Over a year ago Councilor Albert D. Vecchia, Jr. spearheaded a concerted effort to stem the rising tide of local tax increases.
Monday night’s meeting of the Town Council confirmed his success.
The tax rate was set at $20.21 per thousand dollars of assessed valuation. This was a marginal decline from the prior rate of $20.36.
Before proceeding I want to iterate, congratulations Councilor Vecchia and thank you!
The question that next arises is, “What now?”
Allow me to suggest a broad outline of what is needed.
The fundamental issue is the town budget.
Right now we receive roughly $3 million per year from the town landfill.
The overall town budget is about $49 million.
Of that, $26 million is accounted for by education expenses.
That leaves about $23 million as the budget for the town side.
That means that the landfill comprises about 13% of the total town budget.
I believe that, despite current panic, the landfill will continue to operate until at least 2020. That belief is based upon their desire to expand into property that they already own coupled with the desire of the state to maintain a viable facility in that location.
According to the Town Manager, we will also be receiving about $600,000 per year from solar facilities by at least 2017.
Finally, there is an amount that will also be saved when supervision of the landfill (which is payed for by the landfill account) will no longer be needed and should thus be eliminated from the budget.
I propose that, beginning with the 2017 budget, the Town Council commit itself to reducing the town side of the budget by 2% per year, roughly $460,000. By 2021 that will have resulted in a total reduction of 10%.
At Monday’s meeting the Town Manager said that making up the loss of the Casella money would have to be shared by cost-cutting and tax increases.
To that I say “bullshit”.
For the last seven years the town has spent the Casella money and increased taxes. The town has become the fatted calf and it is time to roast that sucker.
We cannot and should not take the money from the education budget. We are too well aware that has manifest problems with which to deal.
It is time that the local bureaucrats who have had it so good for so long learn the true meaning of “austerity”.
Councilor Vecchia, the ball is in your court.