DesChamps & Kalb: Smart leadership and low taxes go hand in hand.

Submitted by Matt DesChamps and Scott Kalb, Democratic candidates for Greenwich Board of Estimate and Taxation

You may have received an email from a former state representative warning that if Democrats are elected to local office this November, your taxes will increase by “up to 50% in the next few years.”

This baseless claim is designed to alarm and distract busy residents from looking too closely at how our town’s finances are mismanaged under Republican control of the Board of Estimate and Taxation (BET).

The bottom line is that you are not getting your money’s worth under poor Republican stewardship of town finances. Smarter planning can deliver better services at lower cost.

Here’s just one example of their mismanagement.

Last year, the fire department requested $1.4 million to replace an aging fire truck. During the April 2022 budget deliberations, Democrats on the BET voted to approve the request, but the Republican majority used their tie-breaking vote to block the funding.

This year, Republicans finally joined their Democratic colleagues on the BET to approve funding for the fire truck, but here’s the catch. The truck now costs $300,000 more than when the request was first made, and our families’ safety was put at risk for an extra year.

The story gets worse. This month, all three of the town’s fire trucks experienced mechanical failures and were out of service for days, leaving Greenwich without a working ladder engine. Imagine what could have happened. Moreover, the Fire Department had to request an additional $500,000 to cover escalating costs since that original funding request.

This debacle is typical of how our tax dollars have been mismanaged – adding unnecessary delays, increasing costs, allowing Town assets to degrade, and multiplying safety risks for our town residents. The majority party on the BET has added tens of millions of dollars to the costs of repairing our schools by waiting until things fall apart completely, instead of addressing critical infrastructure needs.

As any homeowner knows, if there is a leak in the roof, you don’t wait for the roof to collapse before fixing it. And Greenwich has had its share of collapses. In 2019 the Cardinal Stadium bleachers were condemned, in 2021 the ceiling at North Mianus school collapsed, in 2022 Central Middle School was declared structurally unsafe and had to be shut down, and for years we have had open sewage flow through Old Greenwich School when it rains. What’s next?

Our town deserves better than this. Managing our finances better doesn’t require raising taxes. It requires a better vision. Acting only when a crisis is at your doorstep is no way to run a town of 63,000 people. It takes experienced managers who know how to plan not just for the current year, but for 3 or 5 or 10 years down the line. The Democratic slate for the BET is composed of seasoned finance and business professionals who have successfully brought that mindset to clients and businesses for decades. And with a majority vote on November 7, we will do it for Greenwich.

Matt DesChamps and Scott Kalb Democratic Candidates for the Board of Estimate and Taxation

NOTE: Deadline to submit letters to the editor regarding the Nov 7 election is October 30, 2023 at 12:00 noon. Not every letter will be published. Include your phone number and address (not for publication).