In 2013, our Democratic first selectman proposed a budget that would have required at a 6.4 percent tax increase. Some Democrats, in an attempt to move away from this fact, are claiming that the first selectman's budget proposal was just an "estimate."
The first selectman's job is to build a budget and present it to the town's boards for consideration. The budget he put forward after months of meetings and preparation had a 6.4 percent increase. The first selectman thought his budget was a reasonable proposition until he released it publicly.
Republican leaders immediately sent the message to the first selectman that his budget had no Republican support. With pressure from Republican leaders and bipartisan efforts on the Board of Finance and Board of Selectmen, the budget was reduced by over 4 percent.
This would not have been accomplished if the Republicans did not hold the majority on the Board of Finance and RTM. In order to keep the pressure on our first selectman to control spending versus just increasing the budget at the current rate of $7 million to $10 million per year, we must retain our system of checks and balances.
False claims on schools: Recently, the Democratic town chairman wrote a letter stating that RTM Republicans "blindly" slashed $2 million from the education budget in 2013. Although he later retracted his statement, the retraction received very little media attention.
To set the record straight, the Board of Finance in a bipartisan effort voted unanimously to reduce the education increase by $1.2 million. When the budget reached the RTM, Republicans there were informed that the number of projected retirements were greater than anticipated and that health care costs had been over estimated. As a result, RTM Republicans reduced the budget increase by another $500,000.
The RTM Democrats voted against this well-justified reduction. Both reductions in the education budget increase were done after a great deal of research and debate.
The Democratic Town Committee also has launched a campaign encouraging people to vote Democratic in order to "save our schools."
Once again, to set the record straight, there are no proposals or propositions currently on the table that would adversely affect our schools. The implication that our schools need to be saved is an insult to all of the dedicated teachers and parent volunteers who work hard in and outside the classroom to educate our children and make sure they have a safe learning environment.
Moving forward, we owe it to all Fairfield taxpayers to run our town in the most efficient and effective manner possible.
As Republicans, we have been consistently calling for budget reform and have proposed that we switch from a carry-over budget system to a zero-based approach. Unfortunately, current Democratic administration has not supported it.
RTM with GOP majority: On the RTM, the Republicans have completely revamped the manner in which they analyze the budget. Since taking over the RTM majority in 2009, Republicans have thoughtfully proposed, debated and passed more than $4 million in reductions, while RTM Democrats have neither proposed nor passed any reductions and opposed nearly every reduction presented by the Republicans.
Over the next couple of years, our elected officials will be called on to make critical decisions which will affect our town's long-term fiscal health. The most critical decisions will deal with labor contracts, and there is a clear divide between RTM Republicans and Democrats on this issue. RTM Republicans firmly believe that we must shift newly hired employees from a defined-benefit pension program to a defined-contribution plan. The bottom line is that the pension program is unsustainable in the long run. Although there are short term cost increases in the defined contribution plan, the long-term gains are well worth it. To be perfectly clear, Republicans will not take pensions away from current employees. The employees who were hired and promised a pension will keep their pensions.
School savings, senior aid: In regard to education, the Republicans will continue to strive to find savings and efficiencies in the education budget. Many Republicans believe that great cost saving can be found by shifting control of the maintenance of school buildings and grounds over to the town, thereby allowing the town to control those costs.
In regard to senior citizens, Republicans will continue to support and expand the senior tax relief program. Our seniors have paid their fair share of taxes over the years. It is vitally important that we do all we can to keep our seniors in their homes and keep them in our community.
After 14 years of continuous tax increases totaling $140 million and currently increasing at a rate of $7 million to 10 million per year, we owe it to the taxpayers of Fairfield to find a better and more efficient way to run our government.
If you want a zoning board that will continue to protect the character of our community, if you support a system of checks and balances, if you want to a team that will seek out and eliminate wasteful spending and if you want to send a message that a 6.4 percent tax increase is unacceptable, vote Republican on Nov. 5.