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Connecticut Budget Deficit Raises Questions with Trumbull Council

The grant is the first step toward a cooperative agreement with Bridgeport, Easton, Fairfield, Stratford and Monroe.

Flood insurance premiums for Trumbull residents will decrease and the town will receive technology including smart boards and iPads with approval to participate in a state program funded by a $1.6 million grant.

Five other towns will also be asked to participate: Bridgeport, Easton, Fairfield, Stratford and Monroe. They have not voted yet.

The Trumbull Town Council approved the resolution 14-5. Voting against it were members Jeff Jenkins, Chadwick Ciocci, David Pia, Kristy Waizenegger (republicans) and John DelVecchio, a democrat.

Brian Bidolli, executive director of the Greater Bridgeport Regional Planning Agency, said the insurance discount will range from five percent to 45 percent. The grant money was raised from taxes on rental cars and hotels.

"The town has a great Geographic Information System," Bidolli said. If all accept, the five communities will benefit with reduced-cost technology. If one community refuses to participate, Bidolli said he will ask another.

DelVecchio opened the comments speaking against the resolution. He said he voted against grant money to improve the Rails-to-Trail system, adding that New Jersey consistently refuses federal grants.

Connecticut is broke, and needs to start living within its means, DelVecchio said.

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First Selectman Tim Herbst said storms are the "new normal," and the technology will help deal with storm recovery in terms of cleaning up fallen trees and wires and coordinating crews.

The town has separate dispatching centers for the Police Department, Trumbull EMS and Trumbull fire departments. The town has used magic markers, white boards and paper notes to coordinate past cleanups, Herbst said.

"I understand the concern about living within our means," he said.

The council should approve it "in the interest of public safety," Herbst added. "If we don't take advantage of this, another community will."

"Technology is our best friend. It's our most useful tool," the first selectman said.

Without the grant, the technology would cost each town $300,000.

Ciocci, who opposes grants in principle, said the program would make all taxpayers subsidize flood insurance holders, including those in affluent towns.

Bidolli replied that it would help residents who are struggling to pay their flood insurance premiums.

The council debated whether to send the state a message to curb its spending, but should take grants first. "We can't accept the money and complain they give it away," he said.

But, Waizenegger argued that the money has to come from somewhere, and Connecticut would be borrowing it.

Herbst said he agreed that the state's spending is flawed, but reminded the council that the town gets many grants for roads and education cost sharing.

Martha Jankovic-Mark, who has disagreed with Herbst a lot lately, said she approved of the resolution.

James Meisner called it "money well-spent."

"It sounds like this a very rational use of the money," he said.

Jenkins called the program "very admirable" but said the state's debt burden will be unsustainable in less than eight years. 

kim Schneider January 09, 2013 at 03:02 PM
What % of Trumbul residents have flood insurance? It has to be a very very small number. Please explain how Mr Herbst has the foresight to predict super storms being the "new normal" I would argue that we really can't make that remark yet. Can we use the road grant money to pave Sturbridge Lane. It's been 22 years since the glassphalt experiment and the road is a mess.
louis January 09, 2013 at 03:08 PM
Hey, did everyone know that human services in Connecticut is either corrupt or incompetent (am I the last always to know?) and the chair of the committee is our own Tony Musto. Is there some way you important folks can get him to do his job and slash the budget, so that a frank discussion can commence on what the people need and how to achieve those ends?
louis January 09, 2013 at 03:34 PM
I mean look at the situation with Adam Lanza, he was proscribed some kind of drug after his mental health diagnosis. Clearly the drugs didn't work and or he was misdiagnosed. You see, most people don't realise that psychiatry is still in many ways experimental, and the wrong drugs could have the side effect of causing homicidal tendencies. Our Health and Human Services budget is one of the largest chunks of money we allocate, it is equivalent to federal defense spending in percentages and as I was against Star Wars because it was mainly experimental, and it didn't achieve its goals, I think a re-look at our Human Services budget would be in order as it is too largely experimental in these deficit driven times of deflationary spending
Thomas Tesoro January 09, 2013 at 03:55 PM
This is a rare but nice example of a bi-partisan approach to an issue. Mr. Herbst made a case for the grant and he received support that reached, in my opinion, the right conclusion. This will be good for our Town.
kim Schneider January 09, 2013 at 06:24 PM
Don't doubt that it will be good for Trumbull. Just found the lead paragraph and Mr Herbt's reference to super storms a bit misleading. For those of us that pay an enormous amount of taxes for the priveledge of living here it is hard to read about more spending when my road, paved 22 years ago with an experimental glassphalt, is crumbling away under my feet. And does nothing for the curb appeal of my home.
Joan January 09, 2013 at 06:35 PM
Kudos to Mr. Herbst for getting it right this time!
Jim Flynn January 09, 2013 at 08:07 PM
Jumpin Jehoshaphat, you have no freakin idea what you are talking about. When did you receive your psychiatric degree? Stick to commenting about something that you have an iota of intelligence about.
MAC January 09, 2013 at 09:53 PM
Stop the presses! Joan actually wrote something nice to the FS! I find this article quite lacking in basic information, and the title not at all representative of the supposed substance of what the "Council" was voting on. Other than the great GIS system which Trumbull already purchased for a quarter of a million $$$ (which was not mentioned in this article), I'm not reading here just how getting this grant brings us up to the latest ability to respond to storms etc. Does it entail building a regional facility for "dispatching" emergency responders, and if so--would that be in Trumbull or Bridgeport? Or would existing town facilities and personnel be operating this new system, or whatever one calls it? Would having this save on dispatch personnel and operating costs, or add to them? Would Trumbull and other towns, iow, be subsidizing Bridgeport's expenses?? I see reasons for voting both ways, which was also "bi-partisan" (Mr. Tesoro's word). I agree that the technology may be needed, but also that the state is "broke" and we/the state continuing to offer grants for things that aren't absolute necessities. Any justification on the grounds of "lower flood insurance premiums" for the minority of residents who have or need it is irrelevant!! Another question is why Bridgeport hasn't even voted yet for this? Finch usually has his hand out for everything possible, and THEY are definitely the ones with most to gain with "lower flood insurance premiums."
david pia January 09, 2013 at 10:58 PM
I was on the fence on this issue. From the presentation, Trumbull would receive a smart board and some ipads. These will be useful with our GIS systems during a storm or emergency because emergency responders and our officials can access damages, downed trees and wires...etc. in real time. There is a nominal licensing fee that will be covered, and the research on the project will potentially (I didn't hear any solid guarantees) lower the cost of flood insurance. The grant money will also be used for surrounding towns in regard to brown fields and such. While I am very mindful that Trumbull residents spend a lot of money in taxes, and may not get a very good Return On Investment, I am also mindful that the State is currently in the red, over $400,000,000.00, and over the two year budget period, we are looking at a deficit of over $1.3 billion.
david pia January 09, 2013 at 10:59 PM
This grant equals about $270,000 dollars per town. If the 169 towns in Connecticut would say no to a similar grant, well, there is roughly $45,000,000.00 to be applied to our deficit. Had this been an emergency grant because we were in dire straits due to a building collapsing or something, it would have been a different story and I would have supported it. But as it stood, we will get a smart board and about a dozen ipads, and our state taxes will continue to increase to cover state budget deficits. Two months ago, we accepted $1.8 million in grant money from our Federal government to complete our rails to trails program. While it will be nice to complete the trails, just imagine if every town in America said no thank you to $1.6 million dollars!! Maybe we could lower the $834,000,000.00 A DAY that WE pay in interest on our national debt! Or, maybe the government would just stuff some more pork in some new bills, and we will continue to burden our children and grandchildren!
Jim Flynn January 09, 2013 at 11:16 PM
But every town is not going to say no to Federal government largesse. We paid that money into the federal government. Better send the money back here than to states down south, where unfortunately most of the money that the feds send to states go.
MAC January 10, 2013 at 12:25 AM
David, thank you for posting your well-founded reasons for voting no to this "grant." I agree with you, Kristi, Mr. DelVecchio and the other nay votes, because we simply cannot continue to pile up more and MORE DEBT, on any level of government!! Perhaps you could shed light on answers to some of my questions posted earlier. Also, state "grants" don't usually cover ALL of the costs on any given project. Is this one different, or if not, what portion of the costs would be born by local taxpayers? Is there a company, or companies, that Mr. Bidolli has in mind to sign contracts with for this work/these smart boards etc.? If so their names would be helpful--or would each town be doing their own bidding/contracting?
Jim Flynn January 10, 2013 at 01:05 AM
That money had been granted. It was going to be spent. Trumbull should get its share.
Richard January 10, 2013 at 02:39 AM
I can't believe anyone would think turning away state grant money earmarked for local projects that benefit our town's resources and quality of life is a good thing! What are you going to do if the state moves forward and reforms the Educational Cost Sharing formula? Trumbull may receive an extra 8 million dollars to help reduce the burden of funding public education solely on our local property taxes. Please don't set any precedents and make statements with votes that affect my quality of life, investment in my home, or the system that educates my children. You can use your own social time to bond over how you think we should rely on state and federal grants, not your role on the Town Council.
John Kriz January 10, 2013 at 03:29 AM
gobbledygook, as usual....
Joe Smith January 11, 2013 at 09:36 AM
I heard the THS renovation was discussed at this meeting... Aaron, any chance we'll see an article about the $68 million renovation?
DS January 11, 2013 at 11:18 AM
The drugs you take arent working either !

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