I’m still trying to find out details, but at least education doesn’t appear to be suffering as much as I feared.
Category Archives: referendum
“I myself am not able to afford to live in this town,” [Theresa] McGrath said. She said her agenda was to cut taxes. “I don’t want to move. I’m going to have to move,” she said.
Maybe I’m crazy, but if West Hartford Taxpayer co-prez Theresa McGrath is moving, why is she setting our community’s agenda? If she’s “going to have to move” then why is she given any attention at all? I can barely afford to stay, but I’m staying. She isn’t, apparently, so why do we care what she says?
The town council plans to hold a public comment hearing on how to revise the budget starting at 7:30 p.m. The council itself will vote on Wednesday night.
“Residents are welcome to come and offer their views,” Mayor Scott Slifka told the Courant. “We want to make sure people know about it and that it will be televised.”
So what will happen? What should we tell the council? What should the council do?
My own suggestion is simple: don’t cut more from education.
The town manager laid out for the council what it will take to reach different tax hike percentages. Here’s a PDF of the information that the council got.
I imagine that once the council picks how much it wants to cut, the town manager and school superintendent will lay out what specific cuts can be made to reach the target. That’s the point where we’ll see the blood and hear the screams. It won’t be pretty.
For those who can’t bear to see the details, to cut the increase for most homeowners from 6.6 percent — the level of the adopted budget that voters gunned down — to 4.5 percent this year would require slashing $3.4 million from the existing spending plan. To get to a 3 percent tax hike means wiping out $5.8 million from the budget. A tax freeze would take $10.6 million.
The numbers are just plain scary.
The choice that our town leaders face is clear: they can either slash education more deeply or they can dump long-established services that town residents value.
Today’s story in The Hartford Courant devotes too much space to debunking the misleading numbers used by the West Hartford Taxpayers Association — old news, guys! — and not enough to what’s in store next.
But we do learn from the story that “the council will have to look to eliminate or reduce things that are in the budget, such as town services. ‘This is not something you can address adequately by trimming,’ [Mayor Scott] Slifka said. ‘We’re looking at wholesale service reductions.’
“Officials said they are considering eliminating the town’s vacuum-truck leaf pick-up service and instead requesting that residents place bagged leaves at the curb for pickup.
“Officials expect to have suggested reductions by the end of the week, and the council expects to adopt a new budget at its next meeting on June 26.”
I’m fine with dropping the vacuum trucks. They make a heckuva racket anyway.
What else can we do to save money on the municipal side of the budget? The schools can’t take more cuts.
While I know there were many people who voted against the budget because they wanted more money for education, there’s no sense arguing that a majority of those who voted are not looking for more cuts. Obviously, given the margin, there’s no other way to analyze what happened.
But I still believe a large majority in this town opposes more education cuts. That they didn’t vote is a testament to the price of inattentiveness. And now their kids will pay the price.
Still, I’d like to see the town council focus its attention in areas other than education. Replace fewer curbs, pave fewer streets, postpone sensible maintenance in the hope that next year will be better. Maybe if Joe Visconti hit a pothole or two he might see the need for the town to spend some money on municipal services.
Anyway, what’s done is done. Now we need to pressure the town council not to swing its ax at the schools again. Been there, done that. Focus on something else, guys and gals.
For me, it’s yes.
But let’s see how it goes Tuesday. Reports from the polls are welcome.