Stamford residents looking forward to the July 4th fireworks show should start planning a trip out of town after the city's first round of budget cuts nix the show along with several other city amenities.
Mayor David Martin said the cuts were necessary after the Board of Representatives imposed a $1.4 million unidentified general cut to the city’s budget:
“As Mayor, I strongly disagree with the general cut made by the Board of Representatives to the City’s budget," Martin said in a statement following the cuts. "It will have a disproportionate impact on services provided to residents, without meaningful tax relief. "
The first cuts account for about $400,000, with additional cuts coming for the remaining $1 million.
Pointing his finger to the board, the Mayor said because the members couldn't agree on specific areas to cut, “they shifted the responsibility for this excessive cut back to the mayor’s office.”
Events and services in the Parks & Recreation area that will be cut include:
- Cancellation of the annual July 4th fireworks event at Cummings Beach. Savings are from both the direct cost of fireworks as well as additional overtime for operations and police personnel. The total savings (including the elimination of the smaller Harborfest fireworks in August) is calculated at $95,000.
- Cleaning park beaches during regular operating hours rather than early in the morning in order to reduce overtime. Beaches will be cleaned during regular business hours, which reduces available hours for mowing, landscaping and general park cleanup. Additionally, summer beach maintenance will stop on October 1 instead of the usual October 15. This will save $60,000.
- Discontinue lining ballfields on weekends. Teams will need to line their own fields if the lines fade during the weekend. This is expected to save the city $30,000.
- Eliminating lifeguards at Cove’s Quigley Beach. For safe swimming, residents will need to use Stamford’s other guarded beaches. This will save the city $19,000.
"Despite these service reductions, the majority of services in Parks & Recreation will continue," Martin said. "The plan is for the parks, beaches, and ballfields to continue to remain open as they have in the past. All recreation programs, the costs of which are largely offset by fee revenues, will continue. And the Memorial Day and Veterans Day parades and other annual parades such as St. Patrick’s Day, Columbus Day, and the Downtown Special Services District Thanksgiving Parade will continue."
The mayor is additional cuts are needed, he will consider reducing the tram at Cove Island for a savings of $20,000, doing away with early-morning hockey practice for high school teams for a savings of $6,000, and cutting Sunday garbage pickup in parks and downtown for a savings of $63,000.
Decisions will be made over the next several weeks for additional service cuts to make up the $1 million still needed. Those cuts will come likely come from Public Safety, Operations, Finance & Administration, and general government including the Mayor’s Office, Town Clerk, and the elected Boards, he added.
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