About Town: White

Snow is a four-letter word.

It looks pretty when viewed from indoors. However, white stuff clinging to branches can often portend power outages. As can a windstorm, such as the one we had recently that left two-thirds of the homes in Weston without power. Giving us the distinction of being No. 1 in number of outages among all towns and cities in Connecticut.

Of particular note during that storm was how two trees collaborated to bring down access to School Road, at both ends. Ideas have been proposed over the years that would provide a third means of access, via the Department of Public Works facility on Old Hyde Road. But that would have involved crossing a wetland. Should this idea be revisited, nevertheless?

Speaking of power outages, Weston is in good company. More than 100 towns are fighting the latest power grab proposed by the governor, involving various redesigns of state aid for education.

Given the state’s financial woes, some sort of a rescue plan seems inevitable. But how to do it is the big question. In a previous column, I had suggested it might take the form of a statewide across-the-board 2% tax added to the mill rate, with the proceeds to go toward education. In any event, unless someone wins a Powerball jackpot or two on behalf of the state, or a large gold mine or oilfield is discovered within Connecticut’s borders, we will all have to pony up.

Because, as I have mentioned before, the state cannot declare Chapter 9 bankruptcy, as towns and cities can. Unlike the federal government, it can’t print money.

But actually, the discussion at the Board of Finance review of town and school budgets last week was somewhat comforting. There was a sense of frustration, yet resolve. How to make these negative externalities, that being a word often used in courses dealing with municipal finances, work for us?

First Selectman Nina Daniel noted that it will be a few more years until payments for existing school bonding disappear. So buckle up, Weston. To paraphrase a late famed actress and former Westonite, “It’s going to be a bumpy ride!”

Cut

Another movie-related reference might be the definition of the term “cut.”  As either a noun or a verb, it hurts.

Some synonyms are trim, snip, clip, crop, barber, shear, shave. How about gash, slash, lacerate, sever, slit, pierce, penetrate, wound, or injure? Or fiscally castrate, which is what the governor appears to be suggesting when it comes to small towns across Connecticut.

We live in a democracy of sorts, but not what is referred to as a social democracy. At least not yet. What Connecticut seems to be headed toward is just that, however. In his budget address, I listened as Gov. Malloy indicated that mill rates should be 35 for every town and city.

Weston has something going for it —  “Home Rule” is what it is called. As long as we control our own destiny under our own Town Charter, we have the opportunity to make our own decisions.

NOTE: “About Town” is also a television program. It appears on Fridays and Sundays at 5:30 p.m. on Cablevision Channel 88 (Public Access). Or see it at aboutweston.com.

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