Issue: Taxes and Fiscal Responsibility
FIRST SELECTMAN CANDIDATE TESORO TAXES AND FISCAL RESPONSIBILITY PLATFORM
Preamble: Team Tesoro believes in two fundamental principles: first, we can’t spend what we don’t have and second, spending must be properly prioritized, transparent, and consistent with sound fiscal practices. We are in stiff competition for new businesses and new residents, so Trumbull and its residents cannot afford large tax increases.
Over the past eight years our town’s spending, taxes, fees, and fines have all increased. Vicki Tesoro knows, “We don’t need to spend more, we need to spend smarter.” Team Tesoro, made up of Unaffiliated voters, Democrats, and former Republicans, wants to change the direction of the policies hurting our town in the short and long term. Team Tesoro’s plan will control taxes by controlling spending. We will set priorities that minimize increases. We will eliminate unnecessary costs. We will focus on priorities that maximize taxpayer value. We will work for what is good for Trumbull, not what is good for a political party.
Though the Republican administration has repeatedly told us that they have kept taxes in Trumbull low, you have to look at the record. Since their first budget in 2010, Republicans have increased spending every single year – through 8 consecutive budgets. If that were not bad enough, the following information further illustrates Trumbull’s present financial condition:
- Trumbull is 10th in the state out of 169 towns and cities in growth of municipal spending since 2010.*
- Trumbull’s mill rate has increased 31% over the last 5 years. Our mill rate increase is 38th in the state out of 169 towns and cities.*
- Trumbull has one of the highest levels of debt per capita; Trumbull ranks 12th out of 169 towns and cities in Connecticut. *
- Trumbull’s Grand List has declined 10% since 2010.*
It is not just our spending and taxes that have increased with this administration’s fiscal irresponsibility:
- Our WPCA (Water Pollution Control Authority) sewer use rates have increased 37% since 2010.
- Our tax money has been spent to purchase private property at prices far above market rates.
- The use of our parks and pools have been threatened with a proposed resident fee that will increase the cost of living in Trumbull even more.
- The current administration wants to raise $1 million by imposing new fees on residents’ garbage disposal – a “trash tax.” This will increase the cost of residential garbage pickup by $100-150 per year and impose a fee on those who bring their trash to the disposal center. This is another tax disguised as a fee. But worse, this can’t be deducted from income taxes and will hit low-income and fixed-income residents the hardest.
Vicki Tesoro has a comprehensive and focused plan to invest in priorities that will positively impact our home values and improve the quality of life in Trumbull. This includes maintaining and supporting vital municipal services such as public safety, senior services, education, and public works with continued focus on growing our Grand List and town savings account.
Vicki’s goal is to invest in priorities. Her administration will:
- Lead by example and immediately repeal the 20.2% salary increase for the First Selectman and other increases for elected officials resulting from the current Republican administration’s self-serving salary proposal. This was passed with little data and virtually no public input. The Tesoro Team wants elected leaders in Trumbull not to be guaranteed bigger annual raises than the residents of Trumbull who are paying the salaries.
- Reduce excessive spending by eliminating unnecessary executive positions with high priced long-term contracts, removing redundant positions, and reducing bloated legal and consulting fees.
- Partner with neighboring municipalities to reduce expenses and create efficiencies. The current Republican administration left the regional Monroe-Trumbull Health District and created our own Health Department. That move increased our costs. We need to find opportunities to reduce costs, not increase them.
- Prohibit Town departments from seeking supplemental appropriations from the General Fund except in cases of emergency. These “back-door” taxes result in deficits, deplete our town’s General Fund and ignore transparent spending practices. We will be honest with Trumbull residents about the cost of services.
- Focus education spending where it best helps our children succeed in life: maintain small class sizes, expand foreign language, STEM, and coding offerings, continue to invest in curriculum and professional development, and create a long-term infrastructure improvement plan. We will work with our school administrators and other experts to ensure that we maximize our available education dollars.
- Allow our residents to vote on the proposed Community/Senior Center: With the fiscal uncertainty at the state and federal levels, Trumbull needs to be careful. Any bonding that further increases the burdens on our residents, such as the building of a Community/Senior Center, should be voted on by our taxpayers as required by our Town Charter.
- Restrict town-paid cell phones and take-home town cars only to those town employees who need them for public safety and for off hour activity directly related to their jobs. Right now, 32 employees have take-home cars. This egregious waste of taxpayer money must stop immediately. Employees who have a phone at their desk and don’t drive to job sites or clients don’t need a town car or cell phone. These must be offered only on the basis of need.
- Require town government department heads to justify each and every expense. Each program will be objectively measured for efficiency and impact.
- Limit bonding to projects that improve infrastructure that is essential for our citizens, not for small projects or short-term payments that should be properly approved and funded through the general budget process.
- Protect the town’s saving account and be transparent about spending decisions. The current Republican administration has taken $1.8 million from our town’s General Fund to cover their spending and is pretending that they have lowered our tax increase. They don’t tell us this, and this is not the first year they’ve taken this action. This nonsense leaves our Town in a hole for next year. Raiding the town savings account to artificially lower taxes is bad fiscal practice that deceives taxpayers. We will stop this fiscal sleight of hand and ensure that we use our town savings account fund only when absolutely necessary.
Vicki Tesoro and her administration will ensure that every dollar spent on behalf of Trumbull taxpayers improves residents’ quality of life and protects our property values. Current spending will be scrutinized. Budgets will be transparent, realistic and properly prioritized. We will be honest with Trumbull residents about the effects of our budget decisions and the cost of living in Trumbull. We will NOT make grandiose promises just to get elected.
Team Tesoro is focused on keeping Trumbull affordable for today and preserving Trumbull for tomorrow. We don’t need to spend more. We need to spend smarter.