Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Letter to the Editor: Upcoming South Fire Budget Vote, CVH Burden Services Still Burden Taxpayers

Editor's note: All letters to the Insider are printed as a courtesy to readers, and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of the Insider.  We want to hear from you! Please submit thank you!

Editor's Note Update: As of today we have been informed by Dan Penney that he also submitted this letter to the Mess. The Mess ran it as a print editorial on Saturday, however, unlike the pro-budget editorials, have failed to also publish it on their online page. Coincidence?
To the editor: April 23,2013

The South Fire District Board of Fire Commissioners has scheduled voting on the 2013-2014 proposed budget for Tuesday, April 30,2013 from 6:00 a.m. - 8:00 p.m. at the South District Firehouse.

The current 2012-13 budget includes new spending of $650,000,an increase of some  16 %. The proposed budget,while appearing to be level,certainly suggest that the south district taxpayers were unnecessarily overtaxed with approval of the 2012-2013 budget.  

Not surprisingly and only after the south fire district fiscal administrator presented a comprehensive sound 2013-2014 budget did the commissioners act to effect changes that denied taxpayers possible savings.The final proposed budget contains expenses that could have easily been eliminated and/or reduced so as to provide much needed tax relief for the south district taxpayers,including homeowners and local businesses. 

Most alarming,the proposed budget includes an unprecedented pay increase of 50% for Commissioners ( 7708 Directors’ Compensation) who acted to pay themselves regardless of being elected to serve in such public service. District financial records also confirm that such payments are made even when meetings are missed thus demonstrating a sense of entitlement never before witnessed. In light of limited fiscal resources and in the true best interest of our firefighters and taxpayers this is clearly a budget line item that could have been eliminated. 

Overtime is also increasing ( 7603 Replacements/Call Backs) from $134,673 to $146,000. Most concerning, the current overtime spending is at $232,398 or $97,725 over budget as of March 31,2013. Such ongoing activity certainly brings into question the lack of management controls as well as effective stewardship. 

Another missed opportunity for significant savings is the most recent decision of the Board of Fire Commissioners to proceed with the recruitment of a Fire Chief.The public had called for this management position to be eliminated and such services retained via a simple memorandum of understanding with the City, at significant cost savings for both the City and South District taxpayers.

Additionally, south fire district support continues for CVH, a State facility where the burden of fire services expenses was shifted on the south district taxpayers when CVH initiated actions to reduce its longstanding fire services. 

Until such practices have been corrected and the resulting tax breaks extended to the south fire district taxpayers, I recommend a NO vote next Tuesday on the proposed 4.6 million 2013/ 2014 budget. 

Dan Penney
Middletown,CT 06457 


  1. Dear Mr. Penney;
    What gives you the right to question any spending of tax payer’s monies? You are drawing a $90,000.00 plus pension with an annual cost of living raise and health care benefits funded by taxpayers that I’m sure you think you disserve. Mr. Penney if you have any dignity you must lead by example. By you asking the Commissioners and Firefighters to give up some of their compensation’s without forgoing some of your $90,000.00 plus pension you are then by definition a hypocrite. The problem with Mr. Penney and others like him is they feel entitled and don’t lead by example, what’s good for me is not good for others. Mr. Penney you have no standing at the podium, your words will continue to ring hollow until you first give up at least what you are asking of others.

  2. You have a lot of nerve talking about the burden to taxpayers. Are you not a burden to taxpayers with your excessive taxpayer funded pension and benefits?

  3. Dan Penney
    Stop misleading the public. You just are trying to help your friends at CVH and are trying to destroy the SFD. You have no clue as to what is going on

  4. Sharing a Chief is ridiculous. Middletown's Chief is retiring soon, their Deputy Chief is looking elsewhere. Consolidation is the answer but Dan, Earle, and their minions know that will mean a tax increase for SFD taxpayers.
    These small-timers want to be big-shots amongst their friends and, apparently,this is the only way they can do it.

  5. Budget should have side by side comparision of previous year to proposed budget.

    Rumor or fact-Fire Commissioners stipend have been increased? They gave themselves a raise?

  6. The South District Fire Commissioners did not give themselves raises. They restored their pathetic stipend back to $150 per month. It had been reduced a few years ago during a particularly difficult budget year. And, by the way, the work the Commissioners do extends way past the meetings. The monthly meetings is a tiny percentage of the amount of time they spend working for the district.

  7. Fact--not rumor.
    What Dan does not know (or does not want you to know)is that if the budget keeps getting voted down the State will intervene and set a mil rate it believes would allow SFD to continue operations.
    The voters--that's you--will have NO say in the matter.
    What I find curious is that Dan frets so much over a 3.6 mil tax, but not a word about the 30 mils he pays to the City! Guess he can't impress the Common Council as much as the peons in the South Farms.

  8. Re: Anonymous 2:17
    The $150 monthly stipend the SFD Commissioners receive is about $150 too much, considering how they screw up everything they touch.
    They cannot make the simplest decision without consulting a lawyer at $250 an hour. They cost the taxpayers tens of thousands of dollars because they delayed hiring new firefighters to replace the ones that escaped.
    The fact that 18 firefighters in less than 10 years sought jobs elsewhere (including being willing to take demotions)and the Commission being OK with it ("Plenty of people looking for jobs")is disturbing. How about hiring an ex-cop to search for a new Fire Chief? The list goes on and on...Incompetence to the max.

  9. All of you can attack Mr. Penney with personal quips but his points ring true! Selfish commissioners taking home $2k a year a piece just to sit on their butts!


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