Letter: Budget conclusions and questions

To the Editor:

As the Democratic Minority Leader of the Trumbull Town Council, I wish to inform you how the council concluded the budget process this year with our vote on April 10. For the first time in the eight years I’ve been on the Council, the First Selectman was not present for our annual budget vote meeting to answer questions.

I had quite a few questions which could not be answered at our meeting because of Mr. Herbst’s absence, the answers to which could have clarified the rationale for certain increases in expenses in our budget.

As a volunteer, I put in a lot of time into attending meetings, studying meeting minutes and contacting town employees for details, working up to the last minute in order to prepare for this budget vote. Some of the other council members do the same, although some did not even pick up their budget books prior to the meeting, yet they still vote. You also should know that most of the council republicans did not support the cuts to the budget which I proposed. Please understand that due to the real estate revaluation a few years ago, a greater portion of the tax burden has been placed on commercial real estate property owners in Trumbull, decreasing the tax burden of the residential real estate property owners. However, actual town expenses have soared dramatically upwards over the past four budgets.  Should a future revaluation shift the burden back to residential properties, we could see a substantial tax increase to residential real estate property owners, even if expenses did not increase; and expenses tend to increase, not decrease. Our future is not looking bright, due to the past four years’ increased expenses.

The night after our budget vote, the Town Council and the Board of Finance held a joint meeting to discuss whether to bond three groups of items, including school security expenses, the football field turf maintenance and technology equipment for the schools. I believe that all of these items should have been included in the budget, rather than putting off these expenses, plus interest, into the future, and attempting to make the current budget increase appear smaller than the actual spending increase.

Martha Jankovic Mark