Kate Daniello and Bob Forcellina are the co-founders of We the People of Fairfield, a taxpayer advocacy group. They submitted this letter to the editor regarding the recent budget votes by Fairfields Board of Selectmen and Board of Finance.
The Board of Selectmen decreased the education budget by $2.0 million. The Board of Finance heard the message loud and clear from many town residents at their public meeting but refrained from cutting even $1 from the budget. Why, you might be wondering? Well, as far as We the People (WTP) can tell, the Board of Finance feels its greater responsibility is to safeguard the towns AAA bond rating, which was called into question when the Board of Education reduced the Internal Service Fund by $3,500,000! Raiding this fund in this way is an outrage. WTP is calling for the town boards to do something.
Last May, when the Board of Education skillfully executed this tactic and used $1.6 million in excess funds from the Internal Reserve Fund to cure the cut to their budget, neither Ken Flatto nor Paul Hiller seemed concerned. Then in February, the Board of Education took another $1.9 million out of this fund, and a heightened number of claims came in further reducing the fund. Not surprisingly, this caused one of the bond rating agencies to question the lowered balance in the Internal Service Fund account. Then all hell broke loose, and the Board of Finance has been scrambling, ever since, for ways to get the Board of Education to replenish this fund.
WTPs position on this is very clear.
1) The Board of Finance, or now the Representative Town Meeting, should reduce the Board of Education budget by the $1.9 million the Board of Education took and replenish the Internal Service Fund, thereby preserving the towns bond rating. This move would force the Board of Education to go back and amend its expenses in this years budget, which it should have done both last year and this year.
2) The town needs to contribute to the Internal Service Fund to the extent of its claims experience, which it has not done.
3) Given the sensitivity of this fund and its susceptibility to claims that cannot be predetermined, there should be a policy in place that the town and Board of Education cannot raid this fund to cure reductions to its budget.
Kate Daniello and Bob Forcellina
We the People of Fairfield
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