Letter to the editor from Laura Erickson, Democratic candidate for BET, former chair of the Board of Education
To the Editor,
Last March I attended the BET’s public hearing on the capital budget and one of the speakers said something which resonated.
To paraphrase this individual, who was speaking on behalf of improvements at Cardinal Stadium, “Hey, if the process [for getting capital projects approved] is working so well for residents, why is it so hard? Why are there so many people here asking for money?” Herein lies a challenge for all BET members and our greater community.
I am one of six Democratic candidates for the Board of Estimate and Taxation. I have 17 years of experience as an elected official on the Board of Education and the RTM. My husband of thirty years and I first moved to Greenwich in 1993 and raised our three children, who attended Greenwich Public Schools K-12. As a resident and as a candidate, I take pride in our diverse community and the commitment of volunteers and civic leaders all over town who address problems with an open-minded
and solution-oriented approach.
The BET sets financial policies and tax rates for the citizenry. Too often, capital projects end up getting pushed out, reduced in scope or split into phases in order to make the existing financial model work but which end up costing the taxpayer more and deprive the residents of the use of modern infrastructure, playable fields and ADA compliant buildings.
Maybe the answer to the question of why so many residents are frustrated is simply that the process which has seemingly worked in the past isn’t working any longer. We need to look past rhetoric and figure out how to get results. We need to deploy the financial tools available which include current tax year receipts, private public partnerships, short term borrowing as well as longer term maturities. All of these options are already in use in the Town of Greenwich. Politicizing viable financing strategies does not serve our residents well.
The Town’s 15 year capital plan, the BOE’s master facilities plan and The Draft Plan of Conservation and Development offer a comprehensive road map for the future. Our residents need to proactively engage with municipal officeholders to prioritize the needs of the community. Then, it is the BET’s job to figure out how to finance those priorities while respecting the taxpayer and the community’s long history of an attractive and competitive mill rate.
On Tuesday November 5th registered Greenwich voters who go to the polls or cast absentee ballots will elect our local town officials. Municipal officeholders impact our schools, town services, amenities which improve our quality of life, our tax rates and our community values.
How are we going to best move forward? Please support the Democratic slate of candidates on Election Day.