Full Text — Lavoie responds to Tesoro mailer
Over the next few weeks Trumbull residents will be receiving a number of political mailers regarding the upcoming municipal election and it is important for people to not only read the material but also fact check the statements made by candidates. Just this past week the Trumbull Democratic candidate for first selectman released her first mailer and while it is filled with pleasant sounding one-liners and nice pictures, you have to do some research to understand the whole picture.
Among the accomplishments touted in her mailer is her push to reduce the town budget by $2 million dollars. Sounds great right? Well, if you look at which cuts were proposed, the result to the taxpayer would have been a tax increase and a loss of services to residents. How can you recommend a budget cut that ultimately hurts residents and claim that as a positive? Vicki’s cuts included snow removal, debris and tree removal, leaf pickup and closing the town transfer station on Saturdays. Given that Governor Malloy has proposed eliminating all education and infrastructure aid to Trumbull it is important that we seek to reduce costs, but I do think there are some basic levels of town services that we must find ways of maintaining despite the Governor’s cuts. In contrast to Vicki, I believe most savings can be achieved through energy performance contracting of our public buildings, breaking the silos between Town and Board of Education departments and negotiation of favorable town contracts.
Next, as part of her experience she claims that she has a proven record of fiscal restraint. Does fiscal restraint mean advocating for 54% in spending increases as a PTA leader over 8 years? Actions speak louder than words. With regards to the largest expenditure in our town budget, education, Vicki has routinely advocated for more spending over her many years of involvement. By contrast, when I saw a problem with the way money was being spent in our schools, I decided to not seek another 4 year term on the Board of Finance and ran for the Board of Education. I won a seat, was elected Chairman of the Finance Committee and worked in a bipartisan manner with colleagues to find cost savings that we were able to invest back into our children.
Among the items she claims as part of her vision for Trumbull, Vicki advocates for developing Trumbull Center, strengthening tax relief for seniors and allowing a vote on a Community Senior Center. First, Trumbull Center is private property and the town has no ability to force a private property owner to re-develop their property. Despite the lack of progress in Trumbull Center, we are the beneficiaries of new development projects including the Long Hill Green and Madison Village. These pocket developments have proved highly successful and popular with local residents and should be continued where feasible.
Next Vicki claims that as first selectman she will strengthen senior tax relief, but as she should know, the first selectman cannot implement tax relief, the town council does. Senior tax relief has usually passed with bipartisan support from members of the Town Council. If tax relief for seniors was an important issue for her, she could have proposed legislation while she served on the Town Council to grant additional relief to seniors; but she never did.
Finally, with regards to a vote on a Community Center, her mailer implies that residents will only have a chance to vote on a community center referendum with her team. She neglected to tell you that she opposed the 2011 Charter Revision that provides the ability for residents to vote on large capital improvement projects. This charter change was brought about due to the $73 million renovation of Trumbull High School. If Vicki truly believes voters should have a greater say in government and should vote on a $17.5 million community center, then why did she oppose residents who called for a referendum on the $73 million high school proposed by the former Democrat First Selectman and Town Council? It was the lack of a referendum on the high school renovation that led to Republicans putting forward charter revisions to require any project in excess of $15 million to go to Trumbull residents for a vote. Trumbull citizens agreed and overwhelming approved the capital expenditure referendum charter change. She opposed residents who proposed a referendum when Democrats decided to renovate the high school and she opposed the Charter Revision that would guarantee a referendum on any project over $15 million dollars. If she believes voters should have a say, why did she oppose a referendum on one of the largest capital improvement projects of the last 30 years and why did she oppose a change in our town constitution that allows greater public participation in government expenditures?
I urge all voters to do their homework on the candidates. Mailers can say a lot, but a person’s actions say a lot more.