August 19, 2017

Letter to the Editor: Writer Rebuts Letter Suggesting Reemsnyder Overspends, Says First Selectwoman Controls Expenses

To the Editor:

In Nancy Hutchinson’s letter to LymeLine yesterday, she advises readers, in typical scare tactics, that they should vote for the Republican candidate for First Selectman because re-electing Bonnie Reemsnyder will “result in further financial hardship to hard-working and retired taxpayers.”  Nothing could be further from the truth.  Bonnie’s administration has been scrupulously careful to avoid any unnecessary tax increases, working in tandem with the Republican-controlled Board of Finance.  Four of the Board’s six members are Republicans.  Two of them serve on the Republican Town Committee, and one Republican alternate is that Committee’s chairman!  The RTC’s campaign literature asks voters to “Maintain the excellent record of cost control by the Board of Finance.”

Mrs. Hutchinson attempts to support her claims with misleading generalizations.  Capital projects, and their costs, evolve as projects develop.  Under Mrs. Reemsnyder’s administration, however, they have been kept within tight financial controls, massively subsidized by state and federal grants.  The Boathouse/Hains Park Project was approved by Old Lyme voters at $883,000 but is now expected to cost $600,000, $478,000 coming from a STEAP grant.  The Sound View improvements project was reconfigured at an estimated cost of $751,000,  $601,000 coming from a federal grant.  The $108,000 of over-budget expenses for the wastewater study commissioned by the WPCA were incurred by the engineers in violation of the terms of their contract and are likely to be paid by Clean Water funds and from bonds to be repaid by the users, not the taxpayers.

It is also true that town expenses, and budgets, vary with the circumstances.  The 2015-16 town budget, which was carefully developed by the Boards of Finance and Selectmen, protects a 3.67% increase in total expenditures, not 9.8% as asserted by Mrs. Hutchinson.  The mill rate increase of 4.88% reflects, in large part, a decrease in the town’s grand list of 3%.  The increase in projected tax revenue is only 1.65%.   Finally, the Board of Finance’s decision to use $600,000 from the town’s accumulated surplus to fund $400,000 of road improvements and $200,000 for removal of gas tanks at the town garage was made possible because, under Bonnie’s leadership, the surplus has grown and, therefore, is available for exactly this kind of purpose–one-time, unexpected, capital expenses.

Please, voters, do not be misled.  Come out to vote tomorrow for Bonnie and Mary Jo.

Sincerely,

Bennett J. Bernblum,
Old Lyme

Editor’s Note: The author is a member of the Old Lyme Board of Finance, running for re-election. He is also a member of the Old Lyme Democratic Town Committee.  He has recently been appointed to the Halls Road Improvements Committee.

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