The foremost issue on most voters’ minds is the financial condition of New Canaan. Property owners feel the pinch of persistent tax increases in the face of lowered property values. With a nod to zero-based budgeting, let’s start by looking at our budgets item by item.

In our current system, department managers defend their proposed percentage increases, rather than their proposed overall budgets. Let’s go back to the beginning and look at every item that comprises those budgets.

However, the difficulties in obtaining money for legitimate needs, mid-budget cycle, is so forbidding that department managers must plan over-generously in order to protect against shortfalls. Let’s make mid-year requests less unfriendly and more streamlined. Let’s help budget managers to develop budgets that mirror actual current needs.

Next, let’s get down to the business of eliminating the duplication of services between our Board of Education and our Town government, and let’s do it in a way that doesn’t make our educators feel threatened. Do we really need two finance departments? Can they be combined in a way that is fair to both? I think so.

Let’s increase our grant writing. Let’s look at increasing our user fees. And let’s start requiring maintenance endowments on future private / public partnerships. Too often what seems like a generous gift can, over time, become an albatross of expenses.

Let’s do what it takes to let our residents know that the town is spending tax dollars wisely and frugally and that any increase is truly justified and unavoidable.

View at the New Canaan Advertiser.

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