Letter: Budget crisis will hurt environment

To the editor,

The state budget crisis is in full view. We know our lives and environment are tied to these budget battles. Why? The system will bring this crisis to our towns with a roar.

That already happened two years ago with budget cuts in Naugatuck. Public works, including the Park Department, were severely cutback with job loses. The Gunntown Passive Park and Nature Preserve, that gem of Valley ecology and history, felt these cuts immediately.

This varied and sensitive environment, particularly its wetlands, was and remains in the midst of a biodiversity program. It involves removal of invasive species, plantings, and educational work. Volunteers can only do so much.

Naugatuck now has even more municipal park areas coming on-line. The Andrew Mountain passive open space, with a connecting trail to the Naugatuck State Forest, is a welcomed addition. The new dog park is a long needed diversification of recreation here. Two new active parks are planned, one at Andrew Mountain and another at Apple Estates. Where will the money come from to maintain all this?  How are our over stretched park workers going to cope with the added work?

The cutbacks, selling town property, and privatizing, like Visiting Nurses in 2013-14, has not worked. Continuing to increase taxes on private property owners and renters cannot remedy these budget crises. The solution is obvious. Go where the money is.

Most of us pay about 10.5 percent in state and local taxes according to the Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy. Wealthiest residents pay between 5.3 percent and 7.6 percent. Taxing the wealthiest the same as the rest of us would add an additional $3 billion per year. That would solve many problems, including monies for additional park workers for our expanding park system in Naugatuck.

Len Yannielli


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