June 25, 2017

Letter to the Editor: Still Not Seeing Eye to Eye–Bernblum Challenges Hutchinson’s Latest Argument on Town Spending

To the Editor:

In my letter of November 2 to LymeLine I asserted that Nancy Hutchinson’s letter of November 1, in which she argued that a Reemsnyder administration would mean excessive tax increases for Old Lyme, was based on misleading information.  For example, I pointed out as incorrect her statement that “this year we face a 9.8% increase in Town expenditures,” when the actual increase in “Total Expenditures,” as stated in the Town’s budget, is 3.67%.

Mrs. Hutchinson again wrote to LymeLine on November 6 and claimed that her 9.8% statement was correct.  It was not.  As she admits in this letter, she was not referring to total town expenditures, but only the 28% of those expenditures for “Total General Government and Capital Outlay,” omitting the 72% of the budget going to our schools.

Taxes were the subject of Mrs. Hutchinson’s original letter.  They are a function of the entire budget, not 28%.  When Mrs. Hutchinson referred to “a 9.8% increase in Town expenditures,” she made no mention of the fact that she was talking about only a fraction of those expenditures.  The reader was therefore led to believe that the entire town budget went up 9.8% and, therefore, that taxes would likely rise in a similar amount.  She cannot credibly claim that the phrase “Town expenditures” is the same as “Total General Government and Capital Outlay.”  Her 9.8% phrase as written was not accurate and the message it conveyed was clearly misleading.

Sincerely,

Bennett J. Bernblum,
Old Lyme

Editor’s Note: The author is a member of the Old Lyme Board of Finance, the Democratic Town Committee, and the Halls Road Improvement Committee.

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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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Letter to the Editor: Challenging Three Reasons Cited to Support Carter

To the Editor:

Cathy Carter is running against Bonnie Reemsnyder for First Selectwoman in Old Lyme.  Letters in LymeLine have cited three reasons to support Cathy: her education, her experience, and, apparently, her opposition to state involvement in town projects.  I take issue with each of these points.

1.  Cathy took college courses in public management and public administration 25 to 30 years ago.  That’s a long time.  She has apparently never applied her courses in public office, and one cannot go from college degree to CEO with no intervening experience.

2.  Cathy cites no government experience on her LinkedIn page and I could find no relevant experience elsewhere.  She apparently has never held a significant public or private leadership position, nor served on any Old Lyme governmental board, commission or committee.

3.  Our Board of Selectmen has not asked the state or federal government to meddle in our affairs.  It has, however, solicited and been awarded over $3 million in state and federal grants to improve town assets and, therefore, our quality of life.  (These funds come from our tax dollars, which otherwise would be spent elsewhere.)  I do not understand why it would be preferable to forgo these improvements or to finance them  just with Old Lyme taxpayer dollars.

Bonnie Reemsnyder has twelve years of experience as Selectwoman, four of them as the town’s CEO.  Running our town is not easy.  Issues arise regularly and folks always have differing opinions.  Bonnie has done a fine job, and she is willing to continue to serve.  There is no reason to risk a change on November 3.  We must re-elect Bonnie.

Sincerely,

Bennett J. Bernblum,
Old Lyme

Editor’s Note: The author is a Democratic member of the Old Lyme Board of Finance.  He is also a member of the Democratic Town Committee.

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