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Connecticut News

New Haven Mayor: Nearly $2 Million Budget Surplus Not Enough For Pandemic Crisis

New Haven Mayor Justin Elicker
Ebong Udoma
/
WSHU Public Radio
New Haven Mayor Justin Elicker

The city of New Haven announced it has a budget surplus of $1.9 million dollars, but the mayor worries that’s not enough to get through tougher times ahead.

The municipality laid off about 100 workers earlier this year to help balance its budget and weather the economic challenges of quarantine.

New Haven Mayor Justin Elicker said he is preparing for the worst.

“We’re concerned about this spiraling and people losing their homes and that becoming a much more difficult situation, where the impact on our city’s budget and the overall community of New Haven can be significant. So we’re expecting that we’re going to have to incur a lot more costs to help support people that are really struggling economically," Elicker said.

Elicker said he is aware of concerns about recent layoffs of custodial workers serving New Haven Public Schools. He says the city budget surplus would not go towards them, but in the city's rainy day fund, because the school board is in charge of its own employee budget.

The union representing school custodians in New Haven said workers face layoffs despite the city surplus.

Alberto Bernardez, the district leader for union local 32BJ SEIU, said more than 160 members have been laid off for the first 10 weeks of school.

“It’s a problem, to tell you the truth, that the city is not taking care of the people who have done so much,” Bernardez said.

He said his colleagues worked to clean and prepare schools for socially distanced classrooms. Then, the New Haven School Board decided to hold online-only classes at least throughout the start of the semester.

Elicker said his office is not responsible for negotiating with school contractors, but he set up a meeting with the appropriate parties Thursday.