Report by Paula Antolini
April 5, 2018 9:15PM EDT
LETTER TO THE EDITOR FROM ROSALY DONOFRIO
Letter to the Editor: Special Interest Politics Will Produce Ever Higher Property and Business Taxes Unless Forgotten Taxpayers ‘Vote NO’
The Bethel Board of Finance’s public hearing on their proposed budget perfectly illustrates why government spending on all levels can only increase.
While a well-organized group of turf field supporters filled the auditorium Bethel’s property and business owners opposed to endless tax hikes were conspicuously absent.
Groups of citizens with special interests like the turf field are the ones who are usually accommodated by elected officials acutely aware of the voting blocs they represent at election time.
The anonymous taxpayer-at-large represents no identifiable interest group, and therefore has comparatively little, if any, influence.
This Turf Rally is nothing new. in the1980s, it was the Robert Leather’s Playground for Meckauer Park, a Town Youth Advisor, a swimming pool proposal and, more recently, a second pool proposal, a golf course, a teen center and a skateboard park!
Some of these were rejected at town-wide referendum, however, the advocates always amassed huge crowds of vocal supporters at the public meetings. And elected officials accommodated them without exception.
Another reason why spending cannot be restrained is because town officials bundle projects to build coalitions of support. When the Stony Hill Fire Department renovation was yoked to the Library demolition/renovation, if you supported the firemen, you had to approve a Library that many regarded as too big, expensive and incongruous.
Linking funding for a firetruck to a turf field in this budget echoes a past where, in order to support a necessity, voters are forced to endorse a luxury.
Bundling is an age-old federal and state political strategy that is now routinely used by municipalities.
Special interest politics will produce ever higher property and business taxes, unless forgotten taxpayers “Vote NO”. Whether or not that happens this year remains to be seen at Wednesday April 11 referendum.