The financial choice

FI-EditorialWhen voters head to the polls on Nov. 5, Greenwich will have the opportunity to make choices about the town’s direction. One of the most important ones will be about the town’s financial future.

That’s why it’s vital for Greenwich residents to go out and vote and, if necessary, cross party lines to support the Democratic line for the Board of Estimate and Taxation (BET), allowing Democrats to take the board’s chairmanship. This is a chance for the residents to fight for the projects they care about as well as support fiscal policy that is smart, responsible and, yes, conservative.

Endorsing a platform that calls for investment in town infrastructure will save the town money in the long run and attract new families (meaning new taxpayers) to Greenwich.

BET elections are not usually cause for great suspense. For the 12-person board, the Republicans put forth six candidates and the Democrats do the same, each member vetted and approved by the political parties. Voters go in and vote, out of habit, for the party they’re a member of. And since Republicans enjoy a rather healthy registered voter majority, the only question is usually which BET Republican will have bragging rights of being the biggest vote getter.

This year it should be different. Republicans might not make it a habit of voting for Democrats, but it’s the BET Democrats who are proposing the better policy.

For too long, BET Republicans have had one goal above all, and that’s keeping the mill rate increase as low as possible, forcing cuts to do it. That’s an understandable goal. Who loves paying more taxes? But by holding Greenwich to an artificial debt limit and spending cap, infrastructure is allowed to deteriorate and needed projects are pushed to the future, when they will be more expensive.

Over the past year, Democrats have been more and more public about calling for a different way, and Greenwich is better off for having heard this debate. Democrats are calling for a revision in the debt policy to allow the town to begin long-term borrowing for major capital projects, taking advantage of low interest rates and spreading the cost of a project over its useful life while not making current taxpayers take the full brunt of it.

It must be remembered that it’s the BET Democrats who went to bat time and time again for projects like The Nathaniel Witherell’s Project Renew and MISA at Greenwich High School (which wouldn’t even be going forward without the BET Democrats). It’s Democrats who have called for moving forward on dredging Binney Pond, replacing the eyesore of a municipal pool and making sure our schools do not have their maintenance budgets cut. It’s actually the BET Democrats who have been more on the same page with the capital proirities of First Selectman Peter Tesei than his fellow Republicans.

This does not mean handing the Democrats the town credit card and telling them to go nuts. That’s not what the Democrats are calling for at all. This is smart investment as part of a long-term plan, and it will pay off when families considering Greenwich see a thriving infrastructure and a town that meets citizen needs and then choose to move here and not Westchester. or elsewhere in Fairfield County.

Democrats are not calling for a wildly increased mill rate or radical overspending. This is smart financial management that, by investing wisely and planning for the future, is more conservative than just slashing budgets. Greenwich residents will have a choice, and even if they don’t typically vote for Democrats, they should consider the party’s policies and see that it’s the Democrats who have the better vision for Greenwich.

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