Jankovic-Mark responds to Stern Village letter

Editor's Note: This a response to a letter the Times ran online last week.

To the Residents of Stern Village,

Thank you for your letter to the Trumbull Times. I appreciate you voicing your concerns. I am pleased that you are happy with some of the changes that have been made to your community by the new Executive Director. Harriet Polansky’s improvements, such as her Tuesday Teas, improvements to parking and to the community room, as well as her constant concern about your welfare and safety, are wonderful; and I give all credit and congratulations due to her for the good work that she has done since taking on the post as Executive Director at Stern Village.

The problems I do see, however, arising at Stern Village are ones which must be addressed immediately. Based on my research, certain expenses have increased greatly at Stern Village. The cost of the new Executive Director, plus the cost of the part time accountant ($70,000 per year), is much more than the cost for the previous director annually. Based on the most recent budget for Stern Village (including the Congregate), administrative overhead has increased by 39%. Roughly, this increase amounts to $400 per household annually. Meanwhile, the line item providing funding for major maintenance projects has been cut by 70%. The previous director allocated about $200,000 per year toward this funding. I am concerned that in order to pay for the increased overhead, there will be less funding available to replace roofs, windows, and repave when necessary.

It is disturbing that the line item for attorneys’ fees has increased by $11,000 annually in the Stern Village budget. Once again, the firm receiving these fees is the current First Selectman’s former law firm where he briefly worked before becoming First Selectman. It is notable that the Town’s budget line item for attorneys’ fees, payable to the same firm, nearly doubled in the First Selectman’s first budget beginning in 2010.

I also am deeply concerned about the information circulating about mail not being delivered properly at Stern Village. I want answers to the question of how letters intended for the Stern Village Tenants’ Association did not make it to the intended recipient and allegedly resulted in delivery elsewhere and in a visit by the Deputy Chief of Police to a private citizen’s home to discuss one of the letters. Mail delivery is protected by federal law; we must get to the bottom of this.

I am certainly not trying to “pollute the minds of Trumbull residents.” But I am very concerned with how Stern Village has been faring under the rapid turnover of Trumbull Housing Authority commissioners, which has occurred since last December and is undeniable. While Trumbull’s tax dollars do not directly support Stern Village, other than to pay for town services rendered to the community, they do pay the salary of the First Selectman, who has indeed been responsible for the continuous turnover and reappointment of new commissioners. Those commissioners are now responsible for increasing expenses and cutting savings allocated to maintain and improve your homes.

Martha Jankovic-Mark