Letters to the Editor
Published 5:30 pm, Wednesday, March 23, 2011
Where's the transparency
To the Editor:
Town Council chairman Mark DeWaele has added his imprimatur to the Town's efforts to prosper the work and budget of the Long Range Planning Committee through Town bodies with little regard for correct process or public input. The public is confused and angry about both the need for a LRPC -- and how and when they can address the Town Council.
Over the past three weeks, the Town Council published on March 3 a public notice advertising a 7:30 p.m. March 16 meeting to consider the LRPC's request for a special appropriation of $175,000 for Phase II of its work; cancelled it without notice; and on March 14 re-scheduled it for an approximate start time of 10 p.m.
More InformationFact box
On March 15, Dr. DeWaele emailed Town Council members, "Based upon the `lengthy' issues being addressed at our meeting tomorrow night, I have decided to alter our agenda. I have asked [Town Clerk] Claudia [Weber] to postpone the last item on our agenda, the Long Range Planning Committee presentation, until a subsequent meeting ... . Starting such an important presentation at or near 10 p.m. is not fair to the Council, the presenters or the public ... ." Sounds reasonable except the Town Council instead invited Board of Finance members Neil Budnik and Charles Van Vleet to discuss how bonding happens in New Canaan. I understand their presentation was outstanding. Seems to me the rationale behind the "postpone and invite someone else" shenanigans was to prevent the South Main Street referendum question and a possible LRPC referendum question from coinciding on the same referendum day. Such a cynical move is not worthy of New Canaan.
Keep reading, friends and neighbors. On Monday, March 21, giving only two days notice, the Town Council scheduled LRPC to give its presentation this Wednesday at 8:30 p.m. The Town Council, however, cannot vote that day because Section C4-10 of the New Canaan Town Charter does not allow a Town Council vote on appropriations without its giving two successive weeks' published, public notice.
New Canaanites who get their news from reading the print versions of the local papers will not know that the LRPC presentation is being given this Wednesday. Consequently, I believe it is imperative that the Town Council open for public comment the $175,000 special appropriation on the evening it votes, whenever that is. This will be the first time many citizens will have the opportunity to tell the Council what they think of the LRPC and its budget. They deserve time to think, prepare and schedule.
Drowning in Debt
To the Editor:
How many of us are aware that New Canaan's total borrowings are in excess of $131 million and that the annual "debt servicing" (payment of interest and repayment of bond principal) is approximately $13 million?
For the current fiscal year to end June 30, 2011, New Canaan's total budgeted expenses are approximately $119 million. For the next fiscal year starting July 1, New Canaan's total budget is approximately $121.7 million. Yes, that's a lot of zeroes in the millions and your eyes are not playing tricks on your brain.
According to the latest census, New Canaan's population is approximately 19,700 persons and the adult population is approximately 13,400. If we estimate that the total working/income-earning/tax-paying population is approximately 8,000 adults, then that means a per capita debt load of $16,375. How did we end up in this quagmire? One of the serious social diseases to hit America are the extremely high debt loads of the federal, state and municipal governments as well as millions of households and individuals who have drowned and are still drowning in all types of debt. History has shown that any government -- national, state or local -- are experts at going into debt and then taxing us all by whatever means they can think of.
We must demand an end to all this excessive borrowing and insist on absolute fiscal prudence and an end to all the wasteful spending in New Canaan. As voters, residents and taxpayers, you have the absolute right to call or write to your elected and appointed New Canaan governing bodies to convey your concerns and demand that they take action.
Sidewalk opposition refuses to come clean
To the Editor:
As a general proponent of sidewalks, I am trying to understand why the opposition leaders of the Main Street sidewalk project have now adopted the misnomer Citizens for Responsible Spending (CRS) to broadcast their cause. The tiny but vocal group over the last two years has continued to tailor their argument against the Main Street sidewalk project to whichever concern of the day that will pique the interest of the broader populace.
As CRS' spending argument to block a $400,000 project began to fizzle, a project which, by the way, many residents agree would enhance the community on multiple dimensions, CRS has now jeopardized, through their referendum request, a $4 million bond issuance that has massive community investment implications. This strategic action has given life to the spending restraint group in town which now have hitched themselves to this effort (or any effort) to reduce spending. CRS has solicited its involvement to support its cause which on the surface may look like spending concerns but has much more to do with a self-serving effort to prohibit a sidewalk from being installed adjacent to their property.
Question -- where was the CRS during other, more significant community spends? It's shocking that this immaterial investment amount ($400k), which will bring benefits to so many, has caused so much outcry when put in contrast to the town's $120 million annual budget. I am sure it's not the pure coincidence that those championing the CRS have properties bordering Main Street.
Lastly, for those who claim that the town's financials are in disarray, New Canaan has the third lowest mill rate in Fairfield County and many could argue the most desirable downtown and most far-reaching community benefits in the entire state. The vast majority of residents want to see the town move forward and have its government continue to enhance the quality of life of its people. If it's not for you, there are plenty of "less resourced" towns for your choosing. I urge all residents to think carefully before signing any petition and to fully understand the motives of those behind the effort.
Team New Canaan
Whittingham Cancer Center Walk and Sally's Run Team New Canaan would like to thank our community sponsors, sales representatives and guests for their support of a very successful Ladies Night Out fundraiser held last week. Francos Wine Merchants, Cherry Street East Cafe, Amy Lynn-Cakes on Demand, Inklings of New Canaan, Jenny Esposito, Judi Panzano-Silpada Jewelry, Mary Ann Kleinschmitt-Mary Kay Cosmetics, Jeffrey M. Pivor, D.D.S., Cindy Santucci-Dove Chocolate Discoveries and some 30 guests helped raise funds to support the cancer center.
To learn more about the May 14 walk/run event, visit www.norwalkhopital.org/ and click on Whittingham Cancer Center Walk and Sally's Run. We hope you will consider supporting the cancer center through walking or donating to Team New Canaan.
Team New Canaan Co-captains
Money should go
to roads, not sidewalks
To the Editor:
New Canaan Citizens for Responsible Spending is a group of concerned citizens from all over Town who want the Town to spend road money exclusively on fixing our roads.
We are currently collecting signatures to call for a referendum to repeal the $4 million road bond in its current form, which allows funds to be diverted from fixing roads to other, new infrastructure projects and send it back to the Board of Finance for reconsideration.
The purpose of the $4 million bond requested by the Department of Public Works was to complete milling and paving projects in 2011 and 2012 on the Town's roads that are in the worst condition.
In fact, the current road bond will permit some $600,000 of that $4 million to be used to build a new sidewalk on one side of Main Street, from Oak Street to Farm Road (estimated at $400,000) and another sidewalk along part of Old Norwalk Road (estimated at $200,000). That is at least $600,000 to build new sidewalks instead of fixing our roads.
If you believe, as we do, that the Town's roads need help and that we should not be diverting any of the bond's funds to capital projects that are nice but not necessary, we invite you to join us in calling for a referendum. Contact information is firstname.lastname@example.org if you want to sign the petition; and www.ncresponsiblespending.com for further information about this effort.
Eloise H.P. Killeffer, Treasurer
New Canaan Citizens for
Sidewalk to somewhere
To the Editor:
An extension of the Main Street sidewalk from Oak Street to Farm Road is highly warranted as it should be a sidewalk that enables us to pay our respects to our fellow citizens who are buried in the Lakeview Cemetery. Of equal significance, it is a final resting place for New Canaan residents, who gave their lives in defense of democracy.
Shouldn't everyone be bothered by the fact that the only primary road into downtown New Canaan that does not have a sidewalk along the entirety of its route is also situated next to the primary entry point to our town's main cemetery for its veterans?
As a U.S. Marine Corps officer, who served for eight years, it infuriates me to think that some of our citizens conveniently ignore this inescapable reality about the Lakeview Cemetery. The fiscal commitment that our town will incur to extend our sidewalks to the veteran's cemetery is a small price to pay for the ultimate price that they paid for us. It would be a tremendous improvement to conduct our annual Memorial Day parade without asking our veterans to risk their lives again while walking back into town after the graveside service has concluded.
We have respectfully listened to the dissenting concerns about fiscal irresponsibility, insufficient spacing for emergency vehicles, etc, but enough is enough! Each of these points has been found to be incorrect. Yes, their minority opinion must be acknowledged as it is a true demonstration of the democratic values that our fallen heroes have allowed them to exercise. However, the selfish and misguided voices of a few must be ignored for the direct benefit of the local community and its deceased military personnel.
Please do not sign the petition. Show respect for our brave residents, who died defending America and our beloved town of New Canaan, by supporting the extension of the Main Street sidewalks.
Boyd E. Harden