Author Archives: Michael Tetreau

Making Fairfield & Fairfield County an Investment Priority for the State

Friday, July 13, 2018

Here are some interesting statistics and rankings….

For 2016, Fairfield residents paid over $210 million to the State of Connecticut in State income tax revenue.

The Town of Fairfield ranks 3rd in the State in income tax revenue contributed to the State. 

Greenwich and Stamford are the only municipalities that contribute more.

Fairfield comes in just ahead of Westport.

The Fairfield County 5 (Greenwich, Stamford, Norwalk, Westport and Fairfield) contribute 22% of the total income tax revenue to the State.

Fairfield County overall contributes 42% of the total income tax revenue to the State.

These are just some of the reasons why our Town and our County should be an investment priority for the State.

Thanks for reading,
Mike

First Selectman’s Perspective on Fairfield

February 20, 2018

As we look toward the some of the challenges we face in the upcoming years, it is important that we have a vision for our town that embodies the essence of what makes Fairfield so unique and special. While I recognize there are many different perspectives, here is how I see our Town:

We are a family friendly and neighborhood oriented community that values our top quality school system and our fine libraries. We value living in a safe and secure community.

We work diligently on providing opportunities for our seniors to be able to afford stay in town and to have plenty of activities and services to make them want to stay here.

We have a vibrant local economy. We are a destination for culture, the arts, dining, entertainment and shopping for the region.

We are a leader in sustainability – especially in the use of green and renewable energy options. We do our best to be responsible and protect the environment.

We work daily to strengthen our financial foundation and make responsible decisions about our future. We are committed to planning for and meeting our long-term obligations.

We value our historic character and the important roles our citizens have played in shaping our community. We strive to keep our heritage alive for future generations.

We value and respect our open spaces, parks, beaches and recreational opportunities our town provides.

We want Fairfield to be a good value for all who live here today and tomorrow.

Thank you,

Mike

Fairfield is growing!

February 12, 2018

One of our goals is to keep Fairfield growing in value. The best indicator of our success is that people are still choosing to move to Fairfield. While Connecticut may be losing population, Fairfield is still growing.

Here are the facts…

Year                Population

2000                57,340

2010                59,404
2011                59,078
2012                59,562
2013                60,126
2014                60,678
2015                61,016
2016                61,114

Thank you, Mike.

Source: U.S. Census

Property Owners May Prepay Taxes Due January and April 2018

The Town has received many inquiries from residents regarding the prepayment of taxes.   I would like to clarify a few things to help residents prepare and plan accordingly.

According to State Statute, the Town only has the authority to accept prepayment, by December 31st, of tax payments due January 1, 2018 and April 1, 2018.  State Statute does not allow you to prepay taxes due July 1, 2018 or later, this December.

Those wishing to prepay their January and April taxes can do so:

  1. In Person – At the Tax Collector’s Office by 4:30 pm, Friday, December 29th (hours are M-F 8:30-4:30)
  2. By Mail – Must be postmarked by Sunday, December 31st
  3. Online – Must be submitted by midnight, Sunday, December 31st (convenience fee applies)

You can go to www.fairfieldct.org/taxpayment to view your tax bill and/or pay your taxes online.

Please note that this is not tax advice and the Town takes no responsibility regarding the IRS treatment of these payments.  The Town strongly recommends that you consult with your personal tax advisor before making a decision to prepay.

For more detailed information please read the press release from our Tax Collector.

New State Budget Updates

Here is an update on the status of the State Budget and its impact on Fairfield. We will be finding out more in the days, weeks and months ahead, but here is what we know today.

1. There is a Renters Rebate program for elderly and disabled persons.  This was funded, but not authorized to be spent in the recent State budget. The Senate has met and voted to authorize the funds to be spent, but towns are now required to pay for half the cost.  In Fairfield’s case, we budgeted $100,000 in revenue reimbursements from the State for this program. We now have to find $50,000 in adjustments to pay for half this program. This amounts to an unfunded mandate.

2. There is an Elderly and Disabled Homeowners Tax Credit program.  This program was NOT funded in the State budget. These tax credits have already been applied to our qualified residents’ 2017-2018 property tax bills. There doesn’t appear to be a solution coming from the State. We budgeted $414,000 in revenue reimbursements from the State for this program.  This creates another hole in our budget and is another unfunded mandate.

3. It was announced in the news media that the State is falling short on its revenue projections.  Last December when this happened, Fairfield was cut over $500,000 in municipal aid.  We are waiting for the details of the impact of this shortfall on Fairfield.

4. Lastly, the Governor is letting the media know how difficult it will be to find the budgeted savings that are included in the recently passed budget.  This could signal even more cuts to our town funding come springtime.

For all these reasons, I am taking a cautious approach. My administration continues to tightly manage costs and we are still keeping numerous capital projects on hold.

I will keep you updated as we learn more about the impact of the State’s budget and operations on our town.

Thanks for reading.

Mike

Town Budget Update

With the signing of the State Budget by the Governor, here is an update on Fairfield.

Our Town is approximately back to where we were on July 1, 2017.  We are still suffering from over $800,000 in cuts that the RTM made in the budget to funds that would have been used for infrastructure, paving and the Library.  In addition, we are still recovering from the $4 million the State cut in Fairfield Municipal Aid in the FY 2017 budget, including over $2.5 million in Education Cost Sharing (ECS) funding.

The Library is beginning to hire the replacement staff needed to restore hours which should occur in early January.

The Town will be continuing the strategic hiring freeze and will cautiously be releasing some capital projects.  We are still concerned about Municipal Aid cuts in December when the State gets updated revenue numbers for the current year.

Last December, Fairfield was cut by over $500,000.  There may be further State cuts later this fiscal year, too.  We are going to continue to tightly manage our expenses and capital projects.  We have learned that any revenue from the State is not guaranteed until we have the check in hand.

Thanks for taking time to read this important update.

Mike

Town and State Budget Update

There have been some very big steps recently in getting us to a State Budget.  The six key leaders from both parties, minus the Governor, have agreed on a budget. However, there is little documentation on what is included and, more importantly, what is not included in this budget proposal.

It will take another week for this budget to be reviewed by the rest of the members of the General Assembly. Once the vote takes place, the next step is to send it to the Governor.

It took two weeks to prepare documentation needed to present the first proposed budget which the Governor vetoed.  He has not been very open or clear on what his thoughts are or whether he will sign or veto this latest budget. The Governor was not included in recent negotiations between the leaders of both parties.

If the Governor vetoes the budget, it would go back to the Assembly where legislators may seek the required two-thirds majority to override the Governor’s veto.

We might not have a budget until after Thanksgiving and, in that case, it could then take three to four more weeks for checks to start flowing to the towns, cities and organizations that desperately need funding. This funding may not even be received by towns, cities and critical programs until after January 1, 2018.

As I explained in my last blog, my administration has taken the necessary steps to ensure the Town will continue operations despite not receiving any State funding this year. We have put a hold on capital projects and continue to have a strategic hiring freeze in place. Once Fairfield’s Mill Rate was set last Spring, we had very few options other than to cut expenses. We have done our best to minimize the impact on our residents. It is good that we started cutting costs last year so we had some additional savings or surplus to help out this year.

Thanks for taking time to read this important update.

Mike.

Impact of No State Budget on Fairfield

I expect we will see an increasing number of stories on the devastating impact of no State budget on towns and cities around Connecticut.  I just want to remind residents that my administration has been taking steps to protect Fairfield. We have had a strategic hiring freeze in place since early last spring.  We managed our expenses to generate a surplus last fiscal year.  We also have a hold on capital projects and have made adjustments to the current fiscal year budget.

All of these proactive measures have put Fairfield in a position to survive the year with no state budget if required.  These moves also provide a certain amount of financial flexibility to handle some of the new State budget proposals being discussed.

You will continue to hear about the trauma many towns are going through. We have planned ahead, anticipating the difficulties at the State level.  We started earlier than most towns. We are better prepared than most towns to navigate the challenges of the year ahead.

As always, thanks for your support.

Mike

A Budget Compromise or an Abdication of Responsibility?

The following entry was written in collaboration with Selectman Kevin Kiley.

The latest State budget proposal is being touted as a compromise. The compromise is to transfer less of the State Pension costs to the Towns than originally proposed last spring. This is not a compromise. This is an attempt to pass the cost of the State’s mismanagement of the Pension program on to the Towns.

Let’s review what has transpired:

  1. The State promised all Connecticut teachers a pension.
  2. The State promised the Towns that the State would fund the Pension program.
  3. The State did not fund the Pension program as promised.
  4. The State took money from the Towns’ residents. In Fairfield’s case, taxpayers pay $200 million a year in state income tax. This money was supposed to go to fund State expenses including the Pension program.
  5. The State now does not want to manage their expenses better.
  6. The State is now asking the Towns to pay even more to cover the State’s mismanagement.
  7. Because of the State’s mismanagement, the annual cost of the Pension program is projected to increase 500% over the next 12 years.
  8. The State is refusing to make any changes to the Pension program that it cannot afford.

Our town has managed our Pension costs well. We have lowered our long-term liabilities and have a 90% funded pension.  The State did not do the same.

Fairfield taxpayers already pay the State $200 million per year in income tax. $200 million a year adds up to $1 billion over the last five years. Now the State wants the Towns to pay for its mismanagement. The annual cost for this Pension will grow 500% in the next 12 years. This will be the fastest growing line item in every Town budget. It will force towns and cities to increase property taxes every year going forward. Raising property taxes at the local level unfairly punishes low income property owners and seniors. It raises the cost of home ownership and may force people out of their homes. It raises taxes on people regardless of their ability to pay.

This proposed transfer of costs allows the State to avoid finding real solutions to its fiscal crisis.  It allows the State to avoid facing the difficulties of reining in expenses.  This is not a solution.  This is not a compromise.  This is an abdication of responsibility.

Here is a link to an article providing some more background:

https://ctmirror.org/2017/09/07/malloy-eases-cost-shift-onto-cities-and-towns-by-nearly-775m/

We will continue to fight for Fairfield and keep our community informed on this matter which is so crucial to the future of Fairfield and our State.

Thank you.

Governor Announces Municipal Aid Update

Today, the Governor gave his update on the Municipal Aid levels for each town. This is the State operating plan until a State Budget is passed. Here is a sampling for selected Towns:

Fairfield is reduced by $4 Million

Milford is reduced by $14 Million

Newtown is reduced by $7 Million

Stratford is reduced by $23 Million

West Hartford is reduced by $24 Million

Westport is reduced by $1 Million

Hartford is reduced by $55 Million

Greenwich is reduced by $500,000

Darien is reduced by $600,000

New Canaan is reduced by $500,000

Bridgeport is reduced by $31 Million

With the exception of Hartford and Bridgeport, the towns listed have been reduced to virtually zero in Municipal Aid.

In Fairfield’s case, we have been planning for a significant reduction in Aid if no State Budget was passed. We have taken actions since the start of the fiscal year on July 1st including a strategic hiring freeze and a hold on capital purchases.  I have also asked for a survey by our Department Managers of other towns’ procedures to share best practices and learn what we can do better.

The Governor’s update is disappointing, but not a surprise. We have taken the steps needed to minimize the impact on our residents and town services. I want to compliment our Department Managers for their help and creative approaches in handling the hiring freeze in each of their departments. This is not an easy adjustment to lose $4 million in revenue this far into the fiscal year.  By planning early and being proactive, we have worked together to minimize the impact on our residents.

When you look at the size of these reductions to towns across the State, you realize how important getting a State Budget passed is to everyone. Let’s work together to call on our State Assembly to pass a well-balanced state budget as soon as possible.

Thank you, Mike Tetreau