November 19, 2017

Bonnie Reemsnyder (D): Candidate (Incumbent) for Old Lyme First Selectwoman

Biography

Bonnie Reemsnyder

Bonnie was elected to the Board of Selectmen in 2003, and First Selectman in 2011. Her priorities have included prudent fiscal planning for future maintenance on our buildings and roads, customer service, regional opportunities, and collaboration.

Over the past six years, she has overseen the completion of the landfill closure, repairs to Rogers Lake Dam & Academy Lane Fire Dock, Hartford Avenue improvements, the Boathouse project, and the derailing of the FRA bypass plan. She looks forward to continuing the work on Improvements to Halls Road and thoughtful economic development in keeping with the character of our community.

Q1: Why are you running?

As First Selectman for six years, and eight years as Selectman, I am pleased to boast several accomplishments, including completion of projects that were pending before I took office, such as the Rogers Lake Dam and the Academy Lane Fire Dock, as well as initiatives such as the improvements on Hartford Avenue, funded with 80% grant money, to the benefit of our taxpayers. LED lights are being installed, saving electricity and money, and funds are set aside for future road improvements and building maintenance. Equally important is my representation for the people of Old Lyme, and the impact I can have on change at the state and federal level. The defeat of the plan for high speed rail is one example of the importance of this office in defending our community. And others can be assured that they have an advocate as well. With the new state budget, many of our needy citizens are worried because the state did not fund the Renter’s Rebate program. I have spent the last two days communicating with our State Senator to resolve this problem, knowing how devastating these cuts are for those who have already applied, and qualified, for the program. I am determined to make sure that the program is funded, and that checks be issued for these residents. As First Selectman, I understand the need for advocacy for all of our residents in Old Lyme, and I look forward to continuing to be that voice for the people.

Q2: What are the three most significant issues that Old Lyme is currently facing?

For the past several years, the Town and WPCA have been working to address the need for sewers in our densely populated beach areas. As three private beach associations approved the installation of sewers in their associations, the Town researched a local solution for all, which ultimately wasn’t feasible. In the end, the WPCA submitted a plan that would provide sewers in the Sound View Area, with continued monitoring in the Hawks Nest Beach Area, in an effort to collect meaningful data to determine the need.

In addition, the need for robust police services during our busy summer months has been a challenge. As a resident trooper town, we have limited resources with an increased demand for 10-12 weeks out of the year. Balancing the need with the resources is something that we must address, while being mindful of overall budgeting. A committee should be appointed to review options.

Finally, the concerns about the fiscal health of our state is not resolved with the recent approval of a budget for this fiscal year. We still face future deficits and potential “new” revenue grabs from the state, the likes of which we have never seen in the past. In one iteration of a proposed budget, the state would have imposed a 5 mill tax on recreational and seasonal homes! That was outrageous, and I vehemently opposed even the suggestion of the state imposing any mill rate to generate more revenue. The future bears watching when it comes to the state budget.

Q3: With reference to your Question 2 response, which issue of the three is the greatest and how do you envisage dealing with it?

The biggest challenge we are faced with over the next several years is the state of our state, and the impact of that on our community. With the state threatening to impose their responsibilities on to the towns, such as the Teacher’s Retirement, AND taking away the funding to the towns, we could see dramatic increases to the mill rate. The leaders of Old Lyme have been good stewards for the taxpayers – planning ahead when possible, maintaining the assets we already have, and always looking for potential savings. Our schools are excellent, our tax base is reasonable and Old Lyme is a desirable place to live. To maintain this, we need to make sure that we are heard at the state level, but we also need to look for efficiencies where it makes sense. There are many regional services we already enjoy: our school district, Probate Court, emergency dispatch, Senior Center, and even police services as a resident trooper town. If more efficiencies might be found by working together where it makes sense, we need to be willing to have the discussion. I will continue to look for those efficiencies that result in enhanced services and cost savings. In addition, I will advocate for improvements to Halls Road to provide enhanced safety, support the businesses that are already there, and create a more vibrant Main Street.  I look forward to continuing to serve all the people of Old Lyme.

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