Democrats will bring change to BET to benefit taxpayers

FI-Letter-to-the-EditorTo the Editor

Greenwich voters, even Republicans, should seriously consider casting all six of their Board of Estimate votes for the six Democrats on the ballot.

The party with the most cumulative votes in the BET election chooses the chairman of the BET. The chairman of the BET is probably the most powerful elected official in Greenwich. The chair controls the agenda of the powerful finance board and gets a tie-breaking vote.

The Republicans have controlled the BET for decades, itself never a healthy situation. In recent years, despite historically low long-term interest rates, the BET Republicans have stuck to their austerity policies that restrict the use of long-term debt and impose a low debt cap. These policies are not serving our residents well. They will cost taxpayers more money and undermine property values.

As BET member Sean Goldrick explained in his recent Greenwich Post column, Greenwich’s debt as a percentage of our grand list, the so-called “debt burden,” is tiny compared with other AAA-rated towns at less than 0.5%, but our debt service payments are relatively high at 6% of the operating budget. The state of Connecticut’s debt service is just 8.8%.

A Goldman Sachs advisor recently told the BET that current policies are not smart finance. They are risky, unfair to current residents, irrational, and ignorant of basic financial management teachings.

Greenwich is sitting on a long list of capital projects that it will eventually implement. These are not new or grandiose spending projects. Many are mundane maintenance and infrastructure repair projects, such as replacing the undersized, leaking Byram pool, dredging Binney Pond, and upgrading the town’s storm water management structures.

Greenwich needs to act now instead of waiting for inflation and higher interest rates to make them far more costly and raising property taxes.

It’s time for a change.

 

Peter E Berg
Cos Cob

 The author is a former Democratic member of the BET.

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