Letter: Support for Budgets

To the Editor:

Why We Voted for the Proposed Budget

Weston residents have a voice in our annual budget process and should be well informed when they walk into the Annual Town Budget Meeting tomorrow night [April 24] and then cast their votes at the referendum.

The proposed budget took many months and thousands of hours of professional time to prepare. There have been many public meetings and voluminous presentations that have transparently explained the process that led up to this important town decision.

There has been some misinformation regarding the proposed FY25 town budget that has been conveyed ahead of the ATBM on April 24. We would like to set the record straight on a few of the important facts regarding the proposed budget.

Important Facts Regarding the Proposed FY25 Budget

  • The Board of Finance approved an overall budget DECREASE of 0.26%. The overall town of Weston proposed budget is NOT increasing for FY25.
  • The overall mill rate for Weston is NOT increasing this year, in fact the proposed mill rate is 23.81 (down from 33.06), resulting from the combination of the proposed budget decrease and the property revaluation.
  • Approximately $2,100,000 of debt service relief has been re-allocated to critical capital needs and essential services in the proposed budget.
  • The Town Operating Budget ($16,063,078) is used to run all of town government functions and is proposed to increase by $693,522 (4.51% vs 2023/24 budget) NOT 8.4% as some have conveyed in various forums. Additionally, The Town Operating Budget is only 21% of the overall town budget.
  • Approximately 50% of taxpayers will see a reduction in their overall taxes (property and car) for FY25.

The role of municipal government is to ensure the safety and well-being of our community, as well as enhance the lives of our residents through the delivery of essential services.

The primary function of our town boards is to collaborate in order to prioritize and allocate resources to critical needs of town governance, education, and long-term development. Our focus is always on addressing the diverse needs of our residents, young and old, new families and lifelong Westonites.

The FY25 budget serves as a prime example of how our combined boards have effectively tackled long-standing town needs, such as town infrastructure and facilities, safety initiatives, community development, employee welfare, and education. Moreover, this budget has resulted in an overall reduction in town expenditures for FY25.

Our policy priorities revolve around infrastructure improvement, safety enhancement, employee welfare, educational advancement, and meeting the needs of our community.

The proposed budget clearly outlines our town’s policy priorities and essential needs. The backbone of Weston’s services lies in its dedicated employees and critical functions. Over the past few years, the workload on our town staff has significantly increased.

This budget addresses our pressing staffing needs, while also ensuring compliance with OSHA regulations and providing appropriate oversight for our town employees. Additionally, public safety remains a top concern in the proposed town budget, with provisions for a new fire truck, EMS and police equipment, as well as sidewalks.

Furthermore, we had to make difficult decisions regarding temporary workspaces for our employees. The current Annex has far exceeded its useful life and poses safety risks. The proposed replacement Annex will provide our employees with secure and suitable working quarters.

Additionally, the relocation of the Parks and Recreation Department to the new Annex will enable us to explore the possibility of developing the current department property as commercial space in the Village District, which will generate future revenue for the town.

Striving for a better Weston that meets our expectations

Our town enjoys a AAA credit rating with Moody’s and is widely regarded as one of the best managed municipalities in all of Connecticut. You need look no further than the $1 billion growth in the value of our property in the last five years in support of that statement. Additionally, new families continue to choose Weston as the ideal place to raise a family.

The approved Town budget as presented, is part of a comprehensive plan to rise to the occasion and meet the needs of our residents. This plan involves prudent investments in a thriving and expanding Weston, addressing our deteriorating infrastructure, and better serving the community by addressing human resource and departmental requirements. All of this will be accomplished while minimizing the impact on residents’ taxes.

While there are those who advocate for a “how low can we go” and “reduce and defer” approach, we firmly believe that our budget priorities should revolve around realizing a better Weston that lives up to our expectations while keeping taxes affordable. The proposed FY25 budget accomplishes precisely that!

Tony Pesco, Second Selectman
Chris Bryant, Board of Finance
Amy Gare, Board of Finance
Jeff Goldstein, Board of Finance

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