LETTER: Why Choosing the Right BET Team Matters

Letter to the editor from Mike Warner, Past Chair RTM Finance Committee 2013-2017

In 2017, the Greenwich Democratic team (aka the caucus) won control of the BET and directed how our town would manage its finances for the next two years. Did those “tax-and-spend Democrats” put on tin-foil party hats and spend the next two years squandering our tax dollars on pet projects that added little real value to our town?

On the contrary, for the first time in memory, the Dems showed us how smart governance, unshackled from outdated political doctrine, can work to the town’s benefit.

Let’s see how the Democratic team did:

• Under Democratic leadership, the BET lowered the mill rate from 2.98% to 2.75%, when Jill Oberlander, Chair of the BET, used her tie-breaking vote to get the decrease passed.

This decrease was made possible when the Democratic Tax Collector, Howard Richman, went after past-due taxes owed to the town – in some cases for decades. The result?

The Democrats voted to return the excess of $810,000 (in the cash reserves) to the taxpayers.

• Then those “crazy Democrats” prevented $1.7 million in cuts to school budgets, again using their majority tie-breaking vote to block those proposed Republican cuts. Rather than continuing the Republican approach of ignoring problems for as long as possible (until for example, a ceiling tile fell in the high school lunchroom, injuring a child), the Democrats believe in taking a proactive approach to keeping our town assets up to date.

• Similarly, the Democratic majority used their tie-breaking vote to fund a long-term study of the effects of climate change on town-owned properties, to avoid unpleasant surprises for our town down the road. The Republicans said, “Climate change?” and then voted to delay it.

In November, voters will elect either a Democratic BET caucus or the Republican BET caucus.

The caucus with the most votes will control the BET. Once again, I’ll vote for the smart, forward-looking governance the Democrats bring to the table, not for the expensive surprises that result from short-sighted Republican political doctrine.

Mike Warner
Chair RTM Finance Committee 2013-2017