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Cassetti: No Ansonia tax hike, library to take a hit

February 15, 2017

ANSONIA - Mayor David Cassetti presented a tentative proposed budget to the Board of Aldermen Tuesday night that calls for no change in taxes, but a dramatic decrease in library staff and hours.

“I can guarantee you that this year’s budget proposal does not sugarcoat anything,” Cassetti told the Board of Aldermen. “The truth is that our city faces a challenge in the rising costs of public education and in particular the sky rocketing of special education costs in our city.”

He charged that the state’s education cost sharing formula “originally created to help needy districts, has unfortunately evolved into a system of political patronage.”

For instance, he said Ansonia receives only 70 percent of the funding due them while other, wealthier cities received over 100 percent, even 150 percent.

So Cassetti’s “worst case scenario budget” calls for $63,009,780 which is about $2 million less than less year and less than what department requested.

The biggest cut impacts the city’s 121-year library which is open six days a week. Under Cassetti’s proposal it will only open two days and only be staffed by part-time people. He slashed the library’s budget by $405,617 and eliminated all full-time position, including the director and children’s librarian.

Also cut was $75,068 from the police department which involved eliminating a part-time parking attendant who was paid $12,504; $4,352 for help at the kennel; and $50,000 for a police car and repairs.

The Ansonia Rescue Medical Services saw their budget slashed $332,507, which includes $316,927 in wages for open positions which will not be filled.

But the slashing also struck home.

Cassetti decided not to take his $3,012 pay increase and will not fill the $40,193 position of director of constituent services. That director, Richard Dziekan is leaving in March to run as the Republican candidate for mayor in Derby.

The budget now goes to the Board of Apportionment and Taxation which will meet with department heads in the coming weeks. Their suggestions along with the mayor’s must be approved by the Board of Aldermen by early April.