Town Council Tucker Murphy Q&A
Q: The Town Council was recently taken by surprise regarding the arbitration award from the Lakeview Avenue Bridge litigation. As a Town Council member, what would you do individually to prevent something like that from happening again?
A: As a member of the Town Council I feel it is the responsibility of each individual member to review the minutes of the Board of Selectman and Board of Finance meetings in order to stay apprised of the issues facing each town body respectively. As chair of the Town Council Liaison Subcommittee to the Board of Education it is my duty to be fully informed on the activities of the Board of Education and bring back any pertinent information to council members. Each member also has the opportunity to view the meetings of other boards and commissions on Channel 79 and we should all take advantage of this whenever possible, individually and collectively.
Another recommendation I would support would be when the town is faced with any major legal proceeding that a mandatory joint meeting of the Board of Selectman, Board of Finance, Town Council and the Board of Education, if applicable, be convened at the outset of such litigation and a series of updates be presented as the case progresses. Town officials would then be involved in developing strategies, ongoing management of the case and, ultimately, each official would be informed.
Q: A few months ago, when dealing with road paving and sidewalks, Town Council had a discussion regarding bonding versus budgeting. When do you feel it is appropriate to borrow money and when is it appropriate to place it in the budget?
A: In February of 2011 the Board of Finance assembled a subcommittee to examine the town of New Canaan's debt policies and procedures. One conclusion was that "Debt is a tool for managing generational equity. Long life capital assets and expenditures should be financed with intergenerational debt." Examples of projects that meet this criteria and account for the majority of our current debt load are school renovation projects, the purchase of Irwin Park (by referendum), the current road paving program, town pool, water treatment facility, the EMS and police building renovations, etc. I feel that it is appropriate to issue bonds when the town is considering financing a long-term asset, thus, matching the long-term asset with long-term liability. Each proposed project must be carefully considered by town officials and the taxpayers must have a voice in this process either by public hearings or, in some cases, a referendum.
Items that should not be bonded are those that are part of annual maintenance and therefore should be incorporated into the budget cycle. For example, the "crack and seal" process used by Public Works each year to maintain our roads is an annual expense and therefore should be budgeted for each year.