When Hartford Mayor Pedro Segarra presented his budget a few weeks ago, he said this:
“I’ve reduced the size of the mayor’s office by over a million dollars.”
Let’s take a look.
The mayor’s proposed budget for his office this year is about $700,000. That’s the same as it was last year, and a lot less than it was in the FY 2010 fiscal year – the last budget of former Mayor Eddie Perez. When he left, the mayor’s office adopted budget was $1.6 million. So that’s where it looks like the mayor may have trimmed his budget.
But if you look through the budgets, you see that while Segarra reduced his support services budget, he’s also simply moved a bunch of functions elsewhere. So while the communications department used to be under the mayor’s office, now it has its own budget. And while the office of the chief operating officer used to be under the mayor’s office, now it has its own budget, too.
Which is all to say that while Segarra may have trimmed his office with real savings, he also did it by farming out some functions to other places in the city budget.
We asked Chief of Staff Jared Kupiec to respond. Here’s his explanation. Happy reading.
Part of the reduction was in fact moving various positions out of the office that really shouldn’t have been there in the first place, chief among them the CIP operation. We transferred the 311 operation to ES&T in order to provide for greater professionalization of the office; enhance data collection and analysis; and improve overall operations. In FY 11-12, the COO’s operation was broken out in order to show greater transparency in office operations and the Communications division, which still reports to the Mayor and whose budget I oversee, was further segregated as all department PIO positions (with the exception of Police and Fire) were eliminated with the goal of streamlining the communications strategy to best meet the Mayor’s mission, vision and 4 Goals. Communications also absorbed the print shop, which previously was managed by the Department of Management & Budget.
This year, the only new addition to either the Mayor’s or Communication’s budget is a position to oversee and manage the Mayor’s Opportunities Hartford initiative — even with this addition, the overall recommended appropriation for Communications and New Media is slightly less than the 2011-2012 adopted number. I have attached brochures that were completed at the end of both Phase I and Phase II of this project for your review.
Of note, the flat-lining of the Mayor’s Office recommended budget makes it one of about 7 departments (including Communications & New Media) that saw either a decrease or no increase in their FY 12-13 budgets.
To your other point, yes, there has indeed been some growth in the COO’s budget to accommodate the Livable & Sustainable Neighborhoods Initiative, which we launched last year to combat blight and move forward with critical neighborhood improvements
As you may know, in 2008-2009, the adopted payroll number for the Mayor’s office was $1,514,630, including $805,628 for support services payroll. In 2009-2010 the number dropped slightly to $1.4 million and in 2010-2011 it dropped to $1.1 million. In 2011-2012, the administration line was reduced by the Mayor to $415,550 and the overall budget to $584,209. For FY 12-13, because of several well-deserved promotions, the payroll number will be increased slightly to $613,702.
Setting aside communications, constituent services, CIP and other divisions that are or were in the Mayor’s budget, if you consider just the Mayor’s Support Services operation, we have seen a reduction from $910,559 in 2008-2009 to $521,050 in the present FY; a $389,509 reduction. In the Mayor’s Recommended budget for FY 12-13, we have budgeted $462,351 (an additional 13% reduction over the FY 11-12 adopted budget); taken together, that alone would represent a $448,208 reduction since FY 2008-2009. Even if you control for regular payroll, you see a $100,000 reduction from 2008-2009 to 2011-2012. Moreover, assuming the recommended FY 12-13 Mayor’s office budget is approved by Council, an additional $45,000 reduction will be realized.
It’s also important to note that in 2010-2011, 20 positions were budgeted for the Mayor’s office, while only 10 were budgeted in FY 11-12 and the most recent recommended budget shows no deviation whatsoever and the expectation moving forward is that we will remain at 10. In addition to this, the salary has been reduced in the FY 12-13 recommended budget for the Director of Constituent Services position. At this time both constituent service liaisons direct report to the Chief of Staff (and thus the Mayor) and it has proven to be a very effective arrangement that has directly engaged the Mayor in solving constituent concerns and problems.
While the number may not be exactly “$1 million”, the fact remains, the Mayor has made significant moves to reduce the budget of the Mayor’s office, through cuts and/or consolidations or transfers of certain operations to departments better equipped to oversee their operations. The logic or rationale behind why these positions were originally included the Mayor’s office is something we cannot speak to, but we can most definitely say that recent decisions by Mayor Segarra have reduced the “silo mentality” and promoted greater accountability and efficiency in the management and oversight of these operations.
If you have any additional questions or concerns, don’t hesitate to let me know.