Reprint of Waterbury Republican article by Penelope Overton: Who will bite the bullet?

April 21, 2010

Who will bite the bullet?
Waterbury aldermen ask department heads to forfeit raises, cut staff
BY PENELOPE OVERTON
REPUBLICAN-AMERICAN

WATERBURY — The fiscal bloodletting has begun.

On Tuesday, during the first budget committee workshop of a difficult budget season, the Board of Aldermen started asking department heads across the city to forfeit raises and, if necessary, their staff.

“We have no pity this year, OK?” Alderman Frank A. Burgio Sr. told city Auditor James Berthelson after asking him to give up his raise. “People are struggling. It’s time for us to all come together.”

Aldermen are eager to find a way to cut, if not eliminate, a proposed 2.8-mil tax increase. For the average taxpayer, who owns a home assessed at $110,000, that is a $300 a year tax increase.

Berthelson was obviously flummoxed. He hemmed and hawed when Alderman Anne P. Phelan asked him repeatedly if he would give back a proposed $2,550 a year raise. He earns $84,975 a year now.

In the end, Berthelson offered to “unhappily” take a 2 ½ percent hike instead of a 3 percent hike. It was not the answer that [JUMP]the members of the budget committee wanted to hear.

Eight of the 10 department heads reporting before the committee on Tuesday had been slated for a raise in Mayor Michael J. Jarjura’s budget proposal this year. Two did not have a raise scheduled.

Of those eight, Berthelson and two others, registrars of voters Nancy Vitarelli and Patricia Mulhall, did not offer to give up their full raises. Both registrars told the committee to “do what you have to do.”

Most of the department heads offered to give up the raises as a kind of symbolic sign of faith with city workers, some of whom may be laid off, and taxpayers, who may face up to a 2.8-mill tax increase.

“Go ahead, take it,” said City Clerk Michael Dalton of a $6,300 raise. That would have increased his annual salary from $53,354 to $59,653, a total set by charter. “I gave mine back last year, too.”

Even the aldermen agreed to “share the pain.” The board agreed the aldermen should forgo $1,000 of their $4,000 annual stipend. The board president, Paul K. Pernerewski Jr., gave up $2,000 of a $6,000 stipend.

Mayor Michael J. Jarjura said he hadn’t decided whether he will give back $12,597 of his $119,306 annual salary. In past years, he returned it as a way of forgoing his raise but keeping his full salary in the budget.

Who are we and what do we stand for?

April 21, 2010

This is a call to the concerned citizens of Waterbury, CT.  Are you tired of standing by while the city government continues to award raises while another tax increase looms over our heads?  Have you suffered a disservice at the hands of a city employee?  Are you getting what you pay for in the form of taxes each year?

This blog is for you to tell your stories.  This blog is for those who are seeking to reach out to their neighbors and demand a call to action.  Don’t look the other way while the board of aldermen decides the new budget.  Have your voice heard.  If there is a voice in your head telling you that you can not fight city hall, stop listening.  We can fight city hall and hold them accountable for their decisions.  This blog is not influenced by political affiliation.  This blog is not influenced by Mayor Jarjura’s cronies.  This blog is a forum for open discussion. 

We can hold elected officials accountable if we come together.  This blog belongs to the citizens of Waterbury.  Now lets show Mayor Jarjura who we are.  This is a place for the taxpayer to have a voice.  Start using yours now!!