Letter to the editor from Jeff Ramer who has served for the past 12 years as a Democratic member of the Greenwich Board of Estimate and Taxation and for the past eight years on its Budget Committee
Ah, the political season is upon us.
I read with mild amusement the recent OpEd of Mr. Marc Johnson. He identifies himself as “a former member of the Greenwich Board of Estimate and Taxation … and a past chair of the BET Budget Committee”. It might have been appropriate for Mr. Johnson to also point out that he served as a Republican representative on that Board, and that he is offering his partisan comment in his role as a Republican, kicking off the campaign season.
Precisely because the very excellent Jill Oberlander has stepped forward as the Democratic candidate for First Selectwoman and because Ms. Oberlander has served for the past two years as the Democratic Chair of the Board of Estimate and Taxation, it warrants reply when Mr. Johnson concludes his OpEd piece with a baseless crack about “chaos brought on by Democrat leaders”, mentioning Ms. Oberlander by name, and commenting that his vote will be for “Greenwich Republicans”.
Let’s look at the Record: In the two years that the Board of Estimate has been controlled by the Democrats and under the Chairwomanship of Ms. Oberlander, the taxes have risen on average 1.49 percent. In the first year, they went up by zero. The Town had not seen a zero increase in twenty five years. For comparison, in the preceding ten years under Republican control, taxes increased on average 2.86 percent, nearly twice the rate under the Democrats. For the four years that Mr. Johnson served on the Board and for the two years that he served as Budget Committee chair, taxes went up by 2.75 percent.
In the first year of Ms. Oberlander’s chairwomanship and the first year of Democrat control of the BET, the year in which taxes went up by zero, at least one Republican, upset with the outcome, voted against approving the zero increase Budget altogether.
In the second year, the Democrats asserted their control at the BET to beat back an initiative by the Republicans to impose a higher tax rate upon the Town taxpayers. You should know that the votes cast were along strict Party lines, and the low tax rate was preserved by the tie breaking vote of Ms. Oberlander in her capacity as Chair.
Mr. Johnson entitled his piece, “Greenwich Democrats in disarray”. Wishful thinking. Ms. Oberlander’s nomination for First Selectwoman was by a rousing unanimous vote at the Town Committee. The event was open to the Public, and was attended also by prominent Republicans, including one former Republican chair of the BET. Ms. Oberlander is a centrist candidate who has stood firmly behind the fiscal prudence of this wonderful Town.
Mr. Johnson comments where he intends to cast his vote. I am equally clear where I intend to cast mine.