Leadership is about making tough decisions

To the Editor:

The RTM Republican Majority took decisive action at its annual budget meeting to lower the projected tax increase for the coming fiscal year from 1.81% to 1.45% while fully funding our schools, public safety and libraries. Since the budget process began in January, the overwhelmingly direction from Fairfield’s citizens has been twofold: Support funding for the classroom while minimizing any tax rate increase. RTM Republicans have been mindful of these two overriding considerations throughout the budget cycle.

RTM Republicans voted to reduce staff levels of administrative elements of Town government. Town managers need to understand that as the cost of services increase at a rate that exceeds the personal resources of many taxpayers, we cannot go about “business as usual.” Department heads will have to do more with less — and when we see opportunities for greater efficiencies through automation or organizational alignment, there needs to be a corresponding reduction of staff size to realize the associated cost savings.

The RTM Republican Majority also voted to hold the Town’s contingency line flat year-over-year on a percentage basis. This was certainly the single biggest point of debate (if not controversy) in this year’s budget meeting. Opinions on how to manage the financial risk, which has been the result of the State’s long-term lack of spending discipline, differed across all three town boards (BOS, BOF and RTM).

While we have great respect for the financial acumen of the members of those other boards, we recognize too that to some extent our priorities may differ at times. We also understand the greater flexibility that a larger contingency line would provide, but we know that this added flexibility comes at a cost to the taxpayer. We believe that the middle course we have chosen, which does not further burden our residents, is the most prudent choice.

Tom McCarthy, Majority Leader

Brian Farnen, Deputy Majority Leader   

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