Shortsighted decision

Fairfield’s Representative Town Meeting approved the 2019-2020 budget at its meeting on May 6 and reduced the tax increase to our residents for the upcoming fiscal year to 1.71%, down from the Board of Finance’s proposed increase of 1.9%.

While the Democratic majority emphatically supported a request to reverse the Board of Finance’s shortsighted decision to cut $700,000 from the paving budget, no Republican RTM members supported restoring the $700,000, and as a result, the motion failed. We are disappointed that these badly needed funds were not restored to the paving budget, as Fairfield’s award-winning paving program has been cut several times in recent years while our paving needs have only increased with more and more utility work tearing up our streets. Fortunately, the Department of Public Works does an excellent job and will adapt to the lower figure, even if it means postponing some needed paving work.

The Board of Finance had also added $500,000 to the “Contingency” account in the budget. This account is a slush fund that is available for use at the sole option of the BOF, if it chooses to use the money, for whatever needs come up during the year. While the BOF had expressed an intention to use the $500,000 for paving, there is no guaranty that it would have been used for this purpose, or that it would have been used at all. The RTM majority could not justify taxing Fairfield residents for this extra $500,000 that had no clear, restricted purpose. For this reason, we voted to remove the $500,000 from the Contingency. If the intention was to use those funds for paving, we are baffled as to why that was not kept in the budget for that purpose.

We want to thank First Selectman Mike Tetreau for his leadership in developing the budget and shepherding it through the various town bodies. Through his leadership, First Selectman Tetreau has maintained our town’s strong fiscal foundation, preserved our vital town services and ensured that Fairfield will remain an affordable and desirable place to live, work, and raise a family.

Karen Wackerman

Fairfield RTM Majority Leader and District 7 Representative

Trash talk or just rubbish?

Whatever happened to those TV ads of decades ago chastising litter bugs and encouraging us to keep America clean? I vividly recall the one with a Native American Indian standing on the side of road looking in disgust as someone throws trash at his feet from a passing car.

When was the last time you saw a State or Town “Do not Litter” sign? I vividly remember signs with threats of $250 fines but that was probably1980’s, so maybe $400 is more appropriate today.

As we now see more and more alarming global threats of plastic piles in the Pacific Ocean the size of Texas and waste in the most remote isolated parts of our planet. But I wanted to raise a far smaller local problem as its sometime best to start small and try to take care of things in your own back yard.

As I am sure I am not the only Fairfielder who loves to take long picturesque walks throughout many parts of our town, I continue to be appalled and disturbed by the amount trash and waste strewn along the roadside. So much so, I have trouble taking walks without being consumed looking out for each empty can, bottle, Styrofoam cup, and the other myriad of waste throughout my walks. I have started monthly trash pick-ups along local roadways as I usually fill a large size trash bag within a few hundred yards. And after doing so, I tend to keep an eye out to see how fast the waste returns. The collection include the typical beer cans and booze bottles but also dominated by some other items, including a variety of breakfast items and a predominance of plastic bottles filled with chewing tobacco spit. I will reserve comments as to the likely culprits.

We have had guests from out of town join us for walks and offer unsolicited comments about the trash along the Fairfield roads. I hate to turn a blind eye and think we can’t do something about a very manageable eyesore and environmental dilemma closest to home.

So I welcome others to chime in and wish for a cleaner and prouder town to live in. Maybe we should start a celebratory “clean up Fairfield Day” as a ritual town wide effort the first Saturday of May, even though one day a year is unlikely to address the problem. I would welcome the return of “Do Not Litter” signs on our roadways, and if our town officials wanted to introduce fines for offenders to consider as another source of badly needed town revenue, I would be happy to endorse. And hopefully with a few of these awareness raising activities, the message would spread. For all we know, we could become the example for other towns. We might even start our own social media “ice bucket dunk” rage leading to a broader national waste clean-up but in reality, I would first hope to enjoy a beautiful peaceful and trash free walk along our bucolic roads. So I would say enough of this rubbish and let’s celebrate together the beauty our town and planet deserves.

Doug Carey