Colchester CT -- Big spenders on the town and school side simply refused to hear the Vote No 2:1 mandate by taxpayers May 8th to not increase the mil rate by 3-4 points. Town officials put forth less than $675,000 in reductions of their big spending plan of over $51 million this week when they met at a Special Meetings of the Board of Finance on three consecutive nights May 14-16th.
Proposed reductions in the planned increased spending would be little more than a half mil reduction from what they are requesting taxpayers to support and pay, a near 4 mil increase that would still bring the mil rate to over 29 and nearing 30. That is $29 for every $1000 taxed in town or 2.9%. "It is too much, especially when compounded annually," contend the majority of those who voted.
"It is weird," said Democrat Tearice Peters about the reluctance of the Boards of Finance and Education to listen to the voters' mandate and reduce spending.
"Officials will just have to listen because we cannot afford such a big tax hike and mil increase," said Joyce Maine. Maine also questioned the nonsensical reduction of $3000 from the food bank coordinator, which she sees as an emotional hot button cut made for effect from a $51 million budget.
The town has been through the planned budget "cuts" year after year which are not cuts at all but slight reductions in proposed increases in spending.
Although some have accused the Republican First Selectman for not stopping the huge mil rate increase, it is Democrat appointed department heads from the school side to the town side that have put forth the budgets. Schuster unliuke other First Selectmen, did not force departments to make cuts. Nancy Bray, a Democrat elected as Town Clerk, simply refused to cut any of her staff. She said it was "political."
The Colcehster CT townspeople are now aware that the same old line items are put up to get constituents to say "oh no don't cut THAT," such as Project Oceanography on the school side or the library staff expenses.
Little is said of the millions spent on salaries and raises year after year that are unsustainable in a town with declining enrolments. Staff in town hall has steadily increased in the last 20 years.
Department heads are usually professionals with advanced degrees who demand higher wages. Some believe there is no need for some many layers of administrators in the building, P&Z, schools, recreation, and finance departments. Even if they are shared between the town and schools, they each demand closeto $100,000 when benefits and overhead is counted.
Others said that they want to hire even more professional staff and that is the cause of the annual increases.
This is the personal opinion of the author.