The consequences for Greenwich of not voting


Whether you focus on it or not, there is an election on November 2 for our elected officials, and the result has more of an impact on your quality of life here in Greenwich than you might think.

Unfortunately, only 40 percent of our registered voters typically vote in municipal elections. The result is that a fairly small number of party supporters control the outcome, and their narrow priorities govern the existence or absence of municipal and educational services that you would have liked to see, but will not.

Instead, control of the budget was given to a select few appointed by the Republican city committee with a very clear agenda, clearly demonstrated by their actions. Be called back:


1. Storm preparedness: If you’ve finally dried up from the ravages of Storm “Ida”, know that this year’s budget cut on a party line vote was funding to study and understand the vulnerabilities of our city’s assets to storm flooding and storm surge. sea ​​level rise, and plan solutions. It was an interruption of what had been a three-year project.

2. Schools update: Cut and postponed, on a party line vote, has been the methodical process of sequentially renovating our aging schools: Julian Curtiss, who will be followed by Old Greenwich, then followed by Riverside, to address issues such as access for people with disabilities, safety, pre-K, air quality and updating of media centers, science rooms, cafeterias and playgrounds. Updating these tired schools was seen by them (none of which have children in public schools) as just a ‘good to have’.

3. Fire protection: Having spent $ 76,020 on an outside consultant, Matrix Consulting Group, and being told (again) that our fire and emergency response in the northern areas of town is substandard, funds needed to study and implement Matrix’s recommendation to establish a quarry fire station, either at the site of the existing volunteer station in Round Hill or at another location, has been cut. Cut to a party line vote. The response to the fires in the northern sectors of the city is out of the question for another year.

4. North Mianus: Funding for the repair of the collapsed ceiling at North Mianus School was delayed by a party line vote, while Republicans were reluctant to repair and replace that school’s remaining ceilings, ceilings of the same age and the same construction as the one that collapsed, but work not reimbursed by insurance. Was there honestly a question whether we risk another classroom ceiling collapse? Has the impact of delay on children not been taken into account?

5. Central college: School board engineers in a party line vote called for budget cuts to examine the deteriorating condition of the Central Middle School structure, better understand its condition, and plan its repair or repair. its possible replacement. Apparently better not to know.

6. East Greenwich Civic Center: The release of funding to finally renovate the Eastern Greenwich Civic Center has been withdrawn on a party line vote, not to be released unless and until there are “substantial private donations” and a demonstration “rents and charges” to be collected if the job is done.

7. Safe cycle paths: Cycling enthusiasts across town have organized themselves to ask for a small amount of seed capital for an overview of the feasibility of safe cycle paths across town, offering to supplement town funds with their private donations. It kept the promise to separate cyclists from vehicles on our busiest routes. Good for everyone, but the funding was rejected in a party line vote.

8. Paving: Paving, previously done at around $ 5 million annually to maintain our roads, was reduced to $ 3.5 million in a party line vote. Hopefully our cyclists, for lack of safe routes, will not fall into our proliferating potholes.

9. Fire apparatus: We are replacing fire trucks on an orderly rotation at seven stations, passing the replaced engines on to our volunteer companies. For the second year, this orderly rotation was suspended on a party line vote.

ten. The recycling center. For a decade, the Ministry of Public Works has been urging an overhaul of chaotic traffic patterns at the landfill, to reduce delays and avoid the risk of injury. Again, not a dime. Party line vote.

11. Capital budgeting: For years, we have planned to pay a portion of our capital projects in cash rather than borrowing, and we have increased that cash component each year by a modest number approaching inflation. But this cash component is added to the thousandth rate. This discipline has been quelled for the second year now, in a party line vote, to artificially suppress the actual thousandth rate. Failure to fund this component in cash compromises the city’s ability to meet its capital planning for subsequent years.

Good government balances taxes and services, seeks a balance that finances a community with reasonable taxes while providing a level of amenity that makes it a place we all want to live.

Low taxes are good. In fiscal years 2018-19 and 2019-20, in which Democrats led BET, the zero and 2.75% tax increases were lower than they had ever been in the past. during the previous decades of the Republican administration. Good management does not require being stingy and petty.

In each election, we send 12 citizens to our finance council, the Board of Estimate and Taxation. Six Republicans and six Democrats. They create the budget and control the balance between taxes and services. Despite the appearance of a balance of six-six, the city charter provides that the party whose six candidates total the most votes in the election will appoint the president, and the president has a decisive vote. In recent years, party line votes were scarce and budgets were worked out with active dialogue on both sides of the aisle. In Trump’s later years, that dialogue faded and was replaced by the drumbeat of party line votes, decided simply by the imposition of the president’s decisive vote.

If the Republican vote record recounted for you here no longer suits you, if the scales are tilted badly, then you should be aware of the power of your vote on November 2 and the possibility of voting for the six Democrats vying for the council. ‘administration. of Estimation and Taxes, passing the decisive vote of the president into new hands.

It has never been easier to vote. The governor’s decree under COVID is still in effect, allowing every citizen to vote either at the polls on November 2 or by mail. Requests for a postal vote can be picked up at the city clerk’s office, by calling 203-622-7897, emailing [email protected]), or downloading them from www.greenwichct.gov.

It is still a democracy. Elections have consequences.

Jeff Ramer is a member of the Board of Estimate and Taxation.

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