Monday, October 12, 2015
Republican Mayoral Candidate Sandra Russo-Driska Hits Drew Reorganization Failures
Middletown CT, October 9, 2015: Republican mayoral candidate, Sandra Russo-Driska: “In 2012, Mayor Dan Drew’s first term of office, he told the public that consolidating several City departments would save taxpayers significant amounts of money. As we have come to expect when politicians promise tax savings, the results often do not measure up to their promises.”
“Some three (3) years ago, a study group was empaneled, ‘Mayor’s Task Force for Efficiency in Government’, chaired by long-time Democratic Councilman Gerald Daley. At the time, Mayor Drew declared, regarding the consolidation of City departments, ‘This program is about making the city work better and smarter.’ While this is certainly a goal that we can all endorse, sadly, Mayor Drew’s reorganization did not live up to this hype.”
“According to the Mayor at the time, the consolidation ‘will positively impact the city for decades to come.’ As a result of his reorganization scheme, the Mayor stated there would be a savings of $584,512 over the following two (2) years, and $133,874 every year after. ‘” http://middletowneyenews.blogspot.com/2012/12/common-council-passes-retirement.html
“The fact of the matter is that reorganization has been an unqualified failure, and has actually cost Middletown’s taxpayers combined additional salary costs of about $400,000 per year, not including benefits, which represent an additional 60% cost. There has been no savings because the City did not follow the advice of City Finance Director Carl Erlacher when he counseled, ‘This program will provide significant savings if the Council and Mayor follow the plan and stay diligent and leave a number of positions open’. “
“Well, the so-called plan was promptly ignored by this Mayor, and the City proceeded to quadruple the staff in the City Attorney’s Office, which includes some of the highest-salaried employees in City service. Savings? The Mayor’s Early Retirement Incentive Program was touted as one of the centerpieces of the Mayor’s plan and following these early retirements, almost all of the vacated retirement positions were backfilled, and some retirees were actually brought back to work for the City. Is that Dan Drew’s idea of ‘savings’? This Administration’s incompetent management is no surprise considering that this Mayor has no prior experience in management or administration, anywhere. This is the factual record:
• The Tax Assessor’s Office eliminated the Assistant Tax Assessor position, but the Mayor filled the Deputy Tax Assessor job at a higher salary.
• The Food & Nutrition Manager for the Board of Education position was vacated, and backfilled with private contractor Sodexo, which has so far been nothing but problematic for the City, with little to no savings.
• There remains a Director of Recreation (formerly Director of Parks & Recreation) performing in an acting capacity, so a Director’s position was never eliminated.
• The Deputy Town Clerk position remains vacant, and the Park Maintainer 4 position was downgraded to a Park Maintainer 3. Not exactly a windfall in savings here.
Then there is the untold cost of the Mayor’s Early Retirement Incentive Program, about which Drew has conveniently neglected to inform City taxpayers. This program was never intended to save tax dollars, but to target experienced directors and others who had knowledge and experience that would challenge and counter this Mayor’s tactics. In the coming years, this financial burden will be shouldered by the taxpayers, as evidenced by the City’s own accounting:
• $3,703,000 increase in pension liability.
• $40,000 cash payout cost for each eligible pensioner totaling $440,000.
• Total actual cost of the retirement incentive is $4,143,000.
“These costs must be included in assessing the financial impact of Drew’s grand reorganization, and unfortunately, the taxpayer is going to end up footing the bill for this Mayor’s department shuffle. Mayor Drew should come clean with the voters and admit that this consolidation was a monumental failure! However, I expect that he will continue to tell the public how successful the department consolidation has been, and how it provides better service to the public. However, where is the evidence backing up these empty claims?”
“Mayor Drew also continues to proclaim that he has ‘cut taxes!’ However, Middletown taxpayers know full well that during Drew’s four (4) years in office, the tax rate has increased from 26.9 to 32.6 mils, while our property values have fallen. When taxpayers hear incumbent politicians like Dan Drew running for re-election, trumpet how they have increased efficiency, cut the cost of government, and decreased tax rates, they have rightly learned to hold on to their pocketbooks. Middletown simply cannot afford another four (4) years under a Mayor who has proven to be long on promises but short on performance.”
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