FAIRFIELD, Conn. -- The Fairfield Daily Voice accepts signed letters to the editor. Send letters to firstname.lastname@example.org.
To The Editor:
The Republican (RTM) majority leader would have Fairfielders falsely believe that the Republican caucus alone is responsible for the fiscal and civic health of our town. While his recent rebuttal to the First Selectman’s State of the Town address is strong on rhetoric, it is short on facts.
Fact: The Town budget process is a continuous, bipartisan effort from the time of the initial budget meetings in October through the final (RTM) vote in early May. As a part of last year’s budget process, the First Selectman began holding bipartisan budget committee meetings with RTM leadership starting in February.
Fact: In 2013 the first selectman and the administration recommended a major portion of the cuts the RTM ultimately made. The budget presented to the RTM for review had a 2.9 percent increase, and had already been reduced prior to Republican caucus seeing it.
Additional cost savings passed by the Board of Selectmen and the Board of Finance were based on evolving numbers for pension costs, retiree medical costs and improved operational adjustments.
Fact: The Senior Tax Relief ordinance passed by last year’s RTM was an effort by a bipartisan committee of the RTM. This committee was responsible for formulating the tax breaks designed to keep seniors in town, not the Republican caucus. Moreover, the First Selectman endorsed and supported this program.
Fact: Republicans could not restore Pequot Library funding on their own. The funding cut was proposed by the Republican vice chair of the BOF. It was the First Selectman who lead the appeal to the RTM to reinstate the funds. Without this appeal there would have been no vote for the RTM to take. The vote to restore funding required a two-thirds vote by the RTM, and could not have passed without the votes of the Democratic caucus.
Fact: Republicans are not responsible for the strong emergency response our town demonstrated during Storm Sandy. Credit for the strong response belongs to our town’s Police, Fire, Emergency Command Center and Department of Public Work professionals. Fact: The Republican caucus has proposed questionable budget cuts. Two years ago Republicans in the RTM proposed a 3 percent, across the board cut in the school district and Town budgets. This cut would have had a major impact on our schools, town services and critical public safety departments, including Police and Fire. Republicans on the RTM then proceeded to cut $850,000 from our town’s contingency fund. Republican BOF Chair Tom Flynn and other BOF members were so disappointed by the Republican caucus they walked out of the meeting in protest.
As the various town bodies continue to analyze the town budget, the First Selectman and his financial team will continue to exercise financial prudence and transparency without sacrificing essential town and school services, or our town’s financial integrity. We hope that moving forward the Republican caucus will work with the Democratic caucus to do the same.
Hal Schwartz, District 7, RTM Minority Leader
Sheila Marmion, District 6, RTM Deputy Minority Leader