Goldrick’s take on debt is misguided

FI-Letter-to-the-EditorTo the Editor

Sean Goldrick wrote an impassioned commentary that Greenwich shouldn’t be scared of carefully planned long-term debt. I vehemently disagree.

It’s true our property tax rate is the lowest in Connecticut, but the absolute mill rate does not say anything about the amount that each homeowner pays. Because our property values are the highest in Connecticut, a homeowner’s property tax payment is far from the lowest.

Many families make very substantial tax payments twice a year that are quite a burden on them, especially in a depressed economy. The mill rate is simply the mathematical result of the town’s annual budget divided by the grand list.  That’s it. This concentration on the presumably “low” mill rate is completely misguided.

Why does the grand list come in at $43 billion?  Because we have a debt burden of only 0.3%. Given the very high debt that we already experience on a national level, it’s comforting to know we live in a town that doesn’t add much to the total indebtedness per person, including babies.

It’s like the snake biting into its own tail. The higher the debt level, the lower the grand list, resulting in a higher mill rate, resulting in more debt and, again, a lower grand list. It’s a downward spiral we should not be tempted into.

Mr. Goldrick wrote current residents get stuck with a large bill for current investments for MISA, Nathaniel Witherell, etc., and “subsequent taxpayers get the use of major facilities virtually for free.” That’s simply not true. Every generation pays for its own projects, preferably on a pay-as-you-go basis.

My son attends Julian Curtiss. Who paid for Julian Curtiss? A prior generation.

Today we are benefiting from that capital project from the 1940s. We benefit from facilities that were paid for by taxpayers that came before us and we pay for capital investments that are also to the benefit of future residents of Greenwich.

Only a generation that incurs debt and tries to push off amortization to future taxpayers behaves unfairly in this social generational contract.


Jean-Jacques Illi

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