Moriarty and Erickson: Our Rationale for Not Supporting the Amended FY24 Budget

Submitted by Democratic BET budget committee members Leslie Moriarty and Laura Erickson

After the conclusion of the Budget Committee’s work on the FY24 budget, we believe it is important for you to understand why we did not vote in favor of the amended budget. Our rationale was based on the following reasons:

Critical major school capital projects are not fully funded.

• As the budget stands, the Old Greenwich School Building Committee will run out of funds halfway through its planning work for the approved project scope. Our motions to complete the funding for pre-construction planning and authorize funding for construction so the BOE can apply for State grants this year were rejected. In turn, we rejected a motion to provide funding for a patchwork approach (which we believe is more costly in the end) to the issues at OG.

• We voted against a motion to reduce Central Middle School’s budget by $7.7 million given no new information that suggests the placeholder figure in last year’s budget is feasible.

• Our motion to restore $150,000 in planning funding for Riverside School renovations was rejected, delaying the start of this necessary project.

Our concern about the 25 votes on capital projects that were tied 2-2, which are a precursor for deferrals and reductions to necessary capital investment by the full BET given the Republican tie-breaking vote.

• The BET Budget Guidelines, which were approved on a 7-6 vote, tasked the First Selectman to trim the 5-year capital budget from $563 million to $400 million. This was accomplished by a detailed vetting and prioritizing of the entire budget. Despite that effort, our Republican colleagues on the BET Budget Committee want to reduce, eliminate or defer requests from 25 projects.

• This includes items such as training equipment and gear for the police department, a fire engine, partial funding of pickleball courts, reduced support for ADA compliance on Town sidewalks, and a number of highway and building maintenance projects.

Continued lack of long term planning as evidenced by continual deferrals and reluctance to properly fund the capital program.

• We are concerned about the level of commitment to improving our Town infrastructure and School facilities for all the residents.

• Our entire caucus has analyzed the numbers and there is a way to fund our capital needs using an appropriate capital tax levy to get us over the fiscal hump of funding two major school projects almost concurrently along with the long anticipated remediation of Western Middle School fields.

• As a matter of fairness, not to mention basic risk management and good governance, we do not support continuing to kick the can down the road.

We will continue discussions with all BET members to achieve our shared goals of maintaining Greenwich’s reputation as a desirable community that offers the services and amenities residents expect with the lowest achievable tax rate. The BET will be holding a public hearing on March 29 at 7:00 pm. We welcome your input.

Leslie Moriarty and Laura Erickson, Democratic members of the BET Budget Committee