
This Tuesday, from 5-7 p.m. will be my Mayorís Night In. Itís a chance for all of you to come to City Hall (165 Church St.) and talk with me about your suggestions, comments, and complaints about how to improve our City. All of us at the mayorís office are working to better serve and address your needs, and thereís no better way to learn about whatís on your minds than hearing from you directly.
Tuesday, March 6, 5 p.m., City Hall, 165 Church St.
Students, Worms, and Money
I bet that title got your attention.
Iím proud to say that second grade teacher Roberta McCarthy and Dr. June Levy, an educational consultant at the Celentano School, will be awarded a $9,000 Toyota Tapestry Foundation Grant (Literacy and Science) for New Havenís Celentano School. Their winning grant proposal had the catchy title of "The Worms Go In and The Worms Come Out" and will involve creating a backyard "worm bin" at the school, where students will have the chance to learn about ecology, pollution, recycling and the interdependency of humans on plants and animals, even if they donít have a backyard themselves. McCarthy says she hopes the year-long project will allow students, including those who donít have a backyard at home, to better understand and appreciate ecology.
I hope you have a happy and healthy week!
John DeStefano, Jr.