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Increasing Taxes Is Not The Answer

The Republican response to Mayor Jackson’s budget proposal.

 

To the Editor:

It is no surprise that Mayor Scott Jackson is once again proposing a tax hike. The people of Hamden have become numb to the only solution this administration has ever proposed - more taxes and more spending.

I find it interesting that the mayor is attempting to tie a bow on this year’s tax hike by proclaiming it to be “21st century government thinking.” It is not enough that taxes have been hiked every year in recent memory, now the mayor is talking about permanently using this strategy as innovative thinking for the 21st century. Let’s look closer at what this means.

It is apparent that the town is in serious financial trouble when the only positive thing Mayor Jackson can say is that we can avoid bankruptcy. Here is what the New Haven Register reported: “He referred to 11 governmental bankruptcies since 2010 and said Hamden can avoid that fate … bankruptcy or state control carries with it tremendous immediate tax burden for all property owners, and giving up control to someone else is political failure.”

Friends’ positioning the mayor’s proposed budget as the only hope of avoiding bankruptcy is like the mayor saying I have no other solutions to consider, either I tax you to near exhaustion or the state will do it. Since I consider bankruptcy to be political failure, then let me be the one to do it.

Mayor Jackson also said, “it will take time to address the town’s two biggest financial challenges, the small fund balance and the critically underfunded pension plan, which has been underfunded by about $200 million over the decades.”

This statement is a paradox or a self-contradictory statement that at first seems true. The mayor is calling for yet more time to solve a problem that he and past Democratic administrations created over decades. We have run out of time. He simply cannot offer up a solution that will resolve this mess. What is required is a fundamental restructuring of the pension and benefit package that this mayor simply does not have the political will to accomplish.

In the end, he will most likely opt for a bonding package that will heap millions in new debt onto the taxpayer while simultaneously locking the town into a death spiral of ever higher mandatory contributions to an unsustainable pension fund, further increasing the tax burden on Hamden’s residents.

Overall, the mayor’s proposed budget will grow by $11.2M over the previous year. The bulk of the increase will go toward fringe benefits and debt service. Debt service is the interest we pay on money borrowed. Nowhere in the mayor’s proposal have we heard about long term solution to a rapidly deteriorating financial picture.

In the coming weeks and months the Republicans will be contrasting alternatives to the mayor’s tax and spend proposal. On April 5th the Hamden Republican Town Committee is going to begin the work of developing a platform to offer concrete solutions to the status quo. I urge Hamden residents to join the Hamden Republican Party and help bring an end to the one party rule that has hijacked our town.

Please email me at rongam@yahoo.com or call me at 203-281-5512 if you would like more information. Consider coming to the Town Committee meetings the first Thursday of every month at the Miller Senior Center at 7:30 p.m. Working together, we can bring about a vision ofhope for Hamden’s future.

Ron Gambardella 
Hamden Republican Town Committee Chairman.

Chris March 21, 2012 at 09:43 PM
The citizens of this town need to get engaged and enraged,instead of sitting by the side lines.Too many people vote down the party line and never stop to think of the consequences of what they are truly voting for.
Marty March 22, 2012 at 04:14 AM
Very happy to see Ron is taking an active role as RTC chairman. Keep the pressure on Ron! I wish there was a referendum -- then you would see some real budget cutting happening.
Linda C March 22, 2012 at 01:40 PM
Mr Gambardella I agree with you whole heartedly, except for the 2nd to last paragraph. That is where I believe things tend to go south. We have to STOP being either a Democrat or Republican, and just start being Conscientious Hamden Tax Payers. Guiding OUR PAID REPRESENTATIVES to do what the MAJORITY WANTS!! If the average tax payer just looked at their actions instead of party affiliation, then they couldn't help but see, these people aren't at all qualified to deal with the hard problems facing not only this town, but this country as well!! Let's leave out party affiliation for the time being and just address them as strapped Hamden Tax Payers, I think more people would get beyond the Headline to see your point! Sometimes you have to lead them to water and Force them to Drink!!
Ron Gambardella March 22, 2012 at 03:02 PM
HI Linda, You are making a very good point. My hope is that someday we can move beyond partisan politics. With single party domination in Hamden, there is no incentive for the opposing party to meet halfway. The two party system, in theory, represents two philosophical approaches to government. My own personal choice for political affiliation is Republican. My reason for this is that the Republican message has been generally more fiscally conservative. I would love to cast Parisian politics aside so that both parties could reach a mutual understanding toward taxes and spending. So far the other side has been unable or unwilling to do so. Voters who are like minded will need to be more vocal if there is any hope for change. I am open and willing to work toward solutions that benefit the town. I am optimistic that the Republican Party will be able to offer alternatives that achieve this objective. Democrats and Independents are welcome in our meetings as we work toward making this a reality.
George Levinson March 22, 2012 at 04:13 PM
I agree that this is not about Republican or Democrat. I'm a lifelong dem myself but I am apalled at the fiscal irresponsibility of this town. Not every promise can be fullfilled. The town's over commitment to the pension and health care plans must end. I agree with Charles Baltayan that the best solution would be to dissolve the pension fund altogether and convert employee accounts to 401K type. Short of ending the plan, my idea is to make the plan solvent by both infusing half the needed capital and seriously re-negotiating benefits to account for the other half. Employees should share the burden 50/50 by give-backs and assume half of the risk going forward. Let's hope the town fathers of Hamden can work together to solve this problem. The taxpayers simply cannot bear the load and risk of the pension plan and the terribly volatile health care plan.

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