We've heard so much from the local Trumbull Republicans since they were swept into office in November 2009 with their promises of reining in tax increases and fiscally conservative policies. But I don't know how any objective observer on either side of the political aisle could say that the most recent budget adopted by Tim Herbst and the Republicans was austere or conservative. Indeed, it increased town spending by 4.52%, and added several brand new and high paying jobs to the budget. It seems like only yesterday when Mr. Herbst was saying "the party's over." But if you take a look at your most recent tax bill and see the new spending going on in Town Hall, you might believe that the party is just getting started.
If you haven't opened up your mail yet, brace yourself when you look at your car tax bill(s). The first thing you will notice is that the tax bill comes in a separate envelope for each car in your driveway. We are now in 2012. Can we find a way to send only one envelope per household with all the tax bills in it? A separate envelope and separate postage for each vehicle is a complete waste of taxpayer money.
We have a 2006 Volkswagen Jetta with an automatic transmission, and a 2009 Volkswagen Jetta with a standard transmission. Yes, we like Jettas. Last year, the property tax on both vehicles was $650.76. This year, the tax bill is $799.68. That's an increase of $149, or a staggering 23% increase! And both of our cars are a year older than last year, and worth less!
What happened to austere government? What happened to fiscally conservative policies? I did some research and found that Mr. Herbst has added over 10 full-time equivalent positions to the town side of the government in just the last three years. This past year, we added a new Director of Economic Development Postion at $95,000, plus lucrative benefits, when the previous person was a contract position and made $80,000 with NO benefits. We also added a new Director of Planning at $85,000 with full lucrative benefits. I was stunned to find out that the new Director of Planning is also in a union, and if she works overtime or has to come back at night for a town meeting, we have to pay her travel, overtime, and compensatory time. Wow.
I continued to do research and I found out that Tim Herbst and the Republicans have raised the mill rate from 25.00 to 30.71 in one year. That's a 22.8% increase, the LARGEST percentage increase in the millrate since 1958! And the 30.71 mill rate is the HIGHEST mill rate Trumbull has had since 1989! Thank you Tim Herbst and the Trumbull Republicans.
And I am still wondering what Trumbull families are getting for their tax dollars. Are the schools better? No! We've had a long list of cuts to many items in the school budget. Indeed, Mr. Herbst and the Trumbull Republicans have increased town spending by 9.7% in three years....but the priority has NOT been education. Education received an increase of 7.7% over three years, which was not enough to maintain the status quo. But the town side of the government was bestowed a 12.6% increase in spending. But even with the amount of taxpayers dollars Herbst has pumped into creating a bigger town goverment, do we have more teachers? No. Do we have more police officers on the street? No. Are we paving more town roads? No.
Are we better off now than we were in 2009? Absolutely NO.
In the coming days, you will likely hear that while car taxes went up by a staggering 23%, many homes got a tax cut. Well, I did some research on that, too. Some homes in Trumbull are getting a tax INCREASE of 10%! So those homes are getting a double hit on their homes and their cars. And while many homes will pay less taxes than they did a year ago, the value of those homes went DOWN by an average of 21% in the last reassessment. Trumbull is now taking a bigger percentage of the value of homes than at anytime since 1989!
When the town increases spending by 4.52%, only a fool would believe that taxes are going down....that makes no sense at all, and in fact, it's not happening. Trumbull residents deserve straight talk when it comes to both taxing AND spending. I suggest that anyone who is upset when they open their tax bills today do the research themselves, and arrive at your own conclusions. In the meantime, I no longer rely on what Tim Herbst and the Republicans SAY, I watch what they DO.
My best wishes to everyone for a happy and safe Fourth of July Holiday!