Due to the corona virus pandemic, Connecticut’s governor recently issued guidelines that delay decision-making on our state’s 2020-21 budget by 30 days.
On March 23, 2020 The Darien Times reported that Darien’s Board of Finance made the decision to delay its budget process by one month, taking advantage of the governor’s new guidelines. Darien’s Board of Finance will vote on that Town’s budget and set its important mill rate at its May 14 meeting.
Darien’s mill rate will be officially set June 10, 2020 when Darien’s Representative Town Meeting votes. Legislative powers of the Town of Darien are vested in that Town’s RTM’ which, according to its website, is composed of 100 members representing the Town’s six districts. The original date for the RTM budget vote was May 11. Following our governor’s issued guidelines, the RTM vote was moved to June 10.
New Canaan’s Government Calendar shows that New Canaan’s Town Council is set to vote on our Town’s 2020-2021 budget on April 2, 2020, nearly two months earlier than our counterparts in neighboring Darien. Why?
New Canaan’s budget process remains on a seemingly myopic path. Our elected and appointed officials will make tough decisions about spending to meet the April 2 deadline during this global pandemic, with its shockingly negative economic impacts being realized with each new day.
Our world has changed drastically during the past few weeks, and, given this global health and economic crisis, we should absolutely take more time to reflect on New Canaan’s proposed 2020-2021 budget, as well as our Town’s longer-term and very impactful and consequential capital expenditure budget. We must all take into consideration that New Canaan residents’ jobs will be lost, businesses will close, and New Canaan property values will continue to plummet.
The town’s proposed contribution of $10 Million towards the construction of a new library is an exceedingly generous one. New Canaan taxpayers already supplement more than two-thirds of the Library’s operating budget (about $2.4 million annually) and the Town of New Canaan has pledged $5 million for the new building. Now the Library is asking the Town, (New Canaan taxpayers), to increase it to $10 million.
Given that the Town’s proposed 2020-2021 budget was created before the corona virus pandemic, before businesses and our schools closed, let us re-examine this request before the MOU is signed. Let’s take time to examine whether the $16 Million raised in pledges and donations, so far, that comprise NCLI’s $20 million contribution to its project, will certainly be fulfilled. Will the project be stopped if all the NCLI’s cash (not pledges) is not available?
I am also very concerned about the NCLI’s planned demolition of the landmark 1913 building portion of today’s New Canaan Library. I support the Friends of Our 1913 Library, who seek to raise money to save this building, in situ, without affecting the NCLI’s proposed new library building. If the Friends of Our 1913 Library’s fundraising efforts to save, renovate and re-purpose the landmark 1913 library building fail in one year, the 1913 building can be demolished. This makes eminent sense to me.
Please consider delaying the overall spending decisions and vote on the Town’s 2020-21 budget by at least 30 days as neighboring Darien is doing.
Betty J. Lovastik