Letter: Business as usual — not!

To the Editor:

New federal and state budget and tax plans coming down the pike will affect us in more ways than one. Some will benefit, most will not.

In my opinion, Ridgefield's budgets must reflect those realities.

We can’t continue as though it's business as usual with automatic 2-3-4% wage increases. Employee levels must be frozen or reduced. Same for services. Going forward we must hope for additional unencumbered money to continue supporting what we already enjoy.

Union negotiations are tricky especially when one is negotiating with someone else's money but growth must be slowed to reflect reality. We cannot kill the goose that laid the golden egg, our property values.

This year we enjoy $1 million dollars of additional income and we have the comfort of a healthy reserve fund, a prudent measure that helps provide our triple A rating.

And this year the Board of Finance voted to return $1.6 million of that reserve to taxpayers.

With the additional $1 million income and $1.6 million from the reserve, that totals $2.6 million. To me, that means we should not increase our spending by more than $2.6 million in order to stay within our means.

Put it another way, had this been the case, property owners would enjoy some tax relief this year.

Ridgefield has very responsible Boards of Selectmen and Finance that do their best to balance our needs with our wishes against our income.

This year that balance translated into a 1.8% tax increase.

While this was a well-reasoned compromise, I don't believe it's right to increase our operating budgets by more than what we have on hand. This year that would be $2.6 million dollars.

As families we construct budgets based on our incomes. It’s time for Ridgefield to do the same.

Jan Rifkinson