First Selectman Herbst budget message indicates an 8.6% increase in debt service due to five-year capital projects decided upon by prior decision makers. His own five years capital projects are as healthy as those of the past administration. As we all know, the preponderance of these capital projects is a function of the school building projects and sewer infrastructure expansion. Mr. Herbst and this administration’s decision makers have decided to further add to the debt service issue by moving items previously included in the capital operating budget to the capital projects financed through bonding.
Trumbull uses an internal fund process inside of its operating budget to finance the purchase of vehicles and other fixed assets over more than one budget year. Police cars purchased in year one will be paid by taxes levied over the next few years. Similarly, EMS emergency vehicles, Public Works trucks, Park and Recreation lawn mowers, etc. are financed in this manner. The current administration, in their quest to manage expenditures, has moved these capital expenditures from the operating budget and placed them in bonded capital projects.
At September 7, 2012, the town issued Notes of $17,426,000 with the proceeds to be used to finance various sewer, school and public work projects. Only $5,036,000 is designated to H.S. like new and sanitary sewers projects. The remaining $12,390,000 proceeds will finance capital plan projects for fiscal years 2012 and 2013.
This administration has opted to strain future budgets with fiscal year 2012 and 2013 projects. In addition, there is no real capital spending in the fiscal year 2014 proposed operating budget. This suggests that borrowing will go even higher if the five year capital plan has any validity. In addition, Mr. Herbst has reduced the IT department fiscal year 2014 budget request by $247,950; again suggesting a technology bond. How much of the BOE cuts will end up in additional bonding?
The five-year capital plan proposes repaving roads at 8 miles per year. The 200 miles of Town roads will be resurfaced every 25 years. Why would any of the cost be bonded? Repaving a road maintains the road; it does not extend the life of the road. Our homes are built on these roads. The town’s taxpayers deserve a maintained infrastructure. The operating budget recognizes salaries to repave roads but not the materials and supplies. If police cars are in the operating budget, why not snow plows and dump trucks?
We should expect our leaders to do what is right to for its citizens. Of course there are very difficult decisions to be made about spending. To move operating spending to finance borrowing is artificially managing the Town’s mill rate. It will only make future budgets processes more troublesome for the next decision makers.
44 Bull Frog Lane