Op-Ed: So What’s So Great About New Canaan Anyway?

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.

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).

Schools

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.

#1

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.

So what?

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.

Election

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.

9 thoughts on “Op-Ed: So What’s So Great About New Canaan Anyway?

  1. Well, lets hope Dan and Anne don’t want cell service at their new New Canaan home, or mind that as they drive around that the service will come and go depending on where they are. Hopefully also, Dan does not mind waiting several years for a parking place so he can take the train into New York when he commutes to work.
    As a life long Republican, I am supporting the Democratic ticket in New Canaan because we need a change in direction that conserves what is good about this place but also which plans for a successful and prosperous future.
    Imagine how Dan and Anne would feel about having someone with an MBA in Finance as First Selectman (Kit Devereaux), or a retired CPA who can give his all as Town Treasurer (Rob Fryer)? How about a team of City Councilmen (Dobbyn, Gores-Donovan, Englund) who will support the same responsible investment in our town’s future?
    New Canaan is about uniting people and bringing out the best for us all. Unfortunately, today’s Republican party and so many of those who lead it have lost their way.
    You don’t have to be a professor of management to know that good leadership is critical to a successful and prosperous future for a business or a city. New Canaan’s Democrats have a strategic vision and plan that moves us towards a future where the next generation can be as excited to come and live here in New Canaan as the present and the prior ones were.

    • Better cell service & more commuter parking while keeping the schools #1 are going to cost $$$$, so no matter how you spin it, you won’t be able to invest in those things without raising taxes — Democrat or Republican. Bottom line, in order to keep taxes from creeping up and up and up, you’re going to have to make hard choices to prioritize some wishlist items over others even as all items are important & you’re going to have to upset some people (Because seriously who can make everyone happy? The fairest deal is for everyone to be equally unhappy, then you know you’re doing something right because no one got EVERYthing they wanted.)

      I’ll believe it when I see it, but I haven’t seen anyone in elected office who can manage to hold the line on taxes. If someone knows of a good example of such an elected official, I’d really love to know about it!🙂

      • Adding tiered parking to the Railroad Station Lumberyard Lot will pay for itself. The initial construction cost can be paid out of separate bonding so there would be no increase in taxes. Also, cell towers cost the town nothing. The construction of the towers are paid by the cell tower companies in return for a share of the rents that carriers pay for the right to use the towers. Thus, fixing these two town problems should not lead to any increase in tax cost and might increase property values so that we could lower the mill rate.

        • But a new parking garage won’t draw out of town folks that will be flocking to the new fields and track and then spending money at downtown stores.
          On another note Dan and Anne sound like hipsters. I think they would be happier in SONO where there is a wider choice of hoppy micro brews.

  2. Also please tell Dan and Ann that there are lovely homes, in my neck of the woods, many with 2 or 4 acres ,that can be had for less than 1.32 million. This might seal the deal for them.

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