1. #1
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    Default Taunton, MA Cuts Nearly Half of Public Safety Force

    WJAR NBC 10

    TAUNTON, Mass. -- Taunton is cutting public safety officers to cope with a budget deficit, News Channel 10's Kim Keough reported.

    City residents call the cuts "dangerous."

    Taunton is facing a $6.8 million shortfall. But instead of raising taxes and fees, the city is laying off firefighters and police officers.

    "We have to have the revenues and the expenditures balanced as of July 1," Mayor Ted Strojny said.

    Of 164 layoffs, 97 will be firefighers and police officers, Keough reported.

    "As a resident, I think it's appalling," Paul Damon said. "We have city property in the city of Taunton that can be sold instead of laying off public safety officials."

    As of Friday afternoon, the Fire Department laid off 50 firefighters from a force of 128.

    "We have a normal house fire, we send three engines. Right now, we'll send three engines to a normal house fire. So, if they have these layoffs and close three stations, we only have two engines to start with," said Lee Beauvais, president of the firefighters' union.

    On Monday, the Police Department will shrink as well, from 14 officers per shift to four officers.

    "People will die as a result of these decisions," Chief Raymond O'Berg said bluntly.

    The mayor said the city will begin rehiring laid off workers as soon as the city begins to recover revenue.

    ---------------------------------------

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    If city "managers" can't manage their cities without cutting vital and needed services, then they should quit or be fired. Cities should manage their resources better or raise taxes. I personally live in a city that refuses to raise taxes to even the state average. As long as the people are receiving what they pay for and the services are needed, then I'm all for raising of taxes. Cities that have larger budgets and more employees for their recreation departments than they do for their fire or police departments need to re-evaluate their policies. Emergency services first; then the kids can go play ball.

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    Thumbs down Good Point!

    Saw an Engine the other day, crew was a Driver and an Officer. Same day, Same town, saw a trash truck. Trash truck had a Driver, Officer, AND 2 ON THE BACK STEP. Priorities?? Tell me about it. Oh, and that damn back step that is so dangerous for Firefighters? Funny that the trash guys have no problems with it. But then, there's no NFPA giving orders to the trash truck manufacturers is there?? (No, I'm NOT saying get back on the step again.)
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    Hwoods,talk about annoying NORAC is trying to outlaw rideing on the steps or front decks of locomotives. I really hope that dont happen cause thats going to get annoying in the yard. I am happy though my trolley museum or motorcar club does not fall under FRA or NORAC guidelines.

    I hope those jakes get rehired soon.

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    Default Re: Taunton, MA Cuts Nearly Half of Public Safety Force

    Originally posted by CollegeBuff
    As of Friday afternoon, the Fire Department laid off 50 firefighters from a force of 128.

    On Monday, the Police Department will shrink as well, from 14 officers per shift to four officers.

    "People will die as a result of these decisions," Chief Raymond O'Berg said bluntly.[/B]
    Are they INSANE!! Why doesn't the city administration take cut in their most likely outrageous salery instead of hanging up a sign that says "Rape, Rob, Murder, and Burn This City".
    Even the burger-flippers at McDonald's probably have some McWackers.

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    Thumbs down Bean counters

    City admininstrators take a CUT? Yah right,when pigs fly!Heeellllooo,nobody could see revenues dwindling?This happens overnight,like am I the only one who DOESN"T think the economys wonderful.Does ANYONE in DC except our brothers and sisters even have a CLUE?Taunton on a full boat doesn't have a full crew much less on this rowboat.This is like signing a death warrant.I've never seen such BS with the exception of NYC cutting our peoples throats down there too.T.C.

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    Its all a calculated trick, to cut the money that comes back the fastest.
    If they did their homework and cut the things that need cutting, the money comes back slower, so they instead pork these dedicated individuals, and the citizens.

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    Heeellllooo,nobody could see revenues dwindling?
    Unfortunately for many in Massachusetts when the new Governor took over, the last administration had not yet approved a budget. Soooooo.....The new administration took drastic steps to try and reduce the budget shortfall for the current fiscal year. How you say? But cutting State aid to local Towns and Cities. Unfortunately most Towns and Cities had already made their budgets with projected funds from the State. Do you see where this is going? The State cuts the funds and Cities and Towns, already in finacial straights, are forced to make adjustments. Unfortunately many chose to layoffs as the solution, since you can't raise taxes mid year. For those that think this year’s cuts are bad, they say next year will be worse.

    What I don't understand is this. How can you take a force of 128 reduce it by 50 and expect it to function? I am not even talking about function safely, just function period.

    I come even closer to home...2 Towns over, voters just approved an override to hire 12 firefighters, promote 4 Lieutenants and man a third station. Yet in my Town, up until 1 month ago, layoffs were being considered. Yarmouth will add 12 firefighters and run with 3 stations. 2 stations with and engine and ambulance and 3 firefighters, one station with a minimum or 5 or 6 Firefighters. And yet my Town, with a manning of 3 Firefighters per station, similar setup vehicle wise...was going to lay people off.

    Why is Public Safety the easy target? Why are we still being told we are the "First Line of Defense", when they are cutting us back to the bone? Does it take less manpower to fight fire in Harwich than in Yarmouth? or Danbury than in Worcester? Or in, well you get my point. City managers have it in for us, well not all City managers, but many. We are the easy "big budget" targets. We are still perceived as checker playing, coffee drinking, too much time on our hands employees, that now happen to also be the first line of defense when the poop hits the spinning wheel. So rather than support us and raise appropriations to support our needs, they cut us to the bone and force us to do more with less. And the really stupid part is that we will.....We always have!

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    hfd66 -

    Let me just say that I think that this may be a reasoning behind why public safety is being hit in Massachusetts. Mind you I am also a person who is quite upset at the schools districts.

    If you cut public safety how many people come out of the woodwork to voice their displeasure, other than the peopel who are directly affected - i.e. Police officers, Firefighters, DPW workers.

    Now switch tracks. When a town announces cuts to the schools the newspapers print these grandiose articles, the school committee atarts ranting and raving, the Mass. Teacher's Association starts playing TV ads to "Raise the Revenues" (Have you seen this foolishness), students start protesting against the cuts, the schools start printing take home surveys and flyers to bring home to mommy and daddy. In essence it is easier politically to cut public safety because the backlash is MUCH less intense and shorter lasting from the voters. The schools have public safety beat on organization and noisemaking.

    Now, as for Masachusetts -

    1) Even if that half-wit O'Brien had won the situation would have been the same - cuts in local aid.

    2) Everyone criticizes Romney for his plans but no one goes after the exploding spending in the state legislature, when they tell everyone else to cut and tighten the belts, they continue to give themselves pay raises and do what they want.

    3) The state and every community was advised that the economy was not going to be good forever and that they should control spending and plan for the bad times ahead. I know of only a very few towns that did this. When the rainclouds came all we hear is whining? Who is at fault for this?

    4) In an area of the country wiht one of the most expensive costs of living and at the third highest taxed state in the country people do not even want to hear that taxes are going up faster than inflation.

    Me, I am a laid off firefighter due to the state's ineptness. I hold absolutely no animosity against the voters in my town for not voting for the 2 1/2 override that cost me my job because they are taxed to the hilt by the town and the school budget comprises about 70% of the town's budget and keeps taking more money every year. The town was and is sick of it.
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    You know Sharkie....it always comes back to that argument, but I am not always sure that its right. and You kinda missed some of my point.

    The very people; city managers, mayors, etc etc, that say we are the "first line of defense" are also the first to cut us. Now I understand that laying off 5 firefighters in my Town(hypothetically) would have less of an impact on service than laying off 5 DPW workers. Number for number, there are more of us than them. But so what if my road doesn't get swept this week, or the puddle in my street is there a month or two longer.

    You blame the schools, but yet aren't you saying that they are better at this game than us? So who is wrong? Personally, as a taxpayer, I would rather see an increase in my taxes, than say class size go from 20 to 30. I would rather see an increase than say 2 man engines instead of 3. Its the cost of doing business. And an educated voter is a better one. Maybe we should all go back to school and learn how to fight for our budgets.

    I agree that no matter who won the picture would be the same. But I do not agree that the solutions would have been (and I am not saying O'brien would have done better). Town budgets are planned 9 to 12 months before they are put into effect (at least in our Town, where budget planning begins in Sept or Oct for the budget that begins in the following July) So for Towns to have a Town meeting, approve the budget, set the tax rate and then have the State remove funding that was included in that process...thats like you paying your credit card bill by check and then having your employers say that he cut your salary in half this week. There had to be a better way to do it, and Romney saying "these cuts should not be directed at public safety" doesn't cover it.......

    To reduce fire staffing by alomost half in a city the size of Taunton is criminal. To have 4 police officers on the street is assinine....

    There are other solutions my friend...

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    Taunton PD's union stormed out of a meeting with the city council today, apparently after a very heated argument. Something to do with the council doing a lot of talking and not a lot of listening. I could be wrong, I only half-heard it.

    A map was displayed on the news last night showing the planned deployment of the 4 officers per shift.

    1, 1-man patrol car on one side of town.

    1, 1-man patrol car on the other side of town.

    1, 2-man paddy wagon in the middle.
    Last edited by CollegeBuff; 06-03-2003 at 01:40 AM.

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    Lets just hope a conflagration of biblical proportions dont hit Taunton. 4 LEO's is INSANE.

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    You blame the schools, but yet aren't you saying that they are better at this game than us?
    I thought that was my point. They are much better organized than public safety. My point about the schools is that they are taking a very disproportionate portion of the money for which there is little to no accountability.

    When I was in school, only 11 years ago mind you, I had classes that were 25 - 30 students, and sometimes more. They spent about $3500 to $4000 per pupil on us. Now classes have "been reduced" to 20 pupils adn they spend $8000 to $10000 per student in the public schools.

    With this improvement - the money has not produced the result that it should. Test scores are stagnant or down and children are not being taught what they need to be taught to get through life in modern times. Textbooks are factually wrong, nevermind that they are politically correct. Take a look at a school budget, it's a joke. All funds are in blocks and the school budgets presented are very rarely line items. In addition, 80 - 90 percent of the school budget is salaries so explain to me exactly how an increase in school spending benefits the kids? Capital improvements within the schools on an annual basis do not happen. Where is the money going? All I want is accountability and I am not getting it. Police, Fire, DPW, city hall, public health all have to justify their budgets but the school district just comes in and says I want x million this year and they get it no questions asked. Finally though, people are catching on and not giving in.

    I just want accountability. One department habitually not being touched while others are being slashed is worng. What good is it to have schools when other services for the community are diminished tremendously?

    As for the towns laying out there budgets months in advance - I understand that, but for the last 10 years we heard people screaming into the wind to stop government growth at teh rate it was, save the money, and plan for the bad times. Very few people listened to the economists and ****ed away the money - people from Taunton, to Springfield, to Boston, to the nitwits on Beacon Hill. Now they are all surprised. Who is to blame for this?
    "Too many people spend money they haven't earned, to buy things they don't want, to impress people they don't like." Will Rogers

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    The big problem is with "special education", mandated by the State.

    We have 64 "special education" students with severe handicaps and disabilities that go to schoolds outside of the City and State. Their edication is mandated by the State. Guess who picks up the tab? that's right we do. In my community, $500K is spent on just TWO "students"!

    In my community, 41 city employees will be laid off, including 6 cops and 4 firefighters on July 1. We are already down 6 positions due to medical leave and IOD. There may be enough retirements to save the FD jobs, but the total that the City has to spend on "special education" ($1.7 Million) would save all of the jobs slated to be cut. If the State mandates it, then the State should pick up the tab.
    Last edited by CaptainGonzo; 06-03-2003 at 09:33 AM.
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    Schools are better at using the "system" to mandate things.

    We have special education, like Gonzo points out.

    We also have very high education requirements -- it takes 5 years of college in my state to teach Kindergarten. I'm sorry, but I have a hard time believing you need a masters-level of education at the grade and even high school level.

    A culture of lateral transfers has taken root in education. That's not necessarily bad, and it does reflect the society as a whole. But still, it puts upward pressure on all towns to meet the "average" salary less they lose teachers who jump ship for more money.

    With size comes power. There's more teachers out there than cops or firefighters, and they have more taxpayers they influence on a regular basis.

    Misguided state "fairness" mandates also hurt. My town doesn't have a high school. We used to designate one, but kids could attend others if their parents made up the difference in tuition -- usually $500 to $1000/yr. It was a nice option to choose a better fitting school than the one most students went to. Today my town *must* pay the whole tuition to wherever the student choses to go.

    In the early 90s, binding arbitration took its toll. Contracts in Connecticut almost always included 10% pay raises for 3 consecutive years -- that's something like a 40% raise in one contract, and a 40% increase it what's already the largest portion of the biggest budget item in the town budget!

    Finally, class sizes. When I went to school, 30 was standard and the teachers wanted 25. Now 25 is considered large, and they aim for 20. Well, first you need more teachers cause a grade that used to have 4 teachers now needs 6. Then you need to build bigger schools 'cause you need more classrooms. The town next to me where about half our kids go to high school is now building a new high school. They have fewer students than in the 1970s when the school was new -- but today, they have more teachers so they need more classrooms, so they need $35million for a new building!

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    Crean: Trash fee or layoffs

    By MARC FORTIER

    Staff writer

    BEVERLY -- Mayor Thomas Crean dropped a difficult decision in the City Council's lap last night: Endorse a trash pickup fee that would cost the average homeowner $14 a month, or lay off 33 people.

    Despite state funding cuts, Crean's proposed 2004 budget of $80 million -- an increase of $146,235 over this year's budget -- does not call for any layoffs. Instead, he has proposed charging a citywide trash pickup fee that would raise $1.8 million and avoid a deficit.

    "This is our solution to the problem," Crean said. "It's not something we wanted to do. It's not something we're doing lightly."

    It will be up to the council to decide whether to approve the fee. The alternative, Crean said, is to eliminate 40 jobs, seven of which would be vacated by retirements.

    The cuts would be in addition to the 15 positions that have remained empty over the past year due to early retirement and other departures.

    "We've made so many cuts already that we're at the point where it really has come down to people," Crean said.

    And that doesn't include the 10 positions the School Committee has proposed eliminating.

    The trash fee Crean is proposing would cost the average homeowner $44 per quarter, about $14 a month. He plans to charge a flat fee for the first six months, switching over to a pay-as-you-throw system in January.

    "This (flat) fee is intended to be an interim measure, to be in place less than a year, to prevent cutting into the muscle and bone of city services," Crean said.

    He said the pay-as-you-throw system would allow each household to throw out one 30-gallon or 30-pound container of trash per week at no charge. Stickers that will cost $2.75 will be required for each additional container per household.

    The trash fee will include a three-year sunset clause, allowing the city to revisit the idea in 2006. At that time, the pay-as-you-throw system could be eliminated, or the fees could be lowered.

    Some city councilors have balked at the idea of a trash fee, saying residents are already strapped for cash. Crean said that because residents are allowed one free bag a week, it would not have a serious financial impact on residents living on fixed incomes.

    "Between that and recycling, that should be enough for those on a fixed income," Crean said.

    Though Crean said he didn't want to impose a trash fee, he asserted it is the only way the city can continue to provide the same level of services it has in the past in the face of declining state aid.

    "He's got an obligation to deliver services, and that's what it's come to," said Rob Valliere, Crean's chief of staff. "He wouldn't be doing his job if he just cut."

    Crean's proposed $79,997,086 budget for the fiscal year beginning July 1 exceeds this year's $79,850,851 spending plan by 0.18 percent

    "This budget represents a thoughtful attempt to preserve core city services as we move through the worst financial crisis in decades," Crean said. "It is my belief that it is both balanced and fair, and will enable the city to weather this crisis with the least possible disruption."

    Valliere said the budget is "essentially level from last year," with the increases due mostly to health insurance, pensions, and salary step increases that are guaranteed by contract.

    "It was tight coming in," Valliere said. "So now it's really tight."

    The budget includes $35.8 million for the schools, a decrease of about $1 million from this year. When school revenues are factored in, the education budget swells to $37.6 million.

    That is still $1.6 million short of the $39.2 million budget approved by the School Committee last week. But the School Committee hopes to bridge that gap in the coming weeks by selling the unused Edwards School and encouraging staff to retire through incentives.

    The budget included no raises for department heads, except for Finance Director Thomas Durkin, whose salary will increase from $70,000 to $77,962.

    City councilors scheduled a number of budget hearings last night for what looks to be a busy month. The first of those hearings will be held on Wednesday at 7 p.m. at City Hall, focusing on the school budget. A final vote on the budget is slated for June 26.

    The council does not have the power to add money to the budget, only to make any decreases it deems necessary.

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    Funny, this city faces a severe finanical crisis yet I see no teacher getting cut or city counciours takeing a pay cut.

    Jobs at risk

    BEVERLY -- The following list shows the number of jobs that would have to be cut from each department if the city chooses not to implement a trash pickup fee:

    Police 19 (includes 6 retirements)

    Fire 6 (includes 1 retirement)

    City clerk 2

    Health Department 2

    Accounting 1

    Assessors 1

    City solicitor 1

    Council on Aging 1

    Elections 1

    Engineering 1

    Harbormaster 1

    Human resources 1

    Information services (IT) 1

    Library 1

    Planning 1

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    Despite state funding cuts, Crean's proposed 2004 budget of $80 million -- an increase of $146,235 over this year's budget -- does not call for any layoffs. Instead, he has proposed charging a citywide trash pickup fee that would raise $1.8 million and avoid a deficit.

    This, remember, is partly "trickle down" as tax receipts at the state & federal level decline from a combination of tax cuts & income declines (mainly less capital gains from the stock market), there's less aid going federal to state, and state to local.

    My town is looking at about 2.5% increase in our budget. Thankfully the schools which take 80% of our budget have a responsible 2.4% increase, and the General government is looking at 3% but I know that's being trimmed.

    Yet for only 2.5% raise in local spending (i.e. keeping up with inflation), we're looking at a 10% increase in local taxes.

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    On the news tonight I heard that the mayor of Taunton is getting in a little bit of trouble with the city council, because he paid overtime to all the FF's who are to be laid off so that they all would get their pink slip before midnight on saturday

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    Agree with the previous posts that school costs are way out of whack and the powers who mandate them don't pick up the tab. You got to hand it to the teachers though, thay are pretty smart. Most of the teachers unions here in RI don't start contract negotiations until the beginning of August. So this way, when they don't get what they want they threaten to strike or in some cases actually do strike(illegal by the way but never enforced)and all the parents (aka. TAXPAYERS) just want their kids back in school call the politicians to complain about it so the pols cave into the teachers and they get what they want leaving the other municpal employees to scrape by. In my city the municipal side of the budget runs a surplus of $900,000 + every year. But the schools constantly run a deficit of over that and the school board simply says "Tough $h!t, you have to pay it, we can spend whatever we want". and the mayor and council have no say. The public only sees the ordinary municipal employee (firefighters overwhelmingly) as lazy good for nothings. Start looking at the teachers performance wise and tell me if we are truly getting the bang for the buck!!!
    "I have no ambition in this world but one, and that is to be a fireman. The position may, in the eyes of some, appear to be a lowly one; but we know the work which a fireman has to do believe that his is a noble calling."

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    Lancaster is in north-central Massachusetts, couple towns north of Worcester. Pop. 7,200 plus a small college.

    Chief warns failure of override would cripple force

    State police won't cover for police department in Lancaster Lancaster would be unprotected nights, weekends

    Karen Nugent
    TELEGRAM & GAZETTE STAFF



    LANCASTER- State police will not bail out local police to patrol Lancaster if a $2.3 million Proposition 2˝ override fails at the polls June 16, the police chief said yesterday.

    There just won't be any evening, night or weekend patrols, according to Police Chief Kevin D. Lamb, and most routine calls and complaints will go unanswered.

    "The state police will not be the primary responder to calls for service," the chief said. "But if they are available, they will provide a basic response to emergency situations only."

    Selectmen say that most other town departments would either close Oct. 1 - three months into next fiscal year - or be reduced to a minimum of services if the override does not pass.

    For example, the Thayer Memorial Library - a resource for old manuscripts and genealogical materials - would close.

    Also, the Fire Department would face a 50 percent reduction of call firefighters, and the Public Works Department would stop all line painting, sanding, sweeping of streets and tree care. Snow removal service and cemetery maintenance would be greatly reduced, and Town Hall would close and some offices would move to rented space elsewhere.

    The Council on Aging, the Community Development Office, the Recreation Department - including the town beach - and the Board of Health would be eliminated completely.

    As for police matters, "calls received during the day or from the previous night would be prioritized, and only in high priority calls would an officer actually respond in person," Chief Lamb said.

    Most calls, he said, would merely be entered in a log by the dispatcher.

    He said police would not respond for neighborhood disputes, loud music or parties, "unwanted guests," property damage, misdemeanor larcenies, simple assaults or barking dogs.

    The most common complaint the department receives, he said, is for speeding, but officers would no longer be available to enforce speed limit laws.

    The state police, Chief Lamb said, will continue to investigate major crimes, as they do in most communities.

    A proposed plan in case of a defeated override, approved by the selectmen and Finance Committee, calls for the layoffs in October of eight of the 10 full-time police officers, along with the administrative assistant - who also runs the computer network - and all of the reserve officers. That would leave just Chief Lamb and one officer.

    The force currently comprises the chief, administrative secretary, two full-time sergeants, seven full-time patrol officers and six reserve patrol officers.

    "The proposed plan allows for daytime (8 a.m. to 4 p.m.) police coverage, Monday through Friday, only," Chief Lamb said in a prepared statement.

    The selectmen said several times this year that state police would take over patrol duties if the layoffs occur. They also handed out printed statements to that effect at the annual town meeting last month.

    However, a few consultations with the commanding officer of the state police Troop C in Holden and the commanding officer of the Leominster barracks showed that with just two state police patrols covering 14 cities and towns, plus Route 2, Interstate 190 and parts of Interstate 495, there are just not enough troopers to regularly patrol Lancaster.

    Chief Lamb said "people who possess a criminal intent" would become aware there are no police officers on duty in town at night. He said he believes the crime rate, especially breaking and entering, and the number of accidents in town would soar.

    The passage of the override would result in a $1,069-a-year real estate tax increase on a house valued at $250,000. The taxes on such a house now are $3,652.43, according to information provided by selectmen.

    Historically, overrides in Lancaster have not passed. And while the town has chronic money problems, it was hit harder this year because of cuts to state aid and an increase in the Nashoba Regional School District budget, which must, by law, be paid because it was accepted in the other member towns of Bolton and Stow.

    In addition, much of Lancaster's land is owned by tax-exempt organizations, such as the state and federal governments, and the Seventh-day Adventist Church.

  22. #22
    Senior Member
    Dalmatian90's Avatar
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    My town in Connecticut is looking a 10% increase in local property taxes to support a 2.5% increase in local spending due to state aid cuts.

    But at least in these days of tight budgets, it's nice to know that State will still spend money where it's important

    UConn, State To Talk Strategy
    Lawsuit Could Be Finalized

    June 6, 2003
    By KEN DAVIS, Courant Staff Writer

    A meeting between UConn president Philip E. Austin, UConn athletic director Lew Perkins and state Attorney General Richard Blumenthal has been scheduled for this morning in the office of Gov. John G. Rowland. The inclusion of Blumenthal indicates plans could be finalized for a lawsuit against Miami, Syracuse, Boston College and the Atlantic Coast Conference.

    Miami, Boston College and Syracuse are expected to announce next week that they have accepted membership offers from the Atlantic Coast Conference and could leave the Big East as soon as 2004. The possibility of litigation was first raised during the annual Big East Conference meetings last month in Ponte Vedra, Fla., but action has not been taken during discussions intended to keep the conference together.

  23. #23
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    DeputyChiefGonzo's Avatar
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    I feel that tax exempt properties should be paying a fee in lieu of taxes. They use the services of the community just like the taxpayer, yet pay $0!

    Freeloaders!
    ‎"The education of a firefighter and the continued education of a firefighter is what makes "real" firefighters. Continuous skill development is the core of progressive firefighting. We learn by doing and doing it again and again, both on the training ground and the fireground."
    Lt. Ray McCormack, FDNY

  24. #24
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    Originally posted by CaptainGonzo
    I feel that tax exempt properties should be paying a fee in lieu of taxes. They use the services of the community just like the taxpayer, yet pay $0!

    Freeloaders!
    Providence College, Brown University, Rhode Island School of Design, and Johnson and Wales University own considerable property in the city of Providence. They recently entered an agreement to provide the city, instead of regular taxes, with I believe 20-something million over the next 10-20 years COMBINED. Brown's endowment alone is a BILLION dollars, and yet they have to team up with 3 or 4 other schools to shell out 20 million in pocket change spread over decades???

    The rescue runs, auto alarms, and police visits of the past to those buildings and campuses are worth a lot more than Cicillene let them off with, nevermind the future! Tax em all!!!

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