BET Republicans: We Are Ready to Serve

Letter to the editor from the six BET members: Bill Drake, Andy Duus, Karen Fassuliotis, Debra Hess, Mike Mason and Leslie Tarkington

Our experienced team is honored to have been endorsed by the Greenwich Republican Town Committee to continue our service as Republican members of the Board of Estimate and Taxation. The six of us – Bill Drake, Andy Duus, Karen Fassuliotis, Debra Hess, Mike Mason and Leslie Tarkington – ask for your support and your vote on November 5.

We are long-time residents of Greenwich and are currently members of the Board of Estimate and Taxation. We bring many years of successful experience in managing the Town’s finances for the benefit of every Greenwich resident. Next year, our team will continue to work closely with the next Board of Selectmen and other Town leaders to build upon our Town’s strengths.

Our objective has been and will continue to be to manage our Town’s finances carefully while ensuring that Greenwich remains a wonderful place to live, work, raise a family, and retire.

Control of our State government by the Democratic party has been painful for Greenwich. Over the last five years, the State has reduced its support of Greenwich’s municipal budget by an annual average of $5 million. These reductions have raised the tax burden on all Town residents. The State may again threaten to burden municipalities with a new and unprecedented requirement to pay for some of the underfunded State-run teacher pension obligation. If this were to occur, the impact on our taxes would be severe: Greenwich would be the worst-hit community in the State. Given that the State’s finances are very weak, we can expect the State to impose more tax burdens on Greenwich and its residents. We commit to oppose State policies that negatively impact our residents and will work with the Board of Selectmen to make sure that Greenwich’s message is heard in Hartford.

Over many years, the careful financial practices of our Republican predecessors on the BET have contributed to the Town’s financial strength and the high quality of our infrastructure. Our large capital items are financed with short-term borrowing. This approach has worked extremely well for the residents of Greenwich. Our public infrastructure of 15 high-quality public schools, extraordinary parks, new Police and Fire Department facilities, extensive well-maintained roads and other Town facilities is the fruit of this long-established, conservative and planned approach. Responsibly using debt has meant lower interest costs and lower taxes, a policy that benefits every resident. The current proven and successful method of paying for our infrastructure will continue to have our strong support.

We recognize the importance of long-term forecasting of both operating expenses and capital projects. Currently, capital projects are approved on a year-to-year basis. Changing the way we plan for and approve capital spending and the related bonding will enable us to predict and manage tax rates while continuing a strong program of capital improvements. Toward that goal, we pledge to work with the First Selectman to improve the capital planning process.

Our exceptional school system is one of the great strengths of Greenwich and our Board of Education and the School’s administration and teachers have been working to provide our students with a high-quality education. Our eleven neighborhood elementary schools, three middle schools, and Greenwich High School have a well-earned reputation for excellence. We pledge to work in partnership with the Board of Education and the administration of the Greenwich Public Schools to assure that public school students in every neighborhood exceed statewide performance standards. We will continue the dialogue with the Board of Education on their ambitious capital plan, as part of an improved capital improvement process.

We also pledge to support high quality services while finding ways to reduce costs by, for example, implementing efficiencies through changed processes, use of technology, and shared services. We are committed, where it makes sense, to continuing to seek opportunities to reduce the costs of government without sacrificing the excellent services our residents have come to expect. We will encourage our residents’ remarkable private support of the many public-private partnerships which have been a genuine benefit to Town residents.

The principles we share – careful spending, modest borrowings, low taxes and high-quality services – have contributed toward the successful management of the Town’s budget for many years. As a team, we are excited to have the opportunity to continue to serve you and this wonderful Town. We are eager to speak with you about our vision for continued excellence and we ask for your support on November 5.

Bill Drake, Andy Duus, Karen Fassuliotis, Debra Hess, Mike Mason and Leslie Tarkington are the incumbent Republican candidates for election to the Board of Estimate and Taxation on November 5.