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Raslan: 3 Million Reasons Ansonia Must Make a Change

by Tarek Raslan | GUEST COLUMN | Oct 5, 2017 3:16 pm

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Posted to: Ansonia, Ansonia Election 2017, Letters To The Editor

Last year Ansonia lost $3.18 million. Figures can be checked in the 2016 City Audit at my website.

Revenue is Down and Spending Is Up

Under “Team Cassetti,” our city’s income fell by $1.3 million, while city spending rose by $4.3 million. Our city’s savings account dropped by 24% last year as a result. It’s unsustainable.

Our Reserve Fund (Savings Account) is Falling

The last reported savings account balance was $9,874,101 published June 30, 2016. When questioned about the $3.18 million deficit, “Team Cassetti” says there’s enough money in our savings account. They’re right. A savings account balance that is 8% of the yearly budget is considered average. For example, last year Ansonia spent $70 million… So 8% of $70 million would tell us that we should keep at least $5.6 million in the savings account. If we drop below this level our lenders start to notice, our credit rating suffers, and we leave our community vulnerable to any unplanned costs.

Are we In Trouble Yet?

Last year we lost money at $265,000 a month. This would place our savings account balance at roughly $5.9 million today, which is still average. However, Cassetti’s not stopping there, the approved 2017-2018 budget called for taking another $3,490,000, bringing our savings down to $2,410,000 by next summer, and a zero balance by early 2019. Cassetti’s own budget consultant Thomas Thompson was quoted saying the budget was “very dangerous… getting way too low.”

Brace for Impact

Cassetti’s approach to sell assets, borrow, and spend down our savings does nothing to change our longterm budget woes, and in many ways makes them much worse. I hope everyone’s done a better job of managing their own finances, because we all need to brace for impact next summer.

What Can We Do About It & Where Did the Money Go?

By next summer, win or lose, Cassetti will have spent $10.6 million from the savings account, that’s nearly enough to pay for the new police station…instead it’s saved the average homeowner $17 a month for four years, and this year resulted in cuts to the police, library, sports, boys & girls club, and largest underfunding of our schools since the 2008 recession. We need a different approach to economic growth and tax stability. My experience in real estate will help attract new development, but stability can’t come through development alone. In order to make up for Cassetti’s $4.2 million spending increase, we would’ve needed an additional $112 million in new development, that’s 13 Big Y Plazas built and paying taxes every four years. It’s not possible…Tax bills go up…The only way residents can hope to get a good deal out of rising city costs is by having property prices rise faster, so at least we gain some equity in our homes. Unfortunately Ansonia home prices are down $68,000 over the last 10 years.

If we want property prices to rise, we need to make necessary investments in education, safety, parks, job training, entrepreneurship, recreation, and creative culture. Tax stability comes from community innovation, my background in real estate, finance, economics and marketing has me prepared for the job.

The author, a Democrat, is running for mayor in the City of Ansonia.

Views expressed in guest columns (aka ‘letters to the editor’) and press releases do not necessarily reflect the views of The Valley Indy has a 550-word limit on guest columns.

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