Southington is standing tough on debt and is being frugal and cautious on how it spends money from the “rainy day” account.
During a Town Council meeting Monday night, council Chairman Chris Palmieri said he opposed dipping into the account to off-set the reduction in municipal aid to the town from the state, reporter Brian Johnson noted in a Herald story.
Although some town officials and residents may believe Palmieri has too tight a grip on the municipal purse strings, we agree with his stance on this issue.
Too many times, cities and towns have depleted rainy day accounts to placate residents and officials who believe it is better to spend now then to save for later.
As most individuals and officials know, when it comes to sticking to a budget plan the hardest word to say is “no.”
But, the long-term consequences of straying away from austerity can be worse then making smaller financial sacrifices.
“Bond agencies are also watching how we respond to these cuts,” Palmieri said. “If we draw from our rainy day fund it may result in a reduction to our AA+ bond rating, which could cost us even more money.”
Thanks to some prudent planning the town was able to set aside $3 million in a separate contingency fund.
But the town is still short $2.1 million because of state aid cuts. And while the council is trying to find a way to deal with the shortfall it is still unclear how officials will deal with the problem.
Unfortunately, there are few options available to the town to deal with a deficit. Town employee and teacher layoffs, a hike in property taxes and a reduction in municipal services could all be on the table at some point.
But the larger issue is the one communities across Connecticut may soon have to address - dependency on state aid.