I wanted to let everyone know the actions I have taken since the Governor announced his proposal to cut $4.6 Million in State Aid to Fairfield. This cut includes the reduction in Education Cost Sharing (ECS) funding and the reduction in Revenue Sharing from the State Sales Tax.
I have taken a very proactive approach. I have been working with Connecticut Conference of Municipalities (CCM) – the lobbying group for towns and cities. I have been on television as a panelist on News 12′s Focus on Connecticut. CCM asked that I represent the towns throughout Fairfield County. I have been interviewed by numerous news media. I have reached out to our State Delegation. I have spoken to numerous other State Representatives and State Senators. I have reached out to other First Selectmen and Mayors. I have met with the Speaker of the House, Brendan Sharkey. I have also requested a meeting with our State Minority Leaders to present our case and hear their perspective. I have spoken before the Sherman School PTA and have been asked to present to others.
The budget proposals are currently in the hands of the General Assembly for their response and proposals. Everyone I have contacted has made it clear that there is no support for the Governor’s proposal. It will not go any further. Once the Assembly has made their recommendation and position clear, I will be reaching out to the Governor to garner his support for Fairfield and similar towns.
I have been in continuous conversations with our town elected officials who serve on the Board of Education, the Board of Finance and the Representative Town Meeting (RTM). I have had conversations with my colleagues on the Board of Selectmen.
I have continuously pointed out the poor process and the poor planning that led us to this situation. I have made clear the negative impact on our town by these proposals and these last minute devastating cuts. I have also spoken out about the lack of fairness in the cuts and approach to our town.
I have recommended to the RTM that we delay our town vote on the budget until we have answers from the State on exactly what cuts are coming. Everything from the State until now has been in the form of proposals but nothing is final. I have been following up with our Town Attorney to determine our options for delaying our vote and with our CFO to confirm our options and flexibility on getting out tax bills.
As a Town, our expenses are set. The appropriation or spending has been approved by the Board of Selectmen and the Board of Finance. Our budget recommendations are now before the Fairfield RTM. The RTM can lower or cut these appropriations but cannot raise or increase them.
The budget I proposed at the beginning of March included a decrease from last year on the Townside and once combined with the BOE came in at just a 1% increase. One of the lowest in the last twenty years. The town tax increases over the last five years have been the lowest total increase as far back as I can find. Our tax and expense per capita are one of the lowest in Fairfield County.
I hope this helps you have a better understanding of all that has been going on.