Submitted by Laura Erickson, Miriam Kreuzer, Jeff Ramer, Leslie Moriarty, Stephen Selbst, and David Weisbrod
When did “investment” become a dirty word in Greenwich, one of the nation’s premier financial centers? We are the Democratic candidates for the BET. Our core belief is that investments to support essential Town services and priority capital projects need to be properly planned for and funded. We are a team with financial, business and legal expertise and each of us has deep community connections.
As the minority party for the past two years, we’ve had a front row seat to a failure of Republican leadership to enact forward-thinking planning.
We watched as they’ve slashed the BOE operating budget and cut, deferred or eliminated critical infrastructure projects, which ultimately raises the bill for taxpayers who have to pay for inflated construction costs, emergency fixes, increased insurance premiums and legal settlements.
Now, in the midst of campaign season, we have to stand up for facts. The Republicans running for the BET are not being honest about their record.
Here’s a partial recap of the votes we lost because we did not have that crucial tie-breaking vote afforded to the party with the most collective votes:
• All Town departments and the BOE had their FY21 operating budgets held flat to the prior year. The cut to the BOE budget of $3.1 million created a tremendous amount of disruption and distress to administrators and families. The cut came just days after the public hearing process concluded and without any input from the elected BOE or school administrators, who were left scrambling to address the shortfall. During the onset of the pandemic, instead of laser-focus on delivering educational services and meeting the needs of students and families, school administrators were left crunching numbers. It was totally unnecessary given the Town’s ample Rainy Day fund, and GPS’ long history in returning unused funds at the end of the fiscal year.
• After the ceiling collapse at North Mianus School, Republicans delayed the funding for repairs and created needless bureaucratic delays. The Republicans eliminated an engineering study for Central Middle School which would have provided critical information for future planning for that facility.
• Julian Curtiss School renovations to address air quality, security, accessibility, and insufficient educational spaces have been stalled for two years because the six seated Republicans did not believe that the addition of a science room, Pre-K classrooms and larger common spaces is necessary. It is the elected Board of Education that is responsible for educational specifications. The BET is charged with a funding plan. The needless delay has a domino effect on other school projects. Old Greenwich School is next in line. With high inflation of construction costs, the outcome of the Republican BET’s overstepping would be a lesser asset for more money. This is poor financial asset management.
• The Republicans did not provide for design funds for a combined volunteer/career firefighter station at Round Hill, one of the several recommendations made in the Matrix Fire Study. We have a study but no ability to implement the recommendations because the Republicans have chosen to stall again.
• Roadway maintenance, vehicle replacements, ADA accessibility funding, improvements to Holly Hill – cut, deferred or eliminated.
• Funds to plan for more frequent flooding and a proposed bike route study were blocked. The lack of forward thinking puts the safety of our residents at risk.
As your Democratic BET Candidates, we believe that true fiscal prudence is analyzing the risk and reward of every investment made in our Town with our residents in mind. We believe in thinking beyond the short term and planning for the future, which is how to maintain low and predictable property taxes. Making sure public safety is a priority, town services are delivered efficiently, our schools are first rate, our parks and recreational amenities meet our needs are selling points for Greenwich.
A government that is working for residents should transcend politics and it should make decisions based on common sense and sound financial principles. Greenwich is diverse and our approach should be bipartisan and solution-oriented. We vow to collaborate with the First Selectman, the Board of Education and the RTM in setting realistic goals and priorities in our budgets, and to listen to constituents. After all, the Town budget reflects our community values and our plan for the future.
We vow to not waste people’s time or money. Needless bureaucratic delays aren’t fiscal prudence. They are costly to our tax bills, our property values and our quality of life.
We respectfully request that voters vote for ALL 6 of the Democratic candidates listed below on November 2.
Deadline to submit letters to the editor for candidates in the Nov 2, 2021 municipal election is Oct 26, 2021. Email to [email protected]