s we begin 2013, we need to consider what have we learned from 2012 that will make 2013 better? We did learn that hundreds of thousands of dollars were stolen from the city coffers. We know that the than finance director was put on leave and has now retired. We learned that the Assistant Finance Director was allowed to resign and a lien was placed on her home. We also learned that a new Finance Director and Assistant Director were hired. Finally we learned that there is an ongoing criminal investigation.
What didn’t we learn form 2012? We didn’t learn if the city, as required in the Charter, had a fraud bond to provide payment for any stolen money. We didn’t learn how the fraud was perpetrated and maybe we won’t until the criminal investigation is over. We didn’t learn what steps the city is taking to prevent this type of fraud in the future. We didn’t learn why the independent auditors hired by the city to catch such actions didn’t.
So moving into 2013 we still must wonder what is going on in the city Finance Department and when will we learn what happened.
We also learned in 2012 that Fire Code violations still exist at Shelton High School. This is after a committee chaired by our mayor has not installed a second egress door in the windowless classrooms or installed sprinklers. I know only people and paper will burn but come on; how long does it take to make these needed corrections? We bend over backwards for developers and we can’t fix a problem that places children at risk.
We also learned that gun violence can happen anywhere. What can we do in 2013 to prevent tragedies like Newtown? Well, we could start by banning weapons from all city property. This won’t stop a person intent on killing, but it does send a message that we as a community believe there are places that weapons of any type do not belong.
The new year will bring new challenges and old ones still remain The state is facing more red ink and cuts will most likely be made. It is possible that the city will receive less money from the state and we property owners will have to make up the difference or the city will have to reduce its budget for 2013-2014.
The Board of Education has submitted a budget that requests a modest increase. After several years of no increase or minimal increase, the modest increase seems reasonable. It is odd that the city side of the budget has increased every year while the education side has not. But we do have much better roads, right? But wait, those repairs are being paid for with bond money. So what better programs or services we are getting from the city for the increase in their side of the budget? Perhaps the mayor will address this when he presents his 2013-2014 budget.
David Gioiello is the chair of Shelton’s Democratic Town Committee.