Letter: Cuts At Any Cost, Fairfield RTM Member Says

  • Comments (13)

FAIRFIELD, Conn. -- The Fairfield Daily Voice accepts signed letters to the editor. Send letters to fairfield@dailyvoice.com.

Dear Editor:

When the Republican super-majority of the RTM reduced Fairfield's budget for schools, the public library, school nurse's aides, road repairs, and other budgets, they did so without any accompanying rationale or explanation.

The reductions were simply cuts made for the sake of cutting, with the goal of reducing our tax increase for next year.

That's a worthy goal, but blindly cutting as a way to reach an arbitrary number is an irresponsible way to get there. The cuts they voted through will harm our town services, desirability, and reputation—and in some cases, will actually add more long-term costs than they save in the short term—all to produce $42 a year in tax savings for the average home in Fairfield.

Who – and what – did the Republicans on the RTM really represent during the budget discussions? Not the majority of Fairfielders. The record number/landslide of emails the RTM received and public comments we heard called for leaving the budget whole. And the Democrat-majority Board of Selectmen and Republican-majority Board of Finance had approved this budget, so it truly was a bipartisan financial plan.

But the voices of the townspeople and elected officials from both parties fell on deaf ears.

The RTM Republican super-majority did not even share its planned reductions with the public until the actual budget vote, which continued until after 3 am, denying Fairfielders an opportunity to digest, prepare for or comment on the proposals.

Even still, hundreds of residents came out, and more than six out of seven who spoke called for keeping the education, library, and other budgets whole. Again, their comments fell on deaf ears, as the majority of Republicans voted for every cut.

RTM Republicans’ $125,000 reduction in the contingency money earmarked for conducting a more thorough State-mandated property revaluation than in previous years was shockingly shortsighted.

The very same Republican RTM members from Southport and the beach area, who ardently protested the last revaluation process, now slashed the funds that the Board of Finance set aside to allow a more thorough process this time.

The Board of Education and Library Trustees will once again trim their services for the least possible impact. But compounded on similar slash and burn cuts year after year, the RTM Republican majority’s decisions are beginning to harm Fairfield. Cuts upon cuts means our town gets weaker and less attractive, affecting every resident's life and even potentially our property values. All for $42 a year.

I urge all Fairfielders to hold your RTM representatives accountable for their votes.

Sheila Marmion

RTM, D6

  • 13
    Comments

Comments (13)

Not that it's any of your business but I've been a taxpaying resident of Fairfield for twelve years but that doesn't really matter. If you struck any nerve, it should be the nerve of all Fairfield residents whether they be a resident for 1 day or 100 years. We all have a stake in the future of this town. There is no privilege for seniority.

I agree with you, msudie. We are all in equal circumstances and have equal rights to be heard. We should dialogue on a friendly, respectful basis.

I do think that our seniors deserve to be taken care of. Many have lived in Fairfield for decades and have contributed a great deal to the town. They deserve the same budget considerations we give school children. This year's budget did not include a director for our senior center. It was not eliminated by the Republicans. Our First Selectman campaigned on the issue of helping seniors, but he has failed them here - and not for the first time.

"msudie:" The recent list of the fourteen towns in our state attracting the most new home buyers does not include a _single_ Fairfield County town. The idea that only schools uphold property values and people only move to Fairfield for schools is a myth. The median home ownership in Fairfield is sixteen years. What makes town attractive is inviting neighborhoods, a balance of good services, affordable homes, and reasonable taxes.

Why does it matter how long the author has been a resident? Do her taxes carry different weight with seniority?

The short-sited thinking of many RTM members is what will cause further tax increases. First and foremost, because our property values will not appreciate as much as those in other Fairfield County towns--those that place education as a top priority. Second, delays infrastructure improvement will cost more in the end. Imagine a school boiler stops working and an immediate repair/replacement is needed. There's a cost for emergency repairs that could be avoided.

Finally, regardless of where in town certain RTM members live, it's time to serve the best interests of the residents and not just themselves.

My husband and I were taught to always live within our means and in turn are teaching our children the same. Sometimes you wish you could live in the more expensive house or drive the more expensive car or eat out more often, but your bank account doesn't allow for it. However, that doesn't mean that people shouldn't live in those houses or drive those cars or eat in those restaurants. If you can't afford to live in this town than you should find a town more suitable to your budget. And allow the rest of us to have the services and education we deserve and can afford.

Whoa, there! Did you reread what you wrote before you posted it?

Town needs to be run better as the tax increases over past few years have been way to high...

Ms. Marmion's letter perpetuates distortions of the Town budget process and attempts to create a sense of divisiveness by incorrectly associating budget cuts with only two RTM districts. Votes to reduce the budget increase (not cut the budget) came from RTM districts across Town and included one Democrat. Some Republicans did not support the reductions. Why does Ms. Marmion choose to focus on “Southport and the beach area”? She merely foments unfair stereotyping that pits one area of Town against another.

She also fails to acknowledge that the Town Charter places ultimate budget responsibility in the hands of RTM members not Town boards. RTM members are the voices of Fairfield neighborhoods, the sources of tax dollars that fund Fairfield. It is the genius of our form of government that representatives closest to taxpayers have final say on the budget. Why does that process seem to bring discomfort to Ms. Marmion?

Ms. Marmion also decries late night voting, but most Democrats on the RTM voted to suspend the rules and allow the meeting to continue into the night. She also fails to acknowledge that beginning the session at 8 PM makes attendance by seniors problematic, thus depriving many of them of a voice in the process.

Ms. Marmion is correct that most people who spoke out about the Eduction budget did not support reducing the increase to three per cent. They had their say, as is their right, and RTM members seemed attentive to them. It is clear, though, that the speakers do not represent the majority of Fairfield residents, and RTM members were correct in not being swayed by a small very vocal group.

Ms. Marmion ends her letter with an exhortation to voters to “hold RTM members accountable for their votes.” I would remind her of the words of the English statesman Edmund Burke’s response to demagoguery: “Your representative owes you, not his industry only, but his judgment; and he betrays, instead of serving you, if he sacrifices it to your opinion.”

"RTM members were correct in not being swayed by a small very vocal group." Are you kidding? Why did I personally see new members of the RTM majority caucus introduced to the founder of Fairfield Taxpayer to kiss his ring? Ms. Marimon notes that the RTM majority is led by those in District 1 (Southport) because they always seem to drive the agenda. It seems that every RTM meeting I've been to, we always need to make time for District 1 whining about assessments that happened years ago.

Shelia
They REPRESENTED ME AND OTHERS LIJE ME-------ACCOUNTABILITY is the key !!!!!
And just how long have you lived here???? AND HOW LONG DO YOU INTEND TO STAY???
Have a Great Day(and Continue to Pay and Pay !!!)

Jim, I plan on living here for a long time, unlike others who plan on "getting out" when they can. And what kind of accountability is there when the vote is at 3:00 in the morning?

I am curious as to how long the author of the letter has lived in Fairfield.