Saving Finance Board Makes Economic Dollars And Cents

Published: Oct 14, 2022 04:20 AM

To the Editor:

I support preserving the Board of Finance. Vote NO on the Town Referendum question to Dissolve the Board of Finance.

I support voting YES on the other general Town Referendum question Charter Review Commission recommendations. They substantially involve language and procedural clarity. Significant in that it involves correction of the Emergency and Special Appropriations consolidation funding that became problematic in our last storm emergency.

For 14 years I served on the Board of Finance as either Chair or Vice-Chairperson. For four years during our most difficult time, I served as a Selectman. I served on the most recent Charter Review Commission.

The Board of Finance I sat on worked extremely well, challenging the budgets of the Town and Board of Education, perfected the Capital Improvement Plans of both, balanced the Education and Town needs and plans, and created Finance policies. Bonding companies praised our fiscal structures and policies and [S&P Global, formerly Standard & Poor’s] awarded Newtown with the top AAA Bond Rating.

The questions:

1) do you think the absence of such fiscal scrutiny by persons dedicated to Town Finance will raise or lower your taxes;

2) do you think it is less fiscally political that BoF members are elected town-wide or by Legislative Council per district constituency;

3) where all BoF members are nominated by their parties by financial expertise, do we want financial expertise to be just an also-ran for LC politicians that are involved in multiple town policies, plans, ordinances, etc (We had this previous plan … very view LC members had financial expertise, the town finance was left to less than a handful of LC members); and

4) do we risk losing our top bonding ratings that save us millions of dollars per year.

The purpose of the BoF is to do the heavy financial lifting research, review and policy recommendations. This transpired for nearly two decades. Unfortunately, there was one LC that shelved the hard work of the BoF. That was not the norm.

The Charter Review Commission had no consensus as to the BoF. Given the request that a recommendation be made, it went down to a three ballot vote: should the BoF be appointed — rejected; should the BoF be elected without authority except upon request — rejected; should the BoF be preserved with tweaks — rejected. The remaining vote was to dissolve the BoF.

The BoF should be maintained because it has saved taxpayers millions of dollars as well as has supported smart Board of Education budgets. It forced hard decisions on the Town and Board of Education.

Hope this helps.

Vote No to Dissolve the Board of Finance.

Vote Yes to Support the Other Charter Review Commission recommendations.

Thank you,

Jim Gaston


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