An online article claiming that the Trumbull Democrats have “amnesia” over the Bolton concert is a weak attempt to distract readers away from the facts surrounding this failed event. Despite the GOP’s spin, the Town of Trumbull has indeed lost $77,000 which it must pay out in expenses.
The GOP claims that parts of the funds which will be used to pay these debts are “non-taxpayer funds.” Net profit revenues from previous concerts and the last of the funds in the Trumbull Day account most certainly are not “non-taxpayer funds.” Regardless which Town of Trumbull accounts are used to pay the creditors owed the nearly $77,000, that money belonged to our Town. Splitting hairs over whether the dollars were those collected from taxpayers or those earned on the Town’s behalf is merely poor spin; it is the Town of Trumbull’s money.
On the issue of transparency, Mr. Herbst was not interested in there being any transparency in this matter of the summer concert. The BOF and TC were called together to vote on this summer concert in mid-July. Herbst claimed that this matter had been in the works for 3 ½ to 4 months; yet we were not informed about it when we were voting on all budget line items in April. As the Democratic Minority Leader on the Council, I moved to go into Executive Session in order for Herbst to reveal to us who he was considering choosing to perform. Since this was an unbudgeted supplemental expenditure, I felt the extra information should be given to aid our decision whether to take an extra $60,000 from the general fund, which was the actual resolution before both bodies at that joint meeting. Herbst stressed that this money was merely a bridge loan which would be repaid through concert proceeds, and that we were there to decide whether to hold a concert. The chaos which followed my motion led to it not being seconded nor voted on. Herbst stated to me that we didn't need to know this information because it was solely his prerogative to choose the performer for the concert. He then rhetorically asked me why I don’t run for first selectman so that I could make such decisions.
As for the GOP’s accusation of inconsistencies, Mr. Palo’s statements clearly were not inconsistent. At our meeting, he stated that the Town should not be putting on a concert unless the funding for it had been properly included in the annual budget. Palo made similar statements about full day kindergarten. Like many, he simply wanted these initiatives properly funded by budgeting for them in April. In making these sorts of decisions, taking into account short and long term effects and methods of financing our desires is critically important. He acted prudently.
I appreciate that Herbst was responding to the people of Trumbull’s desire to hold events which bring together our community, albeit late and in the wake of an uproar over the lack of Fourth of July fireworks. Several of us suggested privatizing such an event so that the town doesn't take financial risk on town entertainment, an idea which I agree we ought to consider.
The excessive number of special meetings and supplemental, unbudgeted expenditures requested by the Herbst administration indicates disorganization and bad management of our Town. We need to do better.