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The Final Bite at Trumbull's Budget Apple

The Town Council listened to a handful of residents, many of whom have followed the 2013-2014 budget process since the beginning.

[Editor's note: The proposed THS concession stand is still in the planning stages.]

With the Town Council's debate on the proposed 2013-2014 budget looming, residents criticized the "budget gimmicks" and the process at the final public hearing April 4.

The full Town Council will review the proposed $151.9 million budget, possibly make its own changes and vote April 10 at 8 p.m. in Town Hall.

Debate on the budget has centered around the use of "budget gimmicks," leading to charges of less transparency in the proposal.

The first speaker, Lainie McHugh, said the Council takes up the budget before the Board of Finance is scheduled to talk about bonding for school technology updates, Trumbull High School turf and school security.

"The Town Council is voting on money it hasn't talked about yet," she said. (The Town Council's Finance Committee conducted Thursday's hearing and will make its recommendation to the full Council on April 8 at 7 p.m.)

Regardless of whether items are bonded or in the operating budget, "We are paying for it one way or the other," McHugh added.

She also asked the committee spare the proposed 2013-2014 education budget, which calls for a 2.74 percent increase.

Under the proposal, the Board of Education must trim $1.862 million to meet the 2.74 percent increase recommended by the Board of Finance and First Selectman Tim Herbst. The board had asked for a 4.56 percent increase to cover a small staff increase and salaries and benefits.

Resident Cindy Katske reiterated her request for more guidance counselors at Trumbull High School, adding that the school district is "being penalized for doing a good job" in controlling its spending.

Senior Concerns

Resident Tony D'Aquila said many seniors no longer consider Trumbull "an affordable place to live."

He criticized the "as new" renovations of Trumbull High School and the construction of the new THS auditorium, in addition to pondering spending thousands on a new concession stand for THS.

In comparison, the Senior Center needs a new kitchen, he said.

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D'Aquila also attacked the Water Pollution Control Authority's moving $10 million of non-sewer-related costs onto town taxpayers.

"Our politicians love to borrow money using 20- to 30-year bonds," while denying requests such as sidewalks, street lights, traffic lights and crosswalks.

"Every time we ask for something, the town says no, no, no. Give the seniors the respect they deserve," D'Aquila said.

Move Forward

"I insist you change the way you fund activities in this town," said resident Scot Kerr.

He said "shell games" have made the budget process confusing, such as basing budgets on projected savings to pay for items today. Don't bond technology that won't last long, he added.

Gimmicks have made it difficult to have an intelligent conversation on the budget, according to Kerr.

"This year's damage is done. Let's move forward" and ensure that future budgets do not have such issues.

Finally, Rich White presented a petition asking the Council to keep the education budget proposal intact. The Council cannot add to the budget.

Meanwhile, both the Town Council and the Board of Finance will meet April 11 to discuss bonding for school security, THS turf maintenance and technology upgrades.

JR April 08, 2013 at 11:08 AM
Mr. D'Aquila - Could you meet me at THS and show me the new concession stand?
Mike McCormick April 08, 2013 at 11:54 AM
Investing in the future of the children if Trumbull is extremely important. I'm not sure why someone would use the improvements made to THS to compare to the senior center kitchen. I do agree that our older residents need assistance as well. Perhaps our fearless leader Timmy Herbst can donate a portion of his salary to help pay for the new kitchen.
Joan April 08, 2013 at 12:14 PM
Mr. Leo, wouldn't it be appropriate to mention in this article that there is no new concession stand at the high school? It seems to me that a statement like that shouldn't be left hanging out there un-fact-checked.
TrumbullSr April 08, 2013 at 12:58 PM
I thought there was a grant to improve the senior kitchen. What happened.
Aaron Leo (Editor) April 08, 2013 at 01:51 PM
TrumbullSr., that grant is stuck somehow. I will be following up on it. Lots of budget matters to tend to this week.
Aaron Leo (Editor) April 08, 2013 at 01:51 PM
Joan, I have clarified that point. Thanks.
Joan April 08, 2013 at 02:39 PM
Thank you, Aaron, and with all due respect--I may be wrong, but we are no longer "pondering" the concession stand, are we? I thought it was definitely rejected.
Aaron Leo (Editor) April 08, 2013 at 03:36 PM
Joan, the concession stand has not been cancelled but it's now supposed be done with a smaller price tag. It is still in the architectural design phase.
Ted April 08, 2013 at 04:16 PM
Or why don't you donate some money to the High school!
Pam Georgas April 08, 2013 at 04:35 PM
Last I heard the concession stand was being redesigned to fit/target a more reasonable budget, and that maybe PW would do some of the work to save some money. that makes more sense than spending $650,000...Not sure why it wasn't done that way in the first place
Joan April 08, 2013 at 07:12 PM
Thank you, Aaron. It is hard to follow all of the twists and turns of Trumbull's town government.
Alexander B. C. April 08, 2013 at 08:23 PM
How the &^%* does one reach a number og 650k for a concession stand? And architects to design it ??! Of course gruff, over-priced union labor would build it. This is all a sham.
JR April 09, 2013 at 12:33 AM
It was priced based on the design approved by the town council. It also included permanent bathroom facilities. That price also included repurposing the old stand. It won't be done by the THS building committee. Just sound off with a shred of fact. FYI - most of the subs were non-union.
Joan April 09, 2013 at 02:05 AM
Were the non-union workers not gruff then? ;-)
Kristy Waizenegger April 09, 2013 at 01:31 PM
You are correct Pam. For those who want to follow the "twists and turns" of town government, the public can attend a meeting or review the minutes from any meeting on the town website. Essentially, the original plans were for something much more elaborate that what most of us think of when we hear 'concession stand' which resulted in the high price tag. The Town Council recently shifted gears and is working with the town on plans for a more basic concession stand. I'm glad we're moving forward with a more practical and cost effective plan.
Joan April 09, 2013 at 03:05 PM
Thank you for clarifying, Ms. Waizenegger. Was that an unnecessary bit of snark in your comment, though? I certainly hope not. It's so hard to decipher tone from these online comments. I'm sure that as one of our elected representatives, you realize that not everyone has the time or ability to attend innumerable town meetings or read their minutes. Kudos to those who do. Some of us have to rely on what we can glean from the local press and what we learn from our neighbors who are able to become more involved. I don't think we deserve your scorn.
MAC April 09, 2013 at 08:38 PM
It is tragic that the hard work done by diligent volunteers is about to be undone by the "Common Core" 'race to mediocrity'! CT and 44 states accepted Fed. $$ in "Stimulus" with this Dumbed DOWN curriculum and DATA MINING of their children mandated to get the money!! An example is that Algebra won't be taught in 8th grade, because "some minority students aren't ready for it"!! www.theblaze.com/stories/2013/03/30/common-core-uses-scientology-videos-to-teach-students-they-have-right-to-food-housing-clothing-medicine-even-a-job/ "A parent in upstate New York is claiming ...disturbing information [is] being taught to his child as a result of a Common Core-aligned lesson on government and human rights."... "The latest example, he says, is that his daughter and her classmates are being taught a section on the 30 'universal human rights' declared by the United Nations in 1945. Those rights include: • The right to a nationality, and to change that nationality whenever you want to. • The right to a job for everyone who wants one. • The right to “social security” (to be taken care of by the government when you cannot do it yourself). • The right to food, clothing, housing and medicine."... "The U.N.’s Universal Declaration of Human Rights was being taught...over an eight-week period. "The U.S. Constitution ...[for] only three weeks."... "videos...part of the homework assignment from Common Core...produced [by] Church of Scientology."...
Richard W. White April 09, 2013 at 09:34 PM
Do you fact check the rubbish that you post? From the section titled: "High School Mathematics in Middle School" http://www.corestandards.org/assets/CCSSI_Mathematics_Appendix_A.pdf "Taking the above considerations into account, as well as the recognition that there are other methods for accomplishing these goals, the Achieve Pathways Group endorses the notion that all students who are ready for rigorous high school mathematics in eighth grade should take such courses (Algebra I or Mathematics I), and that all middle schools should offer this opportunity to their students."
Joan April 09, 2013 at 09:44 PM
Richard, I think once you see theblaze.com cited, it tells you all you need to know.
MAC April 10, 2013 at 03:59 AM
Richard, do you agree with MSNBC anchor Melissa Harris-Perry that your children "don’t really belong to you," they belong to the collective? I think you have your head at least partially in the sand, because you are convinced that your Dem leaders (and other big government lovers) will make better decisions than you and your wife, for your family (seemingly). In Pravda last year, an article stated (remember Khruschev?): “Bye, bye Miss American Pie. The Communists have won in America with Obama… Obama has been re-elected for a 2nd term by an illiterate society and he is ready to continue his lies of less taxes while he raises them,” it says. The article continues: “They read history in America don’t they? Alas, the schools in the U.S. were conquered by the Communists long ago and history was revised thus paving the way for their Communist presidents.” As a parent you are not concerned about the loss of privacy in school records because of "Common Core"? “The defense of Common Core doesn’t even mention all of the data mining that will take place from Microsoft, the biowristbands they want to use on our kids, the FCAT scans that are in the Department of Education’s own paperwork. The rest of the 1984 type monitoring systems, all of it, all of it of course is simply going to be done to help your children. It will help educators help your kids. It will make them safer, smarter, more secure."...
Richard W. White April 10, 2013 at 04:46 AM
Bio wrist bans and scanners? Have you read the article above or the article on Thursday night's TC and BoF joint meeting? Back in Trumbull (on earth), the Board of Education has been forced to cut from their budget requests for the last few years, curriculum development and technology procurements have been reduced and cut to the point where our Town Council and Board of Finance are considering one-time bonding to catch up. Let's fund smart boards, laptops, and common network elements today and worry about whether or not to fund bio wrist scanners and scanners later.
Richard W. White April 10, 2013 at 04:58 AM
As for Melisa Harris-Perry's statement, collective isn't a word that I would have used (nor did MHP), but yes and I'd agree with her statement today: "I have no intention of apologizing for saying that our children, all of our children, are part of more than our households, they are part of our communities and deserve to have the care, attention, resources, respect and opportunities of those communities." You mention volunteers. Why do people volunteer with their local school, help at the library, coach little soccer, lead a scout troop, if not to improve the community and opportunity for all of our children. If they are volunteering for the sole sake of their own children that is pretty shallow and I'd suspect extremely rare.
Tom Kelly April 10, 2013 at 11:54 AM
MAC, you have very firm opinions about government mandating a certain curriculum, but how would you feel if the schools reinstated the requirement to sing My Country Tis of Thee and say The Our Father every morning? Is that ok?
MAC April 10, 2013 at 07:15 PM
Wrong, Richard! MHP DID use the word "collective." Another Richard, on Shelton Patch, who is awake to the threats to our nation and parental rights, wrote: "Mac, I agree with you 100%. I doubt that most people will get it...The problem is getting others to understand what is going on behind Common Core. ...They don't realize that it is about a national school curriculum based on environmentalism and a new world order. Literature and poems have no place in Common Core. By High School the students will be learning from books like Mao's "Little Red Book." Critical thinking skills will be lost and anyone that strays from the group mindset will be ostracized. You, Lisa, and I get it. I will spend my time redirecting my children from their daily indoctrination. I won't waste my time trying to convince others. What you and I write today will, in 10 years, be considered political Blasphemy. We will be threatened that our children will be taken away because we are not 'fit' parents. Common Core is coming and there is nothing you or I can do about it. Right now all people see is the money. The language has been changed; it's now about the money ...I stand behind my children because I love them; the socialists stand behind other people's children and use them as shields. We will never win that debate. Social progressives always use children. (Hitler Youth, Mao's Red Guard)" shelton.patch.com//articles/we-are-failing-our-children-by-not-having-full-day-kindergarten
MAC April 10, 2013 at 10:37 PM
As you are a good man, Tom, I PLEAD with you to educate yourself on the facts of Common Core--and ditch the red herrings! We are already seeing a downtrend in the competitiveness of U.S. college graduates in the competitive international world of business; and this affects the future economic prospects of ALL Americans--not just individual graduates and their families! The national Common Core State Standards (the “Standards”) were not created by the states, but rather by private organizations in Washington, DC, with lavish funding from private entities such as the Gates Foundation, and George Soros. Contrary to previous claims by their creators, the Standards are not “internationally benchmarked.” "States that adopt the Standards [inc. CT] must accept them word for word and will have little opportunity to add content, the states must relinquish their autonomy over public education, all to the denigration of parents’ rights." http://americanprinciplesproject.org/wp-content/uploads/2013/04/Controlling-Education-From-the-Top-2013.pdf
Bill Holden April 11, 2013 at 12:31 AM
Please name each time that the BoE budget request has been recommended 100% as requested in the last 40 years. Let's not look at just the last few years. Bonding has been used for technology as well, going back to when computers were first introduced in the elementary schools.
Bill Holden April 11, 2013 at 12:40 AM
If you do not believe that your children belong to you and your wife, I feel sorry for you. I guess many custody battles have been fought for no reason since the kids do not belong to the parents (in your world).
Jose April 11, 2013 at 01:22 AM
Nothing like extreme views to unite people! Hasn't there been enough damage to the national Republican party because of stubborn, exclusive, and antiquated views on guns, religion, a woman's right to choose, gay marriage, health care and definately education (let's not forgot we are spending so much $ on testing not curriculum, teachign and learning because of Mr. Bush and Margaret Spellings his Ed Secretary.) Just watch Dick Cheney's own documentary on Showtime to finally hear from his mouth that he twice failed out of Yale. The common core is about raising standards and make an attempt to establish standards across local districts and across the country. No longer is it acceptable to meet minimum standards or to care just about your own community. Of course you would be for status quo, people hate change, especially those who fear diversity and equality. I am not a socialist, I just don't choose to be ignorant like you.
Joan April 11, 2013 at 01:37 AM
Oh, no, not the new world order! Where did I put my tinfoil hat?!
Joan April 11, 2013 at 01:44 AM
Something tells me that "MAC" probably isn't as concerned about a group like ALEC (American Legislative Exchange Council)--funded by corporations and right-wing interests--writing legislation that our Republican Congressmen try to pass into law. If we are seeing a decline in the competitiveness of U.S. college graduates, it's not because of the Common Core of Standards, but more likely because of GOP-led efforts to make cuts to education at every turn.

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