The wild spending of the BET needs to be curtailed

FI-Letter-to-the-EditorTo the Editor

Some in Greenwich argue that we should borrow now when rates are low and lengthen our debt profile to reduce our annual debt payments, but these people don’t urge their children to borrow on their credit cards when rates are low.

The BET spends every penny raised by the tax rate and almost every year raises the tax rate (“only 2.5%”) to get more money of which it spends every penny. We already have an unfunded liability to municipal employees of approximately $200 million. The new jobs BET would create with the savings from lower debt payments would come with new retiree pension and health obligations and add to that.

It does not make sense to give the loose budgeteers more looseness by lengthening the debt profile.

In Greenwich, tax increases routinely exceed the rate of inflation. The BET praises itself for not raising the tax rate even more, but this is like the alcoholic praising himself for drinking three bottles of whiskey a day rather than six. With a flat grand list tax base, the budget for 2013-14 raises spending 6.6% and raises borrowing 39.1%.

Let’s look at the salaries of federal and Greenwich government employees. The administrator of the General Services Administration manages 12,000 employees and is responsible for a budget of $26 billion. He is paid $165,300. Our town administrator supervises 2,365 town and BOE employees and a budget of less than $400 million. He is paid $181,449. The Department of Homeland Security has 230,000 employees. Its general counsel is paid $155,000. Greenwich has 61,000 residents and its special counsel gets $170,093. There are many more examples of this.

What we need in Greenwich is less budgetary looseness and less discretion on the part of BET.

We should remove from BET the power to raise the mil rate and return this power to the people via referendum. As to capital projects, they need to be much more thoroughly analyzed and professionally presented before they are approved. Finally, as to debt and borrowing, let us return to the discipline and wisdom of historical Greenwich.

 

Gerrit Argento
Greenwich

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