Bethel finance board members call for yes vote
Dear fellow Bethel voters: We ask that you vote “Yes” at the budget referendum this Thursday, April 11.
The Board of Finance recommended fiscal year 2019-2020 budget results in a 2.24 percent increase in tax, about the expected rate of inflation, and results in an annual tax increase of $159 for the average Bethel home.
At the heart of the tax increase is a $1,279,895 increase in Debt Service related to the completed police station and the initial funding of the school renovation project. Both projects were approved in prior years and now they must be paid for. The increase in Debt Service accounts for 34 percent of the total increase.
In addition, the budget increases the town’s year-over-year investment in the school system by more than $2,625,000 (a $1,299,000 increase in the BOE operating budget, which is due almost entirely to contractual obligations and state mandates; $1,000,000 for the replacement of high school boilers; $200,000 debt service for school renovations; $125,000 for re-surfacing of the high school track; and increases in school-related items paid on the town side, such as the High School Resource Officers). This investment accounts for 35 percent of the increase.
Finally, this budget continues to reduce Bethel’s dependence on short-term debt, increasing the Capital Nonrecurring Account, which is used to make critical purchases, such as snow plows and fire apparatus, by $120,000 or 3 percent of the increase.
Opponents object to this fiscally prudent approach and, by doing so, are encouraging Bethel to spend beyond its means. Bethel should learn from the borrowing mistakes made by the State of Connecticut. Not repeat them. By paying cash instead of using the credit card, this budget avoids interest expense (generating recurring savings in future budgets) and offsets future increases in Debt Service.
Please vote “Yes” this Thursday.
Dalene Foster, Bob Manfreda,
Robert Palmer, Wendy Smith,
and Claudia Stephan
Bethel Board of Finance