To the Editor,
On April 2st the voters of Monroe went to the polls and rejected a proposed budget that would have increased the mill rate by 4.24%. On April 12th I reduced the current budget request by $200,000 which reduced the mill rate increase to 4.10%. If approved at the 4/23/13 referendum, this budget will provide Monroe’s voters with much needed services which have been long needed in our community.
The expense increase request now stands at 2.17%. Over the last 4 budgets we have done a very good job of holding down expenses while still keeping to the commitment of fixing roads, our infrastructure and keeping our students and parents well educated, safe and secure.
The reductions I made did not come without hardship to municipal and education services. I have reduced municipal requests by $100,000 and further reduced the education budget request by an additional $100,000. In making these budget reductions we are perilously close to moving Monroe backwards instead of taking continual steps forward. In order to address these cuts, on the municipal side of the budget I reduced:
- Town health insurances by $30,000
- Parks & Recreation Equipment and Wolfe Park improvements by $20,000
- Public Works Equipment by $10,000
- Town Building & Maintenance – Heat by $20,000
- Debt Service by $20,000
The Board of Education is considering a variety of non educational adjustments. Remember from the time our Superintendent announced his budget, we have reduced the Board of Education, including this $100,000, by approximately $925,000. I commend the Superintendent for working with the Board of Finance and my office for these additional cost savings.
It is fair to say that everyone associated with the budget has been working hard to provide the voters with a plan that balances needs with the ability to fund required services. However we are at a point where further reductions to this budget have the potential to negatively impact property values in Monroe.
I have spent time reviewing economic data for Monroe and our region. Every voter is aware that the housing market has been hurt during this extended economic downturn. I am sure you realize that this not only affects Monroe but the region, Connecticut and all of America.
Cutting education funds and town services will do absolutely nothing to remedy this situation. In fact, the strength of any community's real estate market and property values, in good economies and especially in bad, are directly tied to the services a town provides which includes the quality of a town’s public school system. This year we are delivering Full Day Kindergarten and enhanced safety and security services. These services have shown to enhance our property values.
Every resident has a right to question the rate of growth of Town expenses. I expect and welcome it. However there is a greater concern that all residents need to think about and that is what kind of town do they want to live in? Do we want to live in a town where prospective homeowners decide that Monroe doesn’t provide a value proposition for their future? Do we want to live in a town where we put public safety and security as a secondary concern? Do we want to close our Senior Center Edith Wheeler Memorial Library or curtail their hours of operation? Do we want to see less usage of Wolfe and Great Hollow Park?
Voters can show they DO care about the quality of life in Monroe by passing a budget on the 23nd of April that improves our roads and infrastructure, educates our children, including Full Day Kindergarten and adequately funds public safety and security,
Town of Monroe