On Tuesday, New London goes to the polls to decide the fate of our latest budget and proposed tax increase. Personally, I plan to vote no, and here's why:
The published, proposed budget lacks several important bits of information to allow for a comprehensive analysis of our financial situation. When I purchased my home, I knew my interest rate, loan terms and down payment amount. I read the fine print. Before signing on any dotted line, I asked question after question and made certain, to the best of my responsible ability, to know exactly what we agreed to and to avoid any avoidable pitfalls. This budget fails to provide, for example, details on debt service or fines and penalties. Both stand as significant line items and both remain unexplained. Councillors and the general public requested this information but received nothing concrete. Voting on assumptions and guesses, much like blindly signing on to buy a home or a car or take a job without complete information, is irresponsible.
Mayor Finizio declares this budget "bare bones". In our household, times are tight. We take daily measures, sometimes involving difficult decisions, to ensure our fiscal solvency. Why should New London city departments be held to a different standard? Essentially, our Mayor proposes slashing funding to Parks and Recreation by half, but not cutting more from his own, overstaffed department. Simply stating the budget requires no further trimming doesn't make it so. Rather than attempted scare tactics of closed senior centers and bi-weekly trash pickup (a change only possible by a charter revision), why not pick some lower lying fruit, like expensive car allowances or review employee expense reports, for example.
A common theme surrounding this referendum, often spoken by Mayor Finizio himself, is that a past mismanagement of money by former city councils created such dire straits and the city must take swift action now. The fact checking jury is still out on that statement, but how does a failure to plan on the city's part suddenly create an involuntary financial emergency for me? Let me put it another way; if I fail to pay a bill, do I make my children fork over the late payment? Of course not. I make a mistake, and, as the responsible adult, I suffer the consequences rather than passing it along to others.
As a resident of New London for over a decade, a property owner, someone who works in New London, and a proud parent of 2 children who attend New London public schools, this vote severely impacts my life, my livelihood, and possibly my ability to maintain residence in a city I've come to love and call home. Making the most informed decision means nothing is left to chance or assumption. Accountability and transparency should be the order of the day, and always in New London. Vote NO for the referendum on September 18th.