Board of Ed must look harder to reduce costs

To the Editor:

This year’s Fairfield Budget Recommendation may help ensure fiscally strong town finances, but the potential for increased property taxes will drag against private investment and growth.

A painful potential 4.48% mill rate increase. Business and residential property owners will take another sharp hit. Taxes go up, and push property values down.

All comparative measures rank Connecticut practically last in state budget tax and spend management. Massachusetts is growing and continues to creatively find ways to reduce its citizens’ tax burdens. Unfortunately, our town is being forced to account for the state’s continuing fiscal mismanagement.

The most egregious aspect of the town budget is education–related funding. This year why not have the board of education budget reduced compared to last year? With the looming teacher pension costs transfer, town property taxpayers would have to foot the bill for teacher retirees? A few years ago, the teacher’s union was able to obtain a partial retirement pay exemption from CT income taxes, with 50% exempt for 2017 and on. This is a terrific recognition for teachers. They work hard.

That being said, a whole bunch of private sector folks have worked very hard, but get no pension-related tax exemptions from the state. Now, property owners will have to pay for retired teachers who are given partially tax free income? Crazy!

Just like so many CT private citizens increasingly forced to adjust to lessened spending ability, the Board of Education should look much harder to reduce their costs to offset this cost transfer. Plus, why not take a look at a usage based model? Specifically: those who utilize the school related services should pay more than those who do not. It is unfortunate to be forced to fork out more money for schools and also their teacher (partially tax free) pensions in this tough economic environment.

Pat MacMonagle

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