NORWALK, Conn. – Mayor Richard Moccia addressed the Norwalk Board of Education on Tuesday night, regarding the need to make $10 million in cuts from the 2012-13 school budget. Here is what he said:
"I've seen some articles in the paper trying to compare what happened here to NEON. I mean, it's not just apples and oranges. First of all this was four finance directors over a period in time and a lot of transition, interim superintendents. Not excusing it, but it did happen. NEON's a little different, misappropriation of money, other things that have gone on there and I've seen, you know, that the superintendent should be removed and the chairman should resign, completely different. That is nonsensical. Everybody on this board is a volunteer. A mistake was made ... we're trying to correct this.
"I will say this tonight – because, you know, with the council meetings, my schedule sometimes, I can't make all of your meetings – that eventually you're going to have the public hearing where the cuts happen. They're going to come forth. This is unlike any other year. People are going to come forward and say, "You can't cut, you gotta cut somewhere else." Well, the city budget's been set. The mill rate's been set. In all deference to the people who argue for that, there is no place to cut in the city's side. There's no more.
I will tell you quite honestly I've read in the past publications from people that the taxpayers in this city are cheap because they won't support education, etc. Well, they have supported it quite well. It took me a little while to dig out the numbers, but I'm going to put out one of them tonight. I only have from 9/10 because the state hasn't completed all of the, for 11/12 yet or the 10/11. But in 9/10 the city of Norwalk spent $15,503 per student. If you want to add land, buildings and debt service in, it was another $1,621. Our total is $17,420.
"What I have heard in other meetings, when I hear that people don't want to come to Norwalk because we don't spend money on our kids, they're moving to suburban towns. The city of Wilton spent $15,918 and $1,215 for debt service and land. Their total cost per student was $17,133. We spent a whole $9 less per student in Norwalk.
"So we have supported education. Those are the numbers that are there.
"I will give you one other number to contemplate on as you move forward. According to the state, in 9/10, there were 1,615 employees in the Norwalk school system. This is information given from Norwalk to the state of Connecticut and published on the website. In 06-07, four years before, three or four years before, according to the same state, 1,215 employees. For the period between '06 and '10, '07 and '10, roughly 400 employees added. The number of students? About the same, roughly 11,000.
"So, we have added personnel. We have spent money in this city. But I am telling you as mayor of this city, that has to represent everybody, there is no alternative. But some sacrifices are going to have to be made by everybody in this room. And I mean everybody. It can't go on. We have 10,000 senior citizens in this city, and I was quoted on this before and I was pooh-poohed: 1,400 of them are on senior tax relief, making between $25,000 to $45,000 a year. You tell them they can afford another couple hundred dollars in taxes because somebody doesn't want to make sacrifices, sitting in this room. We've reached the termination point.
"I will not allow this city to be called, and this administration, and the people who work hard, to be called anti-education because they can't fund every dollar someone has decided they need. I supported the $4 million to go. I support all of you because I don't think you've done anything wrong. But on the same token I don't think the city or the taxpayers have done anything wrong over the last five years."