Letter - Trumbull budget is 'a house of cards'

To the editor:

At first blush, this house has an attractive façade - a zero tax increase - but buyer beware. The budget is built on a shaky foundation, has no bones and sits on the edge of a huge funding cliff.

To reach a zero-tax increase, the first selectman has subsidized the expenditures in it with a $2.8 million withdrawal from our general fund (a threat to our bond rating). At least another million dollars in budget cuts will have to be restored in the following fiscal year due to all of the cuts to services and programs made to the senior center, recreation, library staffing and public works.

There are a number of revenue and expenditure assumptions, such as union/labor concessions ($250,000 to $300,000) and bond refunding ($1.3 million) which, even if materialized, will be one-time savings, steepening the funding cliff in fiscal year 2021-22 to more than $4 million.

So here is what you are not getting for your zero-tax increase:

- leaf pickup in jeopardy as half of the salary OT account used for it was slashed;

- Don’t go to the library on a hot Sunday afternoon, it will be closed;

- Little in the way of recreation programs this summer thanks to a $100,000 cut in Rec department programming account;

- No food for our poll workers.

Education programming was increased but by only $224,000. The balance of the $500,000 reduction by the Board of Finance will not be fully realized. Board of Education savings which were stolen by the Council Democrats to make up the balance of the BOF reduction. A compromise they said. The Board of Education could have used their found savings to offset the $1.6 million reduction by the first selectman of the superintendent’s budget request that the Town Council was powerless to address.

The first selectman will blame the virus for all of the cuts because the resulting closures dropped our revenues in addition to the $750,000 in lost tax revenue from the mall. The truth is our current budget was suffering serious revenue shortages before March. The savings from the closure of our schools and sports programming helped close a large deficit.

The administration elected to postpone the Grand List revaluation for a year. Had we taken advantage of the governor’s executive order to conduct a statistical revaluation by mail questionnaires to taxpayers this year, we could have saved $215,000, instead of deferring the expense to next fiscal year.

This budget is a poorly engineered house of cards that will collapse on us next fiscal year when demand escalates to restore essential services funding in the face of huge revenue shortages.

Carl A Massaro Jr., minority leader

Steve Lemoine

Donna Seidell

Lori Rosasco-Schwartz

Tony Scinto