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Martha Mark: Don't Bond School-Related Items

Mark is a Town Councilwoman.

My Fellow Trumbull Residents,

As the Democratic Minority Leader of the Trumbull Town Council, I wish to inform you how the Council concluded the budget process this year with our vote on April 10, 2013.  For the first time in the eight years I’ve been on the Council, the First Selectman was not present for our annual budget vote meeting to answer questions.  As you can see on the video, which is available for viewing on Channel 17 each evening at 6:30PM through Thursday 4/25/13, I had quite a few questions which could not be answered at our meeting because of Mr. Herbst’s absence, the answers to which could have clarified the rationale for certain increases in expenses in our budget.

As a volunteer, I put in a lot of time into attending meetings, studying meeting minutes, and contacting town employees for details, working up to the last minute in order to prepare for this budget vote.  Some of the other Council members do the same, although some did not even pick up their budget books prior to the meeting, yet they still vote.  You also should know that most of the Council Republicans did not support the cuts to the budget which I proposed.  Please understand that due to the real estate revaluation a few years ago, a greater portion of the tax burden has been placed on commercial real estate property owners in Trumbull, decreasing the tax burden of the residential real estate property owners.

However, actual town expenses have soared dramatically upwards over the past four budgets.  Should a future revaluation shift the burden back to residential properties, we could see a substantial tax increase to residential real estate property owners, even if expenses did not increase; and expenses tend to increase, not decrease.  Our future is not looking bright, due to the past four years’ increased expenses.

The night after our budget vote, the Town Council and the Board of Finance held a joint meeting to discuss whether to bond three groups of items, including school security expenses, the football field turf maintenance, and technology equipment for the schools.  I believe that all of these items should have been included in the budget, rather than putting off these expenses, plus interest, into the future, and attempting to make the current budget increase appear smaller than the actual spending increase. 

Martha Jankovic Mark, Town Council

TrumbullSr April 26, 2013 at 11:49 AM
We in the profession used to have a name for these type of machinations, "Psychedelic Accounting". It may look pretty at the time but when reality takes hold it hurts.
Steven Castro April 26, 2013 at 07:29 PM
It is unfortunate that the people of Trumbull are not taking notice to what's happening here. Bonding operating expenditures have become the norm and most of our elected officials are along for the ride. Mr. Rutigliano keeps posting objections to the State budget and votes for Herbst/Ponzio contrived budgets. Future budgets will be impacted by higher and higher debt service.
Tom Kelly April 26, 2013 at 09:45 PM
Steven, you are exactly correct. The local Republicans have employed the SAME EXACT budget gimmicks to the town's budget as they have criticized the Democrats for in Hartford. You can't maintain credibility if you criticize these budget manuevers in Hartford and employ them in Trumbull. Look at the amount and the scope of the things that have been bonded in Trumbull over the past few years, and you can see that it is artificially lowering the tax rate, but we will pay the price in the future. In our own family budgets, we all know that we can lower our monthly payments by paying over time and paying the minimum amounts due on our credit card statement, but in the long run, the cost is much more. The same shenanigans are going on here, in my opinion.
Richard April 27, 2013 at 02:38 AM
Dumb it down Martha since the public has the attention span of infants and many of them can't read in between the lines. But, yes, this is very hypocritical of those who bash the state and federal government like David Rutigliano in a press release, but can't hold his own local party accountable. This is where politicians are a major part of blocking solutions to problems. You just need to write factual letters that reach the average, distracted, uniformed citizen and borrows a style trick or two from the opposition.
Joan April 27, 2013 at 03:16 AM
Is anyone else appalled at the statement that some of the rubber stampers on our Town Council don't even bother to study their budget books before voting on the budget? I know they are volunteers, but if they are going to seek a position on our Town Council, they should be more faithful in fulfilling the responsibilities that entails.

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