Letter: Town must develop zero-based budget

To the Editor:

“It’ll be hard, tough — ‘devastating,’” a couple of school officials called it — but the state’s 2.5% cap on municipal spending increases is a limit officials at the tri-board meeting said Ridgefield should stay under … that’ll help keep taxes down.

And now the state wants to shift a portion of the teachers’ pension cost from the state to the towns.

That’s the way this year’s budget process began. It was certainly an important wake-up call.

While I appreciate the board members who spend hours on budgeting, most years the bottom line is aided by pulling a rabbit out of a hat. This year, “revenues exceeded budget by $1,460,000, due largely to collection of back taxes,” [BOF Chairman] Ulmer said."

But it is my opinion that going forward, we must develop zero-based budgets without rabbits because, eventually, they will go the way of the dinosaur and taxes will definitely soar.

[BOE] Ms. Baldwin drew a line with three supervisors. Mr. Hendrickson purportedly put $120,000 in the wrong budget column and Ms. Manners is “… offended every year by the [BOF] who feel that they have to cut us.”

  1. So everyone played their role in this annual drama.

I have long argued that Ridgefield should develop budgets and subsequent mill rates that are not subsidized by transfers from the surplus fund.

Otherwise there will come a day when we will lose some services we currently enjoy or taxes will rise to a level that will limit the real estate market only to the wealthier amongst us.

Other Fairfield County towns have fine school systems but many of you, young families, can’t afford to live there which is why you chose Ridgefield. Our real estate prices and taxes remain affordable and we have a fine school system.

Please, let’s keep it that way.

Jan Rifkinson

New Road, May 1