Senate Candidates Debate Best Way to Address State’s Pension Fund Deficit

Candidates for the 26th and 36th State Senate Districts discussed how best to address Connecticut’s $100 million-plus pension fund deficit, which has been called one of the worst in the country, during a lively debate hosted by the New Canaan League of Women Voters Monday at Town Hall. “Our pension unfunded liabilities have more than doubled, from 87% of assets to 200% of assets, in 10 years,” explained Republican incumbent Sen. Toni Boucher, who seeks another term representing the 26th Senate District, before a packed house. “We’re putting ourselves a great risk. This [pension fund deficit] is something that is talked about in Wall Street and in the ratings agencies all the time.”

Finding a workable solution that is amenable to politicians on both side of the aisle, however, is “not going to be easy,” Boucher said. She said Governor Dannel Malloy’s recent decision to refinance the state’s unfunded pension obligations out another 30 years is “only going to exacerbate our problem” by “adding $11 billion in costs for taxpayers and future generations.”

“This is wrong – and [Gov. Malloy] did it without even adjusting and phasing-in a 401K plan to replace the defined benefit plan,” said Boucher, who serves as a Chief Deputy Senate Republican Majority Leader and is co-chair of the House Education and Transportation committees, as well as vice-chair of the Banking and Finance, Revenue and Bonding committees.

Candidates Discuss State’s Fiscal Woes During LWV Debate

Connecticut’s worsening fiscal crisis, preserving state aid for public education and how to fund critical transportation infrastructure projects were among the tough topics tackled by candidates for the state House of Representatives during a well-attended debate hosted by the New Canaan League of Women Voters at Town Hall Monday. One thing that was clear from the debate is that Connecticut is in rough shape fiscally and that it’s going to take time and hard work to get things back on track. Tom O’Dea, a three-term Republican incumbent and New Canaan resident representing the 125th District, which includes parts of Wilton and New Canaan, defended his seat against Democratic challenger Ross Tartell, a Wilton resident and independent consultant who previously worked at GE Capital and Pfizer, and who also currently serves as a college professor at Teachers College, Columbia University. 

Meanwhile, Fred Wilms, a Norwalk resident and three-term Republican incumbent representing the 142nd District, which includes parts of Norwalk and New Canaan, defended his chair from Democrat and political newcomer Lucy Dathan, a New Canaan resident with a professional background in finance. The event, which also included a debate between the candidates for State Senate, was moderated by New Canaan resident and former LWV president Kate Hurlock. When asked what new revenue streams he would suggest to make Connecticut more fiscally sound, O’Dea, who serves on the legislature’s transportation committee, as well as the judiciary, legislative management and regulation review committee committees, said, “We don’t need more revenue streams. We have a $20 billion per year budget, and it should be $17 billion.

Town Council Mulls Development of Long-Term Plan for Budgeting

To aid in the budget process moving forward, the town government may soon be adopting a long-term financial plan (LTFP) which will essentially serve as a forecasting tool. Following the unanimous vote on the final, $151 million fiscal 2018-2019 town budget on Thursday at town hall, the New Canaan Town Council discussed a preliminary document outlining what the proposed five-year plan would include, which was drafted by vice chairman Rich Townsend. The purpose of the plan, as per the draft document, is to “provide all the town funded units the opportunity to participate in setting the financial assumptions and goals for the town” over a five year period. Basically, it would require all town departments and the Board of Education to furnish a five-year forecast including future costs, revenues, goals and needs to the Board of Finance before the budget process commences. “When we went through the budget, there were a lot of things that everybody wanted to do that would help us save money and help us work better with all the other organizations [in town],” Townsend explained after introducing the draft document.

Town Council Unanimously Approves $151 Million Town Budget

After months of intense negotiations, the 2018-2019 New Canaan town budget is finally a done deal. The New Canaan Town Council on Thursday unanimously approved a total town operating budget of $150,939,170, an increase of 1.89 percent, or $2,794,676 compared with the current budget of $148,144,503. This includes a town budget of $39,698,537, representing an increase of 1.33 percent or $522,184, and Board of Education budget of $89,763,487, representing an increase of 2.45 percent or $2,145,082, plus capital expenditures and debt service. The total amount to be collected via taxation is $139,395,729, which represents an increase of 2.08 percent compared with the current collection figure of $136,611,378. This means taxpayers are in effect facing a 2.08% percent budget hike in the coming fiscal year.

Birdcage Elevator Could be Best Option to Bring Waveny House Up to ADA Compliance

There could soon be a birdcage installed at Waveny House … a birdcage elevator, that is. Actually, a birdcage elevator is technically a “lift” and not an elevator, because it is not enclosed and utilizes hydraulics instead of cables. Aside from that trivial fact, the town is studying the possibility of installing the elevator for the purpose of bringing the historic building into compliance with the Americans With Disabilities Act. Currently, there are two ways to get from the first floor of Waveny House to the second floor: Stairs and an original “baggage elevator” that runs from the basement to the attic. However, the baggage elevator has not been used in decades and no longer works.