Questions the kind of town Fairfield residents want to have

To the Editor:

When the budget was first released, the collective gasp could be heard across Fairfield — a 6.4% increase? Even I was surprised.

The tea partiers masquerading under the Fairfield Taxpayer Association banded together and fired a volley of raging emails. Interestingly, these came primarily from the more affluent parts of town — Southport and Greenfield Hill — and included threats to oust me in November should I support any increase. Threats tend to anger me, but I tried to sympathize with the overburdened taxpayer. After all, this proposed increase hits my household, too.

Each email received was read and I directly answered emails from my district. Most of them ranted — few understood the process while at the same time some offered suggestions — and to their defense, they didn’t care what the reasons were, they just saw the bottom line. As we were warned months ago, one big economic driver is healthcare costs — we offer “Cadillac” plans on a “Kia” budget. Until that stops, we will continue to see large increases each year. Most agreed and some even thanked me for responding.

Then the counterattack emails came from irate parents demanding the education budget be left alone. Reducing town services and town staff, removing teachers and cutting programs will not take the tens of millions of dollars out to reduce the budget — that comes from reducing escalating drivers. Now my inbox is filling with pleas to save the funding for Pequot Library.

Some relief followed with the well-timed press release by Mr. Tetreau and Mr. Flynn stating health care costs were going to be reduced and that the proposed budget was down to a 4.8% increase. Cooler heads prevailed and the town was working collectively towards change, but it would take some time. I, like many others, understood that.

This week the Bard of Selectmen voted on the budget, followed by the Board of Finance vote and suddenly everything was on the chopping block, including the Pequot Library.

To put this in perspective, this library is privately owned and two-thirds of its funding comes from successful fund-raising, one-third from taxpayer dollars to the tune of $350,000. It’s also located in affluent Southport. Remember them? They wanted 0% increase in the budget, but not at the expense of Pequot Library — oops! Chopped! This after the BOF chopped $1.25 million from the Board of Education budget just shortly before.

What sort of town do we want to be? Town services such as the libraries have been cut for the third year in a row and we’ve cut down on paving. Do we want to be Austerity Town, to keep up with the others, towns that have tapped into their contingency fund to keep taxes low (let’s hope they don’t get hit with five more FEMA-rated storms in the next two years)? Or, do we want to be Fairfield, a town known to prioritize spending by investing in infrastructure, education, the arts, and yes, a “rainy day fund?”


Heather Dean                                                                                                                                                                                                                 RTM D-4

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