Nat Kerman, Contributing Photographer

New Haven Mayor Justin Elicker submitted his proposed budget Last Friday, kicking off the three-month-long budget adoption process. Reacting to the budget, three city leaders said they approved of the budget, while top alders vowed to be careful with accepting full-time positions the Mayor proposed.

The budget proposal includes increased funding for education and housing and adds 31 new full-time positions to the city staff, including five housing inspectors. If approved, the budget will also reorganize New Haven housing programs and create a separate Parks Department.  

“He got it right this time … I like it,” Tom Goldenberg, a former mayoral challenger who had previously criticized Elicker’s fiscal year 2023-24  budget proposal, told the News. 

Goldenberg said that he supported the creation of a separate parks department, new housing inspection positions at the Livable City Initiative and a tax increase that is lower than last year’s, which is “encouraging.”

“We are pleased to see the increased investment in housing quality by adding needed positions at LCI,” Karen DuBois-Walton ’89, executive director of the New Haven Housing Authority, who challenged Elicker in the 2021 Democratic mayoral primary, wrote to the News. “Everyday we see the challenges families face seeking quality housing in the private market.” 

DuBois-Walton wrote that the decision to shift LCI’s focus away from housing development and toward inspections is a smart one. She also applauded the additional $300,000 allocated for the services for the unhoused.  

Leslie Blatteau, president of the New Haven Federation of Teachers, said that increased salaries, which account for a large part of the increased educational budget, allowed many teachers to stay teaching in New Haven Public Schools. She said that this has made them feel that they are “being compensated fairly.” 

Per the teachers union contract negotiated last year, the salaries of public school teachers are rising gradually over the three years following the contract. Blatteau said that the increases are especially significant for mid-career educators.

“We have to continue to make sure that as many dollars as possible are making it directly to the classroom,” Blatteau said. “That means making sure that we’re paying for highly qualified professionals to support our students and making sure that the resources are in place so that we can do our jobs.”

In Elicker’s budget proposal, an additional $5 million is allocated for the Board of Education. According to Elicker, the city is also hoping to get almost $4 million more from the state for schools. This funding goes to the city’s Board of Education, which then decides how to use it, Elicker said. 

Chris Schweitzer, the head of the New Haven Climate Movement, wrote to the News that he would love to hear more from the city about its environmental investments to reach the Climate Emergency Resolution goals.

“Later is too late for climate change action,” Schweitzer wrote. 

The Mayor’s budget proposal has to be approved by the Board of Alders, who will likely amend the proposal. 

Upon seeing the creation of over 30 new city employment positions allocated across various departments, Ward 25 Alder Adam Marchand told the News he will pay attention to the costs that are going to be used for the new workers’ salaries. 

“At this point, I don’t have a strong feeling one way or the other,” Marchand said. “I’ve done this long enough that I take my time with it. I generally form my opinions slowly over the course of the workshops when I get a better understanding from the department heads about what it is they’re proposing and why they want to do it.”

The Board of Alders will be holding three hearings and six workshops on the budget over the next six weeks to solicit community input.

Marchand commended the Mayor for allocating more funds to the Parks Department and for giving a lot of thought to the housing scarcity around New Haven. 

Ward 27 Alder and majority leader Richard Furlow echoed Marchand’s statement, saying that though he’s only looked at the highlights of the budget proposal so far, he will pay close attention to the new positions created.

“Thirty-one new positions, that’s a lot,” Furlow said. “But the budget process will be for each department to explain why they’re needed, and then we’ll decide what do we believe in.”

Last year, the Board rejected 25 out of the 34 positions Elicker created. 

Fiscal year 2024-25 will start on July 1.

Ariela Lopez contributed reporting.

Mia Cortés Castro covers City Hall and State Politics, and previously covered Cops and Courts. Originally from Dorado, Puerto Rico, she is a sophomore in Branford College studying English.
Yurii Stasiuk is a Managing Editor of the Yale Daily News. He previously covered City Hall as a beat reporter. Originally from Kalush, Ukraine, he is a sophomore in Jonathan Edwards College majoring in History and Political Science.