After careful consideration, I find that I cannot fully support the 2011-12 municipal budget that will be presented for a vote on April 27.
The taxpayers spoke at a public hearing saying “reduce spending.” The Boards of Finance and Selectmen did respond by making significant changes reducing the proposed budget from a 1.4 mil increase to a 0.78 mil increase. At face value this looks like an acceptable response and budget, but this reduction was accomplished primarily by adding a new revenue line item, “Collection of Back Taxes,” at $200,000. This is not real money because the economy dictates what, where and how people spend, and they already decided not to pay these taxes.
I do not support this line item as a vehicle to balance the budget because it is not sound management practice to “hope” to collect something that for multiple reasons people did not pay when originally due.
There is approximately $2,000,000 in uncollected real estate, personal property and motor vehicle taxes in Beacon Falls. We need to aggressively attempt to collect these outstanding monies, but much of it is five to10 years old and probably never can be collected.
When I suggested a tax amnesty program last year I was told these programs do not work—that the collection rate is very small. Now all of a sudden an amnesty programs is being touted as one of the drivers behind collecting back taxes to fund this budget.
Lastly, I support and voted to send this budget to a referendum so that more people would have the opportunity to express their vote, but was overruled by the other selectmen. This is always a controversy as the percentage of voters that attend referendums is between 12 to 15 percent. Regardless of the low percentage of the turnout, this normally is tow to three times more participation then at town meetings and it is more convenient for all residents that choose to exercise their right to vote.
This economy requires hard decisions. The combined Boards of Selectmen and Finance have gone part way, but I do not believe that we have gone far enough to meet the expectation of the taxpayers. Unless there is a petition to go to referendum, the taxpayers will ultimately decide the fate of this budget at a town meeting on April 27. I urge everyone to attend and vote.
Michael A. Krenesky