AP NEWS

Jill Oberlander BET a model of bipartisan cooperation

November 30, 2018

Much has been written these past two weeks about the need for a new approach to government — one that respects individuals and encourages participation, regardless of political affiliation.

We have a highly effective model of respectful bipartisanship right here in Greenwich in the Board of Estimate and Taxation.

Our partnership works to ensure Greenwich residents receive transparent and accountable government marked by respectful dialogue, collaboration and compromise. This past year, after spirited debate, the BET voted unanimously to approve the Fiscal 2019 budget and the Fiscal 2020 budget guidelines. These budget actions balance varying visions of the town’s direction, spending priorities and overall expense levels. While in the end members sometimes had to “agree to disagree,” all members are engaged and have the opportunity to present and advocate their views, thanks to the committee structure and process.

We also affirm the view that the town should function as one whole and not as separate parts. For this reason, this BET is working closely with other boards and commissions to enhance communication and improve governance procedures. As examples, the BET has embarked on a cooperative project with the Board of Education to review capital project procedures and is in frequent communication with Representative Town Meeting members on budgetary and policy issues.

At the end of the day, all residents benefit when elected officials leave politics at the door and deliberate on the merits. Each BET member is asked to be open to different views and work collaboratively to identify points of agreement. In this way, the BET can identify the best solutions for the town as a whole and hope that our actions will engender the support and confidence of the public.

Jill Oberlander is chair of the Greenwich Board of Estimate and Taxation.

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