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Trumbull Finance Board Vice Chair: 'Choose Wisely'

Trumbull Board of Finance Vice Chair Paul Lavoie
Trumbull Board of Finance Vice Chair Paul Lavoie

The following is a letter to the editor.

To the Editor: 

Board of Finance candidate Tom Kelly would actually try to have Trumbull taxpayers believe that the Herbst Administration has not provided strong financial leadership for Trumbull.  The average tax increase under the Herbst administration over a four year period has been 1.88 percent - - below inflation.  Under Mr. Herbst’s predecessor, the average annual tax increase was 6 percent.  Mr. Herbst and his team have been able to stabilize taxes while fixing the pension fund and paying down excessive amounts of debt that Mr. Herbst inherited four years ago.  The 17 percent increase in non-education spending that Mr. Kelly references was driven by a 91.63 percent increase in pension contributions and debt service (mainly to pay for the high school renovation, started before Mr. Herbst took office).  Why a large increase in pension contributions?  The Herbst administration decided to solve the problem, rather than kick the can and followed the recommendations of actuaries and all three financial rating agencies.  Mr. Kelly references the mil rate, however, what he fails to explain is that the mil rate increase is the direct result of property revaluation, which is a state mandated process that must occur every five years. As most Trumbull taxpayers know, residential property taxes decreased last year.

As we approach this important election season, it is very important that we select members of our Boards and Commissions that are interested a better Trumbull, not members who seek to attack our First Selectman. It should be highlighted that in 2009, Mr. Kelly was a vocal Republican and very critical about former First Selectman Ray Baldwin.  Since 2009, Mr. Kelly changed his political affiliation five times.  He went from being an Independent, to a Republican, back to an Independent, only to become a Republican again, so he could lead a group called Republicans and Independents for Thornton.  When his candidate lost the election, he then became a Democrat. In 2009, he criticized former First Selectman Ray Baldwin for tax increases that averaged 6 percent, yet as a Democrat Board of Education member, he has voted to increase the Board of Education operating budget 19.55 percent in four years. 

Every Trumbull voter should consider these facts when reading Mr. Kelly’s letters to the editor.  For some reason, Mr. Kelly doesn’t like First Selectman Tim Herbst and it appears that he will go to great lengths to discredit him. Sophisticated taxpayers and voters need to carefully select the next Board of Finance members based on the credentials of the candidates and select Board members that will govern with the best interests of Trumbull in mind, not members that operate by attacking our leaders in the press.

Paul Lavoie, Vice Chairman

Board of Finance

Thomas Tesoro August 22, 2013 at 08:29 AM
I urge Mr. LaVoie and everyone else to stop saying the pension fund is fixed. IT IS NOT FIXED and it dangerous to have the public think it is. Our Town Funding Ratio that should be 100 per cent was actually between 32 % or 40 % funded. That is dangerously low. The Police funding ratio is between 60% and 70%, also seriously low. While we are making the ARC (actuarially recommended contribution) for the Town Pension we ARE NOT doing so for the police pension. Finally, touting negotiated contracts that eliminate the "defined benefit plans" in favor of a "defined contribution plan" will over time lead to the same issues we now face in private industry, that is, the most expensive workers working longer. Consider if you will a 70 year old police officer chasing a 20 uyear old criminal. The better way would have been some hybrid program. There are many other issues that I disagree with in this letter, such as "stable taxes" achieved with bonding of operational items and raiding the town piggy bank to keep the tax rate artificially low to mask spending. Also, the mil rate this year as set by the FS is as phoney as a three dollar bill. However, the pension issue is too important to become a victim of election year hyperbole. Tom Tesoro Elected member, Board of Finance.
JR August 22, 2013 at 03:42 PM
If Ray Baldwin overtaxed the citizens of Trumbull, why haven't we seen a reduction in taxes under the current administration? Oh, and your math with relation to the mil rate and revaluation needs some work.
trumbullguy August 22, 2013 at 09:05 PM
JR, nominal tax increases under the current rate of inflation are in fact real reductions. That is simple economic understanding.
Tom Kelly August 23, 2013 at 07:22 AM
Trumbullguy, I urge you to look at town spending, which has grown by approximately 3.36% per year under Mr. Herbst, as opposed to a quoted tax increase percentage. The 1.88% cited is a political sound bite. First, not all homes in Trumbull had a property tax decrease after the revaluation. Some homes in Trumbull experienced an increase, so that 1.88% does NOT apply to them. Second, that convenient sound bite is just for houses, and doesn't reflect the 25% increase in car taxes in the last two years. That's right, 25%. I know that two years ago when Mr. Herbst was proclaiming a tax cut two years ago, the increase in my car taxes completely wiped out the small decrease in my house tax, and I had the same two cars as I had the year before. As for the pension plan, here is something that is NEVER discussed and it's VERY IMPORTANT. Mr. Herbst talks on and on about how he's put more money into the pension fund....he will quote the exact percentage increase that he's put in...but he never talks about the PERFORMANCE of our pension fund. This is common sense. If you or I put more money into the stock market or a mutual fund, but the investments we picked didn't do well, we are not better off. What Mr. Herbst NEVER tells Trumbull voters is that the pension fund is LESS fully funded the last time it was officially measured in 2012 than it was in 2008. How can that be? The stock market nearly doubled during that time period. When we evaluate the Herbst record on pensions, we need to look not only at contributions, but PERFORMANCE.

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