To preserve Greenwich as a premier town in which to raise and educate a family, own a business and invest, the town's financial plan must provide and maintain fiscal stability. This means keeping spending reasonable, committing capital carefully and acting in a prudent financial manner.
We are grateful to be among the 155 residents who have served, or seek to serve, on the Greenwich Board of Estimate and Taxation (BET) during the past 102 years.
As Republicans, we support these successful, fiscal values. They allow us to fund our current vision and goals without compromising future generations.
Like our predecessors who did not financially burden us, we do not want to obligate the next generation.
In contrast, the Greenwich Democratic Party is advocating longer-term borrowing (up to 20 years), higher debt ceiling limits (to more than double the present $210 million level), maintaining lower unrestricted fund balances and burdening future property owners with hefty taxes. We do not believe these recommendations are prudent.
Over decades, Republican leadership at the BET has made a major contribution to our wonderful town. We can be proud of Greenwich's record of careful spending of the public's money.
Our predecessors developed the financial framework that has made Greenwich the envy of many other communities.
The current financial plan has permitted us to commit $420 million in capital projects over the last nine budgets.
These funds have been split evenly between the town and the Board of Education. There are currently five major projects underway, including Nathaniel Witherell Project Renew, Phase 3 of the Central Fire Station, refurbishment of the Cos Cob Power Plant site for recreation, construction of the GHS music instructional space and auditorium (MISA), and the forced sewer main from Cos Cob to central Greenwich.
We also have responded to challenges such as the three major storms since 2010. Our sound planning resulted in ample reserves to aggressively repair those sections of town that experienced extensive damage. This has all been accomplished within the existing debt and fund balance policies. Throughout this period, the BET continued to fund the town's reserve accounts, which include the risk fund and other post-employment benefits fund.
We initiated the current policy on unrestricted fund balance (the town's liquidity to fund a rainy day) at the suggestion of the rating agencies.
As a result, the town maintains a Triple A rating. When this policy was adopted two years ago by the BET, the vote was nearly unanimous at 11-0-1.
The debt and fund balance policies were reviewed and approved last month, with the vote split, 6 Republicans in favor and 6 Democrats against. We disagree that these recently created policies now deserve to be weakened.
The current policy, the modified pay-as-you-go system, is structured to borrow only to meet capital project cash flow needs.
Two one-year bond anticipation notes (BANS), followed by five-year notes with equal annual amortization, provide the flexibility to borrow in tranches to meet the capital needs of a project as it proceeds from concept, to design and then to construction.
The interest rates on BANS and five-year notes are much lower than on 20-year bonds.
The Republican BET members are committed to stable and moderate mill rate increases of 3 percent or less. Democratic policies would result in greater tax increases, spending down the fund balance and long-term bonding that increases the total cost of every financed project.
Instead, we plan to continue prudent financial management. The town grand list and property sale values are not appreciating at the mid-2000 level.
To follow the philosophy advocated by some would have dramatically increased taxes and exacerbated the taxpayers' burden during this period.
The BET Democrats are suggesting higher mill rate increases near 4 percent. The differences may seem small. However, the compounded effect is not small. We will preserve lower tax rates, a benefit to every resident.
We ask you sincerely to continue to support and vote for the Greenwich Republican candidates for the BET on Election Day, Nov. 5.