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West Haven budget turnaround

WEST HAVEN --For the first time since at least 2005, the City of West Haven is reporting a budget surplus. But, it's the turn around in Nancy Rossi's first 15 month's as the city's Mayor that's capturing the most attention.

When Rossi became West Haven's first female mayor, in December 2017, the city's financial situation was dire.

"When I first got in, if you projected out a realistic deficit, it would’ve been well over $11 million, if not more," said Rossi.

But, in an independent audit, just released, for fiscal year 2018, the city now shows a general fund surplus of over $3.1 million. And, after liabilities, a positive fund balance of nearly $2.2 million.

"That just means we’ve kind of turned the corner," said Rossi. "We are not out of the woods yet. We have a lot more work to do."

So how they do it? She implemented freezes in both hiring and overtime, not including police and fire, on her first day in office.

"We’ve cut the overtime, on the city side, 61% from the same time the year before," said Rossi.

This resulted in the savings of over $200,000, she said.

"I eliminated several positions from Corporation Counsel's office. I put some people down to part-time in the new budget.," she said, noting that saved on benefits costs.

Despite the city's good financial news, the Planning and Zoning Commissioner says it’s his opinion they shouldn’t be holding the popular annual fireworks display this year. But, the Rossi says the fireworks will not fizzle.

"The fireworks bring over 100,000 people to our shore and a lot of them spend money here and hopefully they’ll come back," she said.

Between police and the department of public works coverage of the event last year the overtime cost was just under $50,000.

"What we’re gonna do differently this year is we’re going to try to engage food trucks because I understand that’s what others towns and cities do," she said.

She says food truck revenues, coupled with corporate sponsors, an event advertising book and parking fees will help cover the OT costs.

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