About Town: Cake

“Let them eat cake” is a classic line from history. So it was amusing to hear the Town Manager of Ellington, speaking at the invitation of the Connecticut Conference of Municipalities (C.C.M.) at a Capitol press conference, use it to describe the Governor’s plans regarding how to raise $400 million.

What’s wrong with this plan, especially if you are from Weston?

The problem was described by almost every one of the speakers. It simply can’t be afforded. The example given by Ellington was that its town taxes would have to double in order to pay for the plan, as it has been explained by the Connecticut Office of Policy and Management (O.P.M.). Or as I like to call it, the “Office of Pickpockets and Mendacity.”

We in Weston are in the state’s crosshairs. And the erosion of trust in state budget numbers that has evolved in recent years as forecasts have continually proven to be optimistic is further compounded by the approach of an Election Day. Any town leader who says “don’t worry” isn’t telling the truth.

One cause for concern is that the plan appears likely to make regional Councils of Governments more powerful, to the detriment of local government. Another concern is that towns may have to pick up some of the costs of burdensome union contracts made by the state. Will towns get to rip up the state’s union contracts and make better deals if they have to pick up some of the costs? Don’t bet on it.

It is often forgotten that retirement payments for public school teachers in Connecticut are in lieu of Social Security. An agreement dating back more than half a century provided retirement benefits from the state in exchange for Social Security not being deducted from teachers’ pay.  Both teachers and the state were supposed to pay into the plan.

Are you surprised to hear that the State of Connecticut can’t seem to come through with its share?

Dogs

This Saturday, Sept. 9 at 10:30 a.m. in the Weston High School cafeteria, is the selectmen’s Public Hearing on a proposal to build a dog park. I don’t know about you, but I couldn’t be more impressed by the related information posted on the town website for our review.

I’ve wondered at times during my 37 years in Weston how serious the town has been about “land banking,” which refers to reserving land for future use. At a well-attended Special Town Meeting on Jan. 9, 2003, the town took decisive action to purchase and protect two important parcels from development — the Fromson-Strassler property, and the Moore property.

The League of Women Voters of Weston tried unsuccessfully to get a secret ballot for the two items in the “call.” In the end, though, after many speakers had taken to the microphones on both sides of the Fromson-Strassler issue a standing count vote was not close. And the Moore property sailed through. Now, 14 years later, the result is Saturday’s opportunity for the public to testify for or against use of the latter property by our canine residents.

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 www.aboutweston.com.

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