Report by Paula Antolini, May 3, 2020, 1:14PM EDT
OPINION / LETTER TO THE EDITOR
The corona virus pandemic has affected everyone. Some people have tragically lost loved ones, life events both large and small have been disrupted and people’s financial situation has been negatively impacted and, in some cases, catastrophically so. Yes, everything has changed but one thing remains constant, the annual Town of Bethel tax increase.
It would be unfair to say that the Town of Bethel‘s budget process is the same. This year the citizens of Bethel will NOT have the opportunity to vote on it. Town officials throw up their hands and say it’s the governor’s fault since he has mandated that the Annual Town Meeting and referendum are not permitted due to the current crisis. How convenient! The budget includes a $1.5 million increase in new spending, a 2.3 percent tax increase and a 1 percent mill rate hike. This is proposed while many of our citizens have lost their jobs, been furloughed or had their income dramatically reduced. Many local businesses are on the brink of collapse. Yet, the Town of Bethel claims to have no alternative but to raise our taxes!
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Everyone has had to make sacrifices in these trying times. Everyone, that is, except First Selectman Matt Knickerbocker and those officials in favor of this budget. A responsible and ethical solution given the situation would be to maintain the current budget with no tax increase. Nineteen towns have done just that including Newtown, Redding and Ridgefield. Make no mistake, this won’t happen in Bethel. It never does.
We have all had to make changes and sacrifices in our lives as a result of the Covid-19 crisis but for the Town of Bethel it is business as usual. The “we” in “we are all in this together” apparently does not include them.
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This tax hike is unconscionable. Please let your local officials know that.