Ward Eight Alderman and State Rep. Tommy Katsiantonis was the subject of several search warrants yesterday. The New Hampshire Attorney General, along with several federal agencies and officers of the Manchester Police Department raided Katsiantonis’ South End home and two of his restaurants, Tommy K’s on Brown Ave. and Grand Slam Pizza on Mammoth Road. Law enforcement officials also searched Zoey’s Pizza on Candia Road in conjunction with Katsiantonis’ properties.
Throughout the day, Girard at Large received several reports from members of our Large and Loyal Listening Audience, as well as several inquiries. Frankly, it was tough to track down and confirm.
Assistant Attorney General Jane Young told us in an interview that the A G’s Office started an investigation into possible financial crimes committed by Katsiantonis several months ago. As a result of their investigation, they invited several undisclosed federal agencies to participate. Young would not confirm information we received about officials from the I R S, F B I, Dept. of Justice and U S Attorney’s Office being involved. She would only say that several federal agencies have been involved at their invitation. She also said that the Manchester Police Department had assisted the investigation.
No arrests were made nor were any charges brought against Katsiantonis. Young said the investigation had simply reached a stage where probable cause existed to obtain and execute the search warrants acted on. She said she expects the investigation to continue for several more months, declining to establish any sort of deadline by which the matter would be cleared up and said it was too early to say what, if any, charges would be brought against Katsiantonis or anyone else.
Approximately two dozen state, federal and local law enforcement officials, including all nine of the A G Office’s investigators, were present at the simultaneously executed search warrant sites, which were searched from about ten yesterday morning to four in the afternoon.
News from our own backyard continues after this.
At six o’clock tonight, Manchester Mayor Ted Gatsas will unveil his proposed budget at a special meeting of the Board of Mayor and Aldermen in the Aldermanic Chambers at City Hall. Under the city’s charter, Gatsas has until March thirty first to present a spending plan that conforms to the city’s cap on tax revenue. However, because escalating labor costs and diminishing revenues have caused a significant shortfall between what the city can raise under the cap and what it will cost to maintain the status quo, Gatsas has said he is bringing the budget forward six weeks early to provide the aldermen and school board with as much time as possible to work on the numbers.
Meanwhile, last night, School Superintendent Dr. Bolgen Vargas outlined his much anticipated budget proposal. Among fears of widespread layoffs, Vargas said the worst case scenario for the district at this time would be the elimination of thirty four teaching positions, including eighteen that would involve layoffs, plus four other positions in the district, for a total of thirty eight full time equivalent positions. The estimated reduction in salary and benefits is two million dollars, which is just about the cost of the pay raises included in the final year of the teachers union contract. Vargas said another nine positions would be eliminated via attrition to reflect the district’s declining enrollment.
In citing data showing an eighteen percent decline in district enrollment since Fiscal 0 7, Vargas pointed to a more than six fold increase in the numbers of students being home schooled or attending charter schools over the same period of time. The twelve hundred sixty five kids educated in those alternative settings represent forty percent of the district’s enrollment decline. Vargas said the district needed to stem the tide of enrollment decline.
Despite the near tripling of the number of students attending charter schools since Fiscal fourteen, Vargas proposed increasing the amount of time students attending charter and other schools whose children are entitled, by law, like parochial school students, to bus transportation from forty five minutes to an hour. He said the move would save forty eight thousand dollars.
To begin the process of what he called “right-sizing the district,” Vargas proposed selling the district’s office condo on McGregor Street and moving its headquarters to West High School. He said the move would save the district two hundred thousand dollars in the coming fiscal year. He also proposed conducting a full facilities study that would provide a ten year enrollment forecast, demographic trends, compute current operating capacity, illustrate future space needs and analyze facility and program needs. The board voted to put the proposal out to bid last night.
Total school spending presented last night was nearly one hundred ninety two million dollars.
That’s news from our own backyard! Girard at Large hour ___ is next!
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