Op-Ed: Rocketing Tax Rates, Declining Property Values

I needed an attention grabber for a title, but this piece focuses on the implications of publicly available data and is not intended to be provocative. It is a summary of how your tax dollars are being spent locally and what needs to be done to change it if we are going to start being fiscally responsible and have the best shot at maintaining, or I dare say, growing property values over time. Although the topic may seem boring, bear with me, because the numbers are enthralling…unfortunately in a bad way currently. First, a caveat in anticipation of some nasty and/or ignorant responses that will likely come my way for discussing the fiscal reality behind the veneer: we have excellent schools, a beautiful town and everyone I know, including myself, wants to keep it that way. I have gone to Hartford to give public testimony multiple times this year to fight against forced school regionalization as well as statewide car and property taxes that will exacerbate negative trends facing all residents. Second, my experience with every town representative I have talked to is that they are well intended people. They are representing us on a voluntary basis and have spent many hours in town meetings, along with work outside of meetings.

Op-Ed: Something’s Gone Askew in Town Budget Talks

Something seems to be askew in this year’s deliberations over the town budget. 

The budget process began in November 2018, when the Board of Finance unanimously adopted “Budget Guidelines for Fiscal Year 2019-2020.” The BOF analysis was thoughtful, thorough, and conservative. It determined that a $3 million (2 percent) cap on spending growth would protect the town financially while continuing services at levels citizens demand. 

Meeting the guidelines became a consensus goal for Town managers and school leaders. The guidelines were the centerpiece of an offsite budget meeting of all the key stakeholders on Nov. 17.