BET Democrats will benefit taxpayers

FI-Letter-to-the-EditorTo the Editor

The BET Republicans claim that they have “been careful spending the public’s money … and developed the financial framework that has made Greenwich the envy of many other communities.” But this is not true.

In fact, the pay-as-you-go system they implemented ended in failure in 2007 when the town, beginning to make up for years of neglect of our infrastructure, nearly ran out of cash. Since then, instead of implementing a sensible fiscal policy to improve our infrastructure and make up for years of poor maintenance, the BET Republicans have saddled taxpayers with an unworkable policy of short-term debt and high cash outlays that unfairly socks current taxpayers with far too much of the long-term cost.

In the Republicans’ proposed guidelines, instead of taking advantage of cheap interest rates to borrow long-term, they take $63 million from taxpayers for capital projects, 16% of the total budget. New borrowing totals just $14 million. That places nearly all of the cost on current taxpayers for capital projects that will be used for decades, unfairly burdening current taxpayers, pushing up the mill rate, while requiring nothing from future taxpayers.

The plan demands high cash outlays, raising taxes on current taxpayers, but keeping debt far below the rating agencies’ requirements for a AAA rating. The Republicans’ cap puts our debt ratio at less than a quarter of the median of AAA-rated towns nationally, but at the cost of unnecessarily high current tax rates.

Instead, we should take advantage of low rates to finance long-delayed capital projects.

While pushing the tax bill higher, the town has been reactive in its capital improvements, investing in sewer repairs only when forced by the EPA after five major sewer line breaks and rebuilding Hamilton Avenue and Glenville schools only after they badly deteriorated. All six BET Republicans voted against funding MISA, while all six Democrats voted for it.

Rational budgeting means taking advantage of historically low bond rates to finance improvements too long delayed. The Democratic approach of spreading out our capital costs and locking in low rates will substantially reduce pressure on taxes, not increase them.

 

 

Sean Goldrick, Randy Huffman, John Blankley and Jeff Ramer
Greenwich

The authors are Democratic Party’s candidates for the Greenwich Board of Estimate and Taxation.

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