Hamden's Pension Crisis -- Who's To Blame?

Voters elect the same people election after election. How could they expect a different result?


To the Editor:

This from the New Haven Register: “Hamden has roughly $56 million in its pension fund. If it were fully funded, it would have more than $400 million invested for pensioners and current town employees.”

My question is: Does anyone care? Sure, the pensioners have a major concern and they should, but what about the taxpayers?

Year after year after year, the same people get re-elected who not only have not been able to solve the problem, but worked hard at making it worse.

This problem will ultimately deal all residents of Hamden a cruel blow - from renters to homeowners to business conducting their trade in Hamden.
Should the council decide to bond the pension, the interest payments alone would eat up a big chunk of the budget.

Remember, we will be borrowing money for the expressed purposes of insuring those folks, who worked for promises made by this and past administrations, are paid in full, some of whom are enjoying pensions is excess of $50,000 per year with the highest being paid over $100,000 per year.

Many members of the current administration helped craft the current calamity. They, along with long time members of the council who endorsed this nonsense, are to blame – members like Al Gorman, Jack Kennelly, Carol Nobel, Kathleen Schomaker, John DeRosa and Michael Calaiacovo -- have become permanent fixtures thanks to voters who haven’t been paying attention.

So what does this mean? The answer is obvious, higher and higher taxes. It would not surprise me to see taxes double within 10 years. The only other solution is to file bankruptcy.

Ultimately the voters will have to decide this November to continue on the path of financial ruin or maybe, just maybe, the outcome of the election will be different than what history has shown.

Ron Gambardella
Chairman of the Hamden Republican Party

Bob Maturo February 12, 2013 at 07:05 PM
Ron, Your editorial only points fingers at who is to blame for the pension crisis in Hamden. You are the Chairman of the Republican party. What is your stance on fixing the pension issue?
George Levinson February 12, 2013 at 07:06 PM
The issue isn't how we got here. The issue is how do we resolve it. Inevitably there will be some higher taxes down the road. Those will only be tolerable if the recipients make large concessions to lessen the burden on the taxpayers. For now the answer is to demand zero budget and tax increases every year until the unions capitulate to concessions which will cut the taxpayer burden in half.
Thomas Alegi February 12, 2013 at 09:01 PM
When building collapses do to snow load, engineers look to see how the building was constructed so they do not make the same mistake twice. If engineers said, “The issue isn't how we got here.” Would anyone feel safe in a building build by these non-issue engineers..
Reyn Richard February 12, 2013 at 10:17 PM
Tom is right. What is relevant about who is to blame is are they still making these important decisions. The longer one has been a sitting member of the council the more culpable they are for the situation we are in. Both D's and R's here, specifically I'm refering to Noble, Gorman, Whetmore, and Kennelly Kozak etc. Harris bares no responsibility as he is new blood, the others are partially culpable. How can you trust these people to make the right decisions when they've been so wrong for sooooooo long....either they didn't understand their actions or were seeking political cover by keeping taxes down for a short term benefit. IMHO they really have to go before we come to terms with the issue. Do you think any would do the honorable thing and resign?
Matt Corcoran February 13, 2013 at 02:04 AM
The report of the Segal Company, which prepared an analysis of the pension fund, can be found on the Town's website. It is frightening to say the least. The "suggestion" of the report is for the Town Council to borrow $115 million to put into the pension fund locking the Town into a mandatory payment schedule. For the first six years, there is a gradual increase of the Town's pension contribution till it reaches $25 million dollars each and every year devoted to the pension through the year 2041. There are also rosy assumptions on the fund's return and cuts in pension benefits. I have concerns with why we would borrow money to underfund the pension for another six years other than to lessen the political consequences for those already in office. A vote by this council would result in gradual tax increases over the next six years and would bind future office holders who could claim no responsibility for the budget increase. I don't like borrowing money to trade on the margin. The contributions have to be made- immediately - but should come from the budget and, unfortunately, tax increases out over the horizon without taking political considerations into account. There is simply no solution which will not pummel the Hamden taxpayer. On the bright side, we can look forward to a huge tax cut in 2042.
Barbara February 23, 2013 at 03:25 PM
I'm a Democrat but Ron Gambardella's analysis of Hamden's fiscal situation is compelling. For far too long this Democratic town has rubber stamped Democratic candidates. The end result is a Town whose excessively high tax rates largely fund lavish retirement benefits for town workers. We have a Town government run for the benefit of Town workers and not the tax payer. If the local Republican Party can come up with serious candidates that divorce themselves from the crazy elements of the national Republican Party you could well earn my vote. Personally, I'd strongly endorse the notion that Hamden seriously consider declaring bankruptcy.
JM February 27, 2013 at 03:38 PM
how much money did the town put in the pension fund when you were on the council ron?
J D C February 27, 2013 at 04:12 PM
What NEEDS to happen is all the culprits need to be locked in a room and a game plan needs to be created, one town employee at a time if need be. The time has come for the gravy train to not only slow down, it needs to come to a screeching halt. Voters, a.k.a. taxpayers, need to monitor what gets done or doesn't get done and then HIRE someone new or re hire the same people if deserved. Hamden has so much land that is completely unused, for one example. Time to start thinking outside the box Hamden, this is not your fathers Hamden anymore. It isnt the self sustaining little suburb anymore with Leeder Hill business and Sherman Ave commercial property being enough. Why did Hamden stop growing? The only thing growing is Quinnipiac and more entitlement ees. There are too many questions that are going unanswered. This borrow and spend, borrow and spend strategy is just inane and has to stop. Its worked so well for America lately huh?
Mike Devine March 29, 2013 at 12:04 AM
Keep the promise. A woman, a man entering the public service has a career path, pay and benefits. At the point of retirement is not the time for a bunch of disgruntled towny hacks to backstab police and fire, teachers and demand back their benefits. Man up to a situation you may not like and correct it, but stand by the people that have stood by you. Wear a holstered gun, run into a burning home, teach kids year after year, you'll see. Keep the promise.
J D C March 29, 2013 at 12:23 AM
When the only ones left are the sec 8s and seniors on fixed incomes because the mill rate is SEVENTY FIVE, it will be belly up bankrupt Hamden, and oops there goes another retirees cake.....................and a promise.
Mike Devine March 29, 2013 at 03:15 PM
I notice the title of the post "Who's to Blame". Please give me a break. Who's to Blame is just some hack looking in the rearview mirror trying to place blame, finger someone, it doesn't get much done. The money has been spent. If mistakes have been made correct them go forward more intelligent, less talk more corrective action, apply the lessons learned. I had a lessons learned binder once, we read it on the midwatch every night on the good Submarine Alabama, we learned from it. Learn from yours and stand by the promises made to your employees, do the right thing, be honorable. It's not meant to be easy. Pay the pensions as promised, Buona Pasqua and a Ziseen Pseach.


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