RTM says tolls not a town discussion

April 9, 2019

.GREENWICH — Members of the Representative Town Meeting disagree on tolls, but 101 of them agree on this: The discussion does not belong in the Central Middle School auditorium.

The RTM voted to postpone indefinitely on a Sense of the Meeting Resolution proposed last month declaring that the voting body is “opposed to the imposition of tolls on its residents” and calling on the town’s elected representatives to “oppose any measure that would impose tolls on our constituents.” The final tally was 101 for postponing, 89 against it, and one abstaining.

Almost 50 people spoke during the RTM meeting Monday night, but Moderator Tom Byrne congratulated speakers for keeping their remarks, which clocked in at one-and-a-half hours, succinct.

When Lucy Krasnor, a 41-year RTM member and District 5 Representatice, saw the SOMR on the call, she was surprised.

“We should not put state or federal issues on the call,” Krasnor said. “Our RTM has been non-partisan and I hope it can remain non-partisan.”

District 12 Representative Mary Flynn said members should put the “T” for “Town” back in RTM.

And former Democratic candidate for state representative Laura Kostin’s district of town does not appear to be outraged of tolls, since she has received one email for and one against, the resolution.

“It is not for any outside group to tell us what are votes are and are not for,” Kostin said.

The resolution was initiated by town resident Laura Gladstone, who said she wanted to send a message to Gov. Ned Lamont and state Sen. Alexandra Bergstein, D-36, both of whom support tolls and are Greenwich residents. Twenty registered voters requested that the RTM act on a resolution opposing tolls.

“If Governor Lamont hears from (one of) the largest (towns) in the state that they are upset that he went back on his campaign promise of tolling only trucks, maybe he will listen to all of his constituents that the majority of people in Connecticut are against tolls,” Gladstone said in March.

Gladstone, co-founder of a citizens group called Fiscal Freedom for CT, collected 20 signatures, including those of state Rep. Fred Camillo, R-151, and former state Sen. L. Scott Frantz, who represented the 36th District for 10 years before losing his reelection last year to Bergstein.

Bergstein, the first Democrat elected to represent all of Greenwich and some of Stamford and New Canaan, made tolls a centerpiece of her campaign.

She proposed legislation returning electronic tolls to the state’s major highways soon after being sworn in, blaming the poor condition of Connecticut’s infrastructure on underinvestment and mismanagement of public funds.

Her bill, SB 102, has been referred to the Legislature’s Joint Committee on Transportation and is one of several being considered.

The Greenwich delegation to Hartford is split on the issue, with Camillo and state Rep. Livvy Floren, both Republicans, opposed to tolls and Bergstein and state Rep. Stephen Meskers, Democrats, in favor of them.