Letter to the Editor


NewCanaanite.com recently received the following letter(s). Email editor@newcanaanite.com to publish your letter here. 


I’m writing today to strongly advocate that we do not reduce town funding to Health and Human Services during this budget period. Our Grand List is up 23.6%; $750,000 of ARPA funds are being transferred into our town’s General Fund. Our Board of Selectmen have approved a $176.8 Million budget up 6.09% year over year, with increases driven by a variety of factors including inflation, health insurance, school staffing, and information technology. 

At the same time, there is an interest in finding savings to offset these headwinds. As taxpayers, we of course have interest in these savings. Many of us, myself included, also have children in the New Canaan public schools. What we also need to consider is HOW those are achieved. I’m writing today to raise concerns about the proposed reductions to the Health and Human Services contributions made by the town versus the requested funding increase of .1% over current spend; and to challenge the statement made by our First Selectman that private contributions are an acceptable substitute for these modest contributions made by the town. As a former member and then leader of our Board of Education, she should know intimately the mental health challenges our students face every day. 

We are seeing many great and ongoing improvements to our town; just a few of the many highlights include the renovation of our Police Station, a new ice rink, potential new pickleball courts in Waveny Park, and a new fitness area also planned for Waveny. These, and many other improvements, continue make our town a great place to live and drive ongoing growth in our real estate values and attracting new community members. 

At the same time, we are not immune to the pressures of the world in our wonderful town. Mental health for all citizens continues to be essential. Whether it’s our students, adults, or seniors, each population needs and deserves support through programs such as Silver Hill’s Urgent Assessment Program, Teen Talk counselors, New Canaan CARES programming, and the Domestic Violence Crisis Center to name just a few. We attract and retain members of our community by our outstanding school system, and perhaps less well known, by our outstanding support for our citizens who wish to age in place (even to the point where the older relatives of residents are attracted to move here for exactly this reason). Getabout and Meals on Wheels are an essential component of this attraction. 

I urge our Board of Finance and Town Council to support the incredibly modest increase requested by Health and Human Services as proposed. 


Irene Hendricks

5 thoughts on “Letter to the Editor

  1. Irene just articulated everything I’ve been thinking about for months.

    As a working mother in town there was a period when both Getabout and Meals on Wheels were incredible services as I navigated assisting a parent with progressing needs to age in place as long as possible in my home.

    Could we ask private donors to fund these and the other fiscally efficient, essential social service agencies Ms Carlson targeted in an announcement seeking budget cuts? Yes. Should we? Absolutely not.

    These agencies have all earned and deserve our Town’s steadfast, if not increasing support. Let’s not target the vulnerable in our community. It would be an asset for the Town to be able to telegraph publicly the importance it places on such services.

  2. It would seem an inopportune time, given the existential fact that the ‘world is very much with us,’ for New Canaan to squeeze on ‘health and human services’ in our town.

  3. Excellent letter, Irene. I could not agree more that we should not reduce town funding to Health and Human Services. Although New Canaan is a very generous town, trying to rely on private funding for critical services means those funds are subject to donors’ interests, which may not line up with need. Covid, and our increasing understanding of how mental and behavioral health impact the success and wellbeing of our citizens, should make reliable funding in this area a priority.

  4. Thank you, Irene. I am grateful for your letter. You speak for me and far more eloquently than I could have done it. I have witnessed firsthand the life-saving and life-affirming work that our HHS has done and continues to do daily for every New Canaanite in need. A true measure of success for any community is when we adequately look after the most vulnerable among us.

  5. Thank you Irene for voicing what many of us are thinking. I have written letters this week in support of continuing to fund the teen talk counselor at Saxe which is a critical position for mental health support for our children during their middle school years. I cannot fathom why Ms Carlson, with her experience as a member of the Board of Education, is targeting the removal of this position and I hope that other town leadership will agree to its necessity and push to continue to fund it.

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