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Voters already rejected artificial turf fields

September 27, 2018

The recent article in The News-Times supporting the proposed artificial turf field for Bethel High School, “Leveling the Playing Field,” unwittingly illustrates how uneven that playing field is for Bethel taxpayers.

Substantial cost overruns with the new police station, a looming $65 million schools’ project and annual increases to more than 500 town and school employees had emboldened Selectmen Rich Straiton and Paul Szatkowski to REMOVE it from the current annual budget.

After the March 20th Public Hearing commandeered by artificial turf advocates and students/athletes, the Board of Finance reversed the Board of Selectmen’s decision and added it back to the proposed capital plan.

At referendum, both the $2.3 million capital plan (1,256 to 1,560) and the town side of the budget (1,400 to 1,466) were rejected.

Had the $979,000 field not been strategically bundled with new highway truck, street sweeper and a firetruck, the capital plan would have failed by a larger margin.

The “bundling” practice is the pork barrel politicking that forced town workers and firemen to reluctantly support a special interest project to ensure the approval of the capital items that serve the public-at-large.

First Selectman Matt Knickerbocker’s admitted support for revisiting this expenditure is proof positive of the disadvantage Bethel taxpayers-at-large suffer compared to the identifiable voting blocs of special interest groups.

Every interest group gets two or three bites of a loaf EXCEPT for the taxpayers who only get crumbs.

I hope that Selectmen Straiton and Szatkowski have the courage to summarily reject any plan to refer to a Special Town Meeting a nearly $1 million item that was already rejected by voters only months ago! To approve this project based on promises of additional “fundraising” by turf advocates is backdoor politics at its worst.

This could become the next “Nightmare Before Christmas” referendum that this administration is famous for.

Billy Michael

Bethel

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