Board of Selectmen Report provided by Ted Hoffstatter
Budget, BOE, and the BOS
The Town is still looking into a statute that may give the BOS power to approve or reject BOE contracts. We have finally received an opinion in a lengthy packet from Mr. Brennan. It appears that the BOS can reject a BOE contract, but that means it will be sent to arbitration.
My Take: As we all know, where the BOS role really lies in the process has a huge impact on what we can or can’t do in respect to school contracts, and what the public will or will not expect from us in the process. In the past, we have had somewhat of a “pass” on the BOE budget, when it comes to the public and press. Let’s see where this lands. If we do have a larger role in the process, I hope we embrace that role, and take it as an opportunity to move forward in a positive way that is fair to our educators and taxpayers alike. Shared sacrifice seems to be the order of the day in tough times. Some creative approaches would help too; we may have a lot of listening to do. An opportunity to face this challenge head on. I hope the BOS does not shy away from any additional responsibility we may have. This should be an opportunity for progress. Keep in mind that if the BOS were to reject an unreasonable contract, and our rejection failed in arbitration, the Town could stick to its desired budget number with lay offs. Believe me, as a parent and a teacher, the last thing I want to do is lay teachers off. At the same time, the threat could be a good negotiating tool. Governor Malloy sent out the pink slips, and the unions came to the table. Again, I support our Town employees, and I do believe in Unions! At the same time, we do need shared sacrifice…
Reusable Bag Initiative
Go Green reports that since the education program began,reusable bag use has increased from about ten percent to over twenty percent. Go Green’s goal was fifty percent within a year’s time.
My Take: Here is the article that I have written for the next issue of our Town’s Conservation Newsletter:
This past year the Board of Selectmen has promoted a Reusable Bag Initiative, and we are fortunate to have Wilton Go Green’s support in implementing the program. Over twelve thousand reusable bags were given away for free over a two month period; there was also a car window sticker give away, and an aggressive public relations program with a school contest to generate the art to put on the reusable bags. The Board of Selectmen seriously considered passing an ordinance concerning the use of reusable bags, but we decided to see if an education program could work to achieve the same goal. Go Green has stated a goal of fifty percent use of reusable bags; I personally support that goal. Go Green conducted an audit at several stores to compare the percentage of people using reusable bags before, and two months after the program began. The rate of reusable bag use before the program began was eight to ten percent; the rate two months later was over twenty percent. I will update you on how the trend continues–we hope! There will be another audit in November from Go Green. We have seen an uptick,but we are far from our goal.
Why bother? Why does it really matter on a Town level? Towns are the key to promoting Green initiatives. The fact is, corporate lobbies are so strong, that passing any meaningful legislation on a State level is extremely difficult. Thee are one million plastic shopping bags used per minute worldwide. Less than one percent are recycled in the end. The Connecticut State legislature has attempted to pass legislation on this matter, and has repeatedly failed. We need to take matters into our own hands.
Like the saying goes, think globally, act locally.
The BOS is currently in the process of researching CT Towns with similar demographics as to what they have done on this issue.
My Take: I am researching Berlin, CT, and there are many demographic similarities. We are already doing much of what they are doing, although we don’t have a specific paid position of Economic Development Director. In the last ten years, Berlin has received approx. five million dollars in grant money. That averages to over $500,000 a year; Wilton has received more than that this year—hats off to Sandy Dennies, our CFO. There is still alot of work to do in this area, and much more is sure to come!
Senior Tax Relief and Related Issues
We have a special meeting to discuss the Senior Survey on October 20th.
I am looking forward to investigating what more we can do for Seniors in Town. Fellow Selectman Richard Creeth and I were very strong in our support of extending what Senior Tax Relief we could during the discussion last year. I have always felt that in order for Wilton to stay a True Community, we need to keep seniors in Town. A community needs continuity; we don’t want to be a transient boarding school for families who simply leave when the kids go to college.
I look forward to attending our campaign events for this fall’s election! Many thanks to Carol Ball for her hard work in running the Campaign Committee. Then it is on to 2012! We are planning to put together a Fat Cat Event focusing on Obama and Himes this Spring, details TBA.
Contact Selectman Ted Hoffstatter any time with comments or questions via email or phone at (203) 451-5049.