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Ansonia Democrats: Mayor Imposing ‘Rushed Spending Of Mass Proportions’

by Ansonia Democrats | GUEST COLUMN | May 18, 2017 12:29 pm

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Posted to: Ansonia Budget 2017-2018, Guest Column

It’s been 14 weeks since the ADTC broke news on the unprecedented level of spending from Mayor Cassetti and the city’s unsustainable financial path. We’re still waiting for response from Mayor Cassetti.

Just weeks ago, during the height of budget season, with looming budget shortfalls for this current fiscal year, and significant cuts to city services in the upcoming budget, Mayor Cassetti decided to divert everyone’s attention.

Instead of coming up with a better budget that doesn’t underfund schools, close the library, and cut youth services, Mayor Cassetti announced a sudden and rushed proposal to change the new police station site, to be reviewed and decided upon within weeks. Never in Ansonia’s history has such a large sum of taxpayer’s money ($12MM) been spent with such little discussion or planning.

This method of governing has become routine for Cassetti, creating self-imposed emergencies requiring swift unquestioned action. Like when Cassetti fired Winter’s Brothers as the city’s garbage collector, then issued a “temporary emergency” no-bid contract worth millions, which is still in effect over a year later, and pending a lawsuit costing taxpayers $40,000 to date.

Cassetti makes no case as to why this important PD decision needed to be rushed, but he was in such a rush that Aldermen voted on this $12 million deal before the public got to see the terms of the deal! Blank check, sign your life away, hand shake, unquestioned emergency spending of mass proportions.

This deal removes 73,000 square feet of prime tax paying downtown real estate from the tax rolls, demolishes a historic building, fails to exclusively secure the municipal parking lot, waives $500K+ in blight fines, and comes at a purchase price double the appraised cost of the building.

As a fan of Donald Trump, Mayor Cassetti should’ve read “The Art of the Deal.” Cassetti came to the deal table during election season with no alternative viable location for the police station. This put the city in a weak negotiating position which could’ve been easily avoided had Cassetti exercised some patience or planning. Instead, Cassetti spent two years ignoring everyone’s advice about the obvious flood zone restrictions at Olson Drive, and gave numerous interviews telling taxpayers the station MUST go on Olson Drive to reduce housing units. Cassetti waited until the 11th hour to determine Olson Drive wasn’t desirable, even though no unit reduction agreement from HUD has ever been presented to residents.

Ansonia Democrats favor well planned development with public input and engagement, but oppose rushed, unquestioned, financially inefficient development. Despite flaws, Cassetti’s deals could benefit the city long term, but short-term they’ll strain the city financially. This deal loses $37,000 per year in taxes from 65 Main St., and gains $19,000 per year from development of the ATP/Palmer buildings, netting a loss to the city of $18,000 per year in tax revenue.

These development plans call for 200 to 600+ new residents, some will be children that’ll attend Ansonia schools, which isn’t a bad thing necessarily, but the added costs to an already cash strapped school system needs to be accounted for. These short-term financial challenges should’ve been discussed at length with the public and among the Aldermen before a vote was taken.

This isn’t the open, financially prudent, transparent leadership that residents voted for.

NOTE: This is a group letter written and endorsed by the members of the Ansonia Town Democratic Committee.

Views expressed in guest columns and press releases do not necessarily reflect the views of ValleyIndy.org. The Valley Indy has a 550-word limit on guest columns.

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