RTM Republicans’ decisions are the definition of fiscal irresponsibility

To the Editor:

Republican Representative Town Meeting (RTM) members recently congratulated themselves with their success in delivering a 1.45% budget increase to Fairfielders. Several noted that they achieved this rate without having to further reduce the library or the education budgets.

However, their comments and actions are disingenuous at best. Because Republicans cut over $800,000 from a contingency account of $1.2 million set aside to cover the potential State budget shortfalls, it is almost guaranteed that no portion of the library material budget will be restored this year. The vote also eliminates the town’s ability to restore dollars to the underfunded paving budget.

The smart decision for the long-term fiscal health of our town was to approve the budget as passed by our Board of Finance (BOF).  Rather than pass a fiscally responsible budget with a low tax increase of 1.81%, the RTM Republicans ignored the warnings of both RTM Democrats and BOF Republicans and implemented cuts. The net result ensures that our residents will begin to receive diminished services in the coming years. In addition, Republican RTM members’ short-sightedness now sets us up for larger tax increases in the future to cover costs and services that the town will be unable to fund this year.

The RTM Republicans also demonstrated their disdain for transparency and collaboration when they decided to cut thinly-staffed departments without consulting the relevant department heads. One of the positions cut was in the Tax Collector’s office and, according to the Tax Collector, this action will severely limit the department’s ability to collect taxes. The Chief of Staff position in the First Selectman’s office also was cut from full to part time. Given that the Chief of Staff provides critical constituent services and helps our departments run as efficiently as possible, we are likely to see a decline in overall responsiveness to residents’ needs.

The RTM Republicans’ decisions are the definition of fiscal irresponsibility and kicking the can down the road. Remember this when the town has to further cut library, paving, or other town services, or send you a supplemental tax bill.

Phil Pires (D)

RTM Minority Leader

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