Op-Ed: Understanding the Coming Property Revaluation

How will New Canaan property taxes be affected by the Oct. 1, 2018 real estate revaluation that’s currently in process? The answer to this question will vary by homeowner, but it’s worth thinking about its effect on taxpayers in general. For simplicity, let’s set aside the budget’s other moving parts and examine the impact of the revaluation alone. After every real estate revaluation, the Board of Finance determines whether the tax rate (the “mill rate”) needs to be adjusted to keep tax revenues constant.

Op-Ed: The Brick Barn Risk to Taxpayers

The Mead Park Brick Barn debate should focus on New Canaan taxpayers. Should we underwrite the cost of preserving the Barn in perpetuity? Most would say no. 

The New Canaan Preservation Alliance claims that its September 12 proposal “Eliminates all Town costs related to [the] Barn.” That’s what taxpayers want to hear. But the claim would be true only if the State of Connecticut continues grant and tax credit programs at current levels for several years, if the State approves the full amount of NCPA submissions in each of three consecutive years, and if private donations are sufficient to defray any short-term and long-term maintenance costs not funded by the State. 

That’s a lot of “ifs.”

Op-Ed: School Budget Cuts—Testing the Rhetoric

In public meetings and media reports, it’s becoming clear that the New Canaan Board of Finance will act this week to approve a school budget for 2018-2019 that’s as much as $1 million less than requested by the Board of Education. In April, the Town Council will decide whether to make additional reductions. These are important decisions, so it’s worth scrutinizing the logic behind these moves. Premise #1: Major cuts can be made from administrative and back-office functions with no impact in the classroom. The problem with this premise is that virtually all administrative functions have a direct and important impact on the performance of teachers in the classroom.

Op-Ed: School Success and School Budgets

Breathtaking accolades for our schools continue to roll in. On Feb. 9, the Connecticut Department of Education released its annual statewide school ratings. Drum roll: New Canaan is the number one district in the State once more. Remarkably, we’re among only 27 percent of districts whose rating improved.

Op-Ed: Why I’m Running for Town Council

I’m a sucker for a good cause. I’m always inspired by the film classic, “Mr. Smith Goes to Washington,” where an ordinary citizen fights for what he believes is right. I found a good cause at the April 24 meeting of the Utilities Commission, at which public input was sought on a proposal to improve cell phone service. The meeting was a train wreck. The UC members are smart, caring, and technically savvy volunteers whose only interest is to make New Canaan a safer, better place to live.