Imagine that, Vernon: $218,000 in cost reductions
Letters to the Editor
By Jason L. McCoy
I opened a recent Vernon Town Council meeting, as I have done for last two years, by giving an executive summary of where the town is, projects being worked on, events I have participated in, and general progress of the town.
I shared what I thought was great news. I informed the council that we saved $90,000 by moving nonunion employees to Heath Savings Accounts; that cleaning contracts were re-bid, reducing that cost by $20,000; that we have set in motion the move to P-Cards, electronic purchasing, and implementation of permissions and codes, resulting in savings of $108,000, not to mention the time reduction spent by staff under the old process.
Imagine that: $218,000 in cost reductions.
Good news, right? Maybe a smooth night at a Vernon Town Council meeting.
Oh no, not quite.
Not a single comment, concern, or request about those savings by Councilwoman Marie Herbst and her gang.
But the Herbst gang did move to the usual innuendo and misstatements, soaring off track into a grammar school test on the definition of the word "intern," moving on to complain about photographs at Vernon parades and events.
I want Vernon citizens to know that these savings occur because this administration pushes forward (yes, I do mean push) on a regular basis — not at the last minute, not on the day before the municipal budget is due, but regularly.
We continuously move forward on policy initiatives and changes to achieve cost reductions or savings, to spur economic growth and fiscal responsibility with your tax money.
I guess at this point it may seem commonplace under my administration, maybe even expected—and it should be. But these are not simple matters and are not commonplace in government. They require persistence, long-term planning, and careful consideration as to impacts and implications in other areas such as labor relations.
The cost reductions listed above, along with forward thinking and persistence on a regular basis over the past four years, have come in handy allowing Vernon to be ahead of the state of Connecticut's revenue curveball thrown at every municipality around the state each year. The state's revenue curveball has come every year when the legislature will not finalize a budget or they cannot get spending on labor to fall in line with proposed or adopted budgets, or labor concessions have not come through.
Connecticut municipality budgeting requirements do not allow municipalities to set budgets the way the state plays. This governor has made it clear that he likes the municipal budget rules as opposed to the state budget game, but I digress.
Let me point out that since being elected by Vernon citizens in 2007, I have never complained about the debt situation incurred before I took office as mayor. I handled it, budgeted for it, and made sure we paid it, while improving our credit rating; we have even reduced it, through early repayment at one point.
Simply stated, I ran for this position. I have never complained about the extremely generous union contracts that were handed out before I was elected to the 15-plus labor unions.
I have patiently waited until contracts came up for negotiation and meticulously renegotiated contracts for the benefit of Vernon citizens and the employees because the interests of both groups actually meet when you consider the future affordability.
I am proud to tell you that it looks like we saved you $218,000. If we don't get a curveball and revenue comes in as predicted, we can accelerate capital improvements and reduce the next budget or maybe pay some debt off.
Tell those folks who polarize everything to pay attention to what counts — your services and your money.
Thank you for allowing me to serve as your mayor.
The writer is mayor of Vernon.