Democratic suggestions for town spending are reckless

FI-Letter-to-the-EditorTo the Editor

The BET has been criticized for not spending enough on town and school capital needs.

Critics, including some BET Democrats, want to dramatically alter the town’s debt policy by doubling our debt ceiling and extending the terms of bond financing. They want to greatly increase spending, forcing the town to raise taxes well beyond the recent increases of 2.75%.

BET Republicans have been unanimous in their support of low and predictable tax increases while providing for the largest capital spending in the history of Greenwich. This includes $86m for Nathaniel Witherell, MISA and Central Fire Station.

Our debt policy establishes a debt ceiling of $210m ($3,367 per capita) and recommends multiple one-year bond anticipation notes (BANS) and five-year bonds for maximum flexibility to manage cash flow. Some BET Democrats have repeatedly urged that we more than double our debt ceiling to $430m and extend borrowing up to 20 years because other communities in Connecticut spend at those per capita levels and terms.

These suggestions are reckless. Our total debt is currently at $149m. In 2014, it’s expected to reach $183m before retreating to lower levels in subsequent years. Do we need 20-year financing? MISA will be financed over 10 years through the use of cash flow, low-interest BANS and five-year notes.

Some say, Why not borrow hundreds of millions of dollars now to tackle all of our important jobs immediately? Because our town has significant managerial constraints. DPW is busy with the fire station, transfer station, Cos Cob Park, and other vital projects. MISA and Witherell are supervised by the few volunteers with the expertise and willingness to tackle these jobs. System constraints include increasingly cumbersome approval processes within the Building Department, P&Z, and other regulatory agencies.

BET Republicans are reviewing budget guidelines for the 2013-14 fiscal year. We believe a tax increase of 3% or less falls within our desire for low taxes and still provides $28m more for facility upgrades. The town will still be under its debt ceiling and in a position of financial strength that is the envy of any municipality in the nation.

 

Marc Johnson
Greenwich

 

The author is a Republican member running for re-election to the Greenwich Board of Estimate and Taxation.

 

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