Meet Dan and Anne.
They are a real couple planning their future together. Dan has a finance job in New York City. Anne is the mom of two beautiful daughters, one a toddler and the other a baby. Since the baby came, they are thinking about moving from their home in New York. Where should they go? The answer will answer whether or not New Canaan is a thriving town in the years ahead.
Is New Canaan a good value?
If you have lived here as long as I have, you might have developed loyalty to New Canaan. I certainly have. You might have watched some of the over 300 times Coach Marinelli’s New Canaan Rams have won football games and feel good about New Canaan winning (and, just as importantly, Darien losing). But newcomers will keep coming only if we offer the best value proposition. Let’s take a look…
What does it cost?
Dan and Anne could buy a median home in Greenwich for about $1.36 million or a median home in New Canaan for slightly less — $1.32 million. By the square foot, Greenwich costs about $660 while New Canaan is about $440. So, New Canaan has a cost advantage. Greenwich real estate fully recovered from the financial crisis; New Canaan didn’t. But New Canaan has to be careful to remain affordable. Why? Taxes.
We need low taxes to protect property values. New Canaan’s mill rate is higher than Greenwich’s, so its cost advantage starts to go away on an after tax basis. To stay ahead, we need to attack both factors that feed into the mill rate: our net grand list (by attracting young families such as Dan and Anne’s) and our indebtedness (by controlling government spending).
Value is not just about cost, but also about what you get for that cost. What do newcomers get? Five A+ rated public schools. New Canaan High is rated the best public high school in Connecticut. We have award winning teachers and a stellar leader in our superintendent Dr. Bryan Luizzi. Greenwich fares well too, coming in at number three. Overall, we have an advantage, but it is a competitive field.
Where should Dan and Anne go? Here, of course. New Canaan is rightly ranked as the #1 place to raise a family in Connecticut. Greenwich is fine, I guess, but it is down at #12. How do we keep our competitive advantage so that we stay #1 for the next decade? We protect our property values with low taxes and strong schools. We look around at what is working and we build on our strengths.
Why should you care? If you are a taxpayer, a government that combines sane spending with low taxes could make a real impact on your long-term wealth. If government doesn’t waste your money, you can compound what you keep. Clearly, parents and students should insist that we protect our strong schools. But everyone benefits when our strong schools attract new families and protect our property values.
If elected to our town council, Rich Townsend will work to keep our taxes down and our schools strong. It is just a part-time volunteer job, so there is no pressure to do anything else. While he is not new to this community, he is new to its politics. That might be an advantage. He is ready on day one to work with friends who are fellow Republicans as well as friends who are Democrats in order to do what is best for New Canaan.