West Haven Mayor Issues Spending, Hiring Freeze on First Day in Office

During the campaign season, West Haven’s new mayor Nancy Rossi ran on getting the city’s finances in order.

On her first day in office at city hall on Monday, she wasted no time issuing a memo on a hiring, spending and overtime freeze that is effective immediately.

"She seemed to have really good fiscal responsible ideas," Susan Gustafson, who supported Rossi in the three-way race for Mayor of West Haven, said. "Let’s face it we all overspend, we all have credit card debt, so should she handle it like I do at home, probably not. I think she could probably do better because she is a CPA and she does have a better handle of finances."

The day after swearing in as the city’s first female mayor, Rossi notified commissioners, department heads and supervisors about the cost-saving measures.

"It’s very important that West Haven learns to do business differently and we can’t continue to spend money that we don’t have," Rossi told NBC Connecticut.

The hiring freeze does not apply to essential positions such as police, firefighters and plow drivers, Rossi said. As for spending, her memo said all expenditures greater than $500 must be approved by the mayor’s office until further notice.

"It was in her campaign that she was going to do something like that," Gustafson said. "I’m not really all that surprised."

Rossi said she also wants there to be no overtime for city employees unless approved by the department head or mayor’s office.

"We’re going to have a checks-and-balances," she said. "We’re going do our best to keep down the overtime hours."

Beyond the freeze, Rossi said she plans to go through each item of the city’s budget.

"Restructuring possible departments to have cost savings," Rossi explained. "But not to harm the services to the City of West Haven."

The mayor’s memo asks the West Haven Board of Education to curb spending and overtime. The superintendent did not return NBC Connecticut’s call asking for comment.

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