Larry Craybas: “Support Bethel and our schools by VOTING YES on both budgets Tuesday, April 21st. Bethel must come first for us! Both budgets are good, tight, and reasonable … budgets that will preserve the quality and character of our town, and the services we have a right to expect.”
Report by Paula Antolini
April 12, 2015 11:19AM EDT
Bethel Advocate / Letter to the Bethel Advocate Editor from Lawrence Craybas:
Hey Bethel, It’s Not Us. It’s Hartford!
I have lived in Bethel for 36 years. Lately, each year at tax time, as a community we beat ourselves up deciding what services we would be willing to cut or what repairs or purchases we would delay to keep property taxes reasonable and the mill rate low. We attempt to fix problems that are not really ours to begin with. The culprit and fault rests in Hartford. We have a state government that believes spending will fix everything. You and I know it won’t. You cannot close a $2 Billion deficit by spending more, and certainly not through funding manipulation and chicanery.
Due bills get passed down to towns, and like sheep we accept Hartford’s problems and the state’s refusal to get its own house in order. Again and again we struggle with what services must be reduced or what items we should do without? We ask ourselves, should we:
• Cut education and short change a generation of children from getting the right start in life?
• Should we put off buying a new fire truck, new snow plows, or a needed road grader?
• Maybe we can live with rough roads and pot holes one more year.
• We shouldn’t even think about renovating any town buildings; there’s no money for that.
Personally, I want the services property taxes were meant to provide a Bethel resident.
Hartford doesn’t think this way because they know we have no recourse to deal with the malfunction and mismanagement that exists at the state level. Here are some examples of “new spending proposals” coming out of Senate and House committees this legislative session. All are headed to the Appropriations Committee for funding consideration. These recommendations show a total disregard for the financial problems faced by small towns and their residents:
• Create a Regional “Council of Governments” (SB 1) funded by a share of each town and city’s property tax revenue. The Objective: Redistribute this tax revenue to less affluent communities to help them develop their economic base … e. property tax revenue that will be out of our control and most likely lost forever.
• Privatize certain roadways … which inevitably will mean tolls and more cost for neighboring towns.
• Personal property tax collection in Hartford, i.e. the car tax, with a prescribed share returned to Bethel … do you really believe any money will come back to Bethel?
• Reintroduce tolls throughout Connecticut’s highway system … which will have a measurable economic impact on border towns and be an added commuting expense for all.
• Reintroduce a discarded 2008 graduation credit requirement to earn a High School diploma … which will directly conflict with Connecticut’s education reform initiatives implemented over the last 3 years. If resurrected, these old requirements will force towns to hire more teachers and change curriculum to comply … all of this after the state spent tens of millions implementing new performance standards for teachers and students to improve student achievement and learning.
• Raid Education Cost Sharing, i.e. ECS grants, to offset some of the $25 Million funding cut from statewide mental health services.
• Increase state university and college tuition 5% still leaving an operational deficit yet to be addressed … a new unexpected expense for parents and students alike.
What should we do? Support Bethel and our schools by VOTING YES on both budgets Tuesday, April 21st. Bethel must come first for us! Both budgets are good, tight, and reasonable … budgets that will preserve the quality and character of our town, and the services we have a right to expect.
How should we react to the state’s pension for spending while avoiding cutting costs? As a people we most shout loudly to every legislator and to Governor Malloy in particular to STOP THE SPENDING MADNESS … GET YOUR HOUSE IN ORDER … you are on the verge of bankrupting towns. You have caused Connecticut’s financial problems. Stop asking and expecting us to bail you out.