How to Lower Taxes in 1 Easy Step

10Oct13
Preferred Method

Preferred Method

It sounds simple doesn’t it? The truth is that it is that simple. Your vote indicates your endorsement or rejection of the status quo and your belief in a plan for the future. That’s why we have elections. On November 5th, which is less than a month from now, we get to see how a majority (OK, fine, a plurality.) of us have decided. What is important is that we don’t become distracted by events that are irrelevant to the decision we have to make. And make no mistake, there are plenty of distractions.

Because it is a “local” election, many Stratford voters will yawn and find something else to do on November 5th. But that is exactly how we got stuck with a “strong” mayor and an impotent Council.

The vote on November 5th will determine what your mortgage and rent payments will be for the next four years. That’s pretty important. The prevalent belief is that Harkins will win in a walk. Why? Mostly because he didn’t try to blow up Town Hall like Miron did. But we are entitled to better than that. Most importantly we are entitled to hear a plan. To be fair, we have not heard a plan from any candidate to date. Rude audiences and lot’s of lawn signs do not constitute a plan.

To the candidates: Don’t bother telling us what you claim to have done. What voters want to know is what you will do. If you can’t tell us that, you do not deserve our vote.

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27 Responses to “How to Lower Taxes in 1 Easy Step”

  1. 1 mikereynolds

    “The vote on November 5th will determine what your mortgage and rent payments will be for the next four years.”

    I’m confused by your statement. To me, it implies that if you vote for Harkins your taxes go up and if you vote for Paul your taxes go down.

    But then you state that no one has a plan to actually lower taxes. So how can voting determine what your mortgage and rent will be?

    We simply have no idea what they will be regardless of who we vote for.

    What we are voting for is who do we think can keep the damage to a minimum. No one is going to lower taxes. Thinking that our taxes are going to go down is a fantasy.

  2. 2 jezebel282

    Mike,

    Well we certainly know that Harkins raised our taxes four times in a row don’t we?

    “Thinking that our taxes are going to go down is a fantasy.”
    Are you saying that no one can lower taxes?

  3. 3 mikereynolds

    Yes he did. I don’t know the answer to this but when was the last time mill rate went down during a non revaluation year?

    Prices rise on everything. Salaries continue to rise. How can taxes not rise as well? A mayor, no matter who he or she is, cannot by themselves lower taxes. Without massive, beyond getting SAEP on the tax rolls, massive commercial development I doubt we will ever see taxes lowered in Stratford.

  4. 4 jezebel282

    Mike,

    “Prices rise on everything.”
    Not really. Ask any home owner if the price of their house has gone up in the last four years.

    “Salaries continue to rise.”
    Seriously? Please raise your hand if you’ve gotten a significant raise in the last four years.

    “A mayor, no matter who he or she is, cannot by themselves lower taxes.”
    That is absolutely true. A mayor would need something like an 8-2 majority on the Council. Say, wait a minute……

    There are actually lots and lots of things a mayor can do. Since none of the candidates have the balls nerve to post them here, why don’t we do it for them?

    Post your tax saving ideas below:

  5. 5 mikereynolds

    I was speaking of prices rising like those for utilities, school supplies, etc. But yes the price of my home is higher this year versus last year. Of course everyone’s home price has fallen since 2009.

    Yes salaries do rise. Again I meant in town. Don’t teachers, policemen, and firemen salaries rise? And I’ll raise my hand since I’ve got 3.5% last year and no less than 2% over the last 10 years. And it doesn’t matter what the percentage is, town salaries are always going to rise. Maybe you’ll get a year where the contact calls for no raise in a particular year but its just temporary since they’re going to go up the following year.

  6. 6 jezebel282

    Mike,

    You make it seem as if we have no option at all other than to accept whatever increase is asked. I don’t believe that.

    For example, not a single assistant principal makes less than $110k/year and most make much more. Every Chief of Anything has a shiny new Ford Explorer (loaded of course). The Superintendent makes a whopping $210,000k, the Town attorney ( don’t get me started on that one).

  7. 7 mikereynolds

    Yes, that’s how I pretty much look at it. As I said the best candidate is one who can keep the damage to a minimum.

    As to your example, those assistant principal positions are beyond the reach of a mayor. You know that. The mayor can give the BOE X dollars in the hopes of cutting the high end fat. But we all know the BOE is not going to do that, they’re going to threaten to close a school or cut teachers or classes, but they are not going to eliminate positions at HQ.

    I don’t argue with what the chiefs have because its a 24 hour job.

    Yes I’m with you on the town attorney, that’s a no brainer. Maybe Mr. Paul would make that change, that remains to be seen.

  8. 8 jezebel282

    Did you notice that we elect BOE members too?
    The Chiefs are more than well compensated without the luxury cars.

    But there is more…oh so much more. The problem is that nobody has the courage to talk about it.

  9. 9 mikereynolds

    “Did you notice that we elect BOE members too?”

    Yes I did. Has any board cut asst principals before?

  10. 10 jezebel282

    Nope. They cut supplies, programs and young promising teachers. NEVER EVER administrators.

    Something to ask anyone that wants to be elected to the BOE isn’t it?

  11. 11 jezebel282

    In my memory, the only person to ever question the elected BOE members was a mayor. We question Council candidates (who actually have less of a budget) more closely than we ever question BOE candidates.

    Nonetheless, there is PLENTY to cut on the Townside too. At some point soon, it will be unsustainable for residents.

  12. Mike,
    Agree about who will do the least damage. What is clear is that in 10-15 years in public office (Hartford and Stratford), Harkins has done next to nothing positive and has followed the “tax and spend” Democratic playbook. Oh right, he’s a republican. Splain that one to me Lucy. Joe Paul is more questions than answers, but let’s be clear that Harkins did not win in 2009 … Miron lost and lost big.

    Equally worse is the 8-2 majority council. They continue to play games and get nothing done. At some point the people start taking back the town. And it starts on 11/5.

  13. 13 jezebel282

    “Joe Paul is more questions than answers”
    And this is why Paul will probably lose. No one knows what Harkins or Paul will do for the next four years. So most will vote for the status quo. Until Paul starts actually saying something he doesn’t have a prayer.

  14. 14 jezebel282

    Overall, I think the best hope for Stratford residents is a Democratic Council given the overwhelming advantage Harkins has. There would be at least a discussion of the budget rather than automatic approval.

  15. I agree on getting a Dem TC, but that only happens if the “people” come out to vote this year. Big turnout favors Dems IMHO.

  16. 16 jezebel282

    It would be a bit easier if the candidates actually said something.

  17. 17 appalledandamused

    The amounts that asst principles and the superintendent make ARE crazy. Perhaps we can get some of the professional politicians out of the BOE, too? And by “professional politicians”, I’m talking about those Stratford opportunists who flip political parties and elected seats as deftly as a fry cook flips pancakes.

  18. Not everyone’s paychecks rose. Mike, good for you that you got a 3.5% increase! You’re probably among the small percentage of people whose paycheck has risen. Personally, I’ve been hit, not once, but twice, and got hit with a 30% decrease in my income in the last four years. I’m fortunate that I have a job though and I’m more relaxed and happier than I’ve been in a long while. What I’ve lost in money, I’ve gained in the fact I’m closer to home, I have a better work environment and I love what I do. But, while I’m happier on one side, I’ve still watched my taxes have gone up, I’ve had to add not one, but two car payments to my budget, which means my auto insurance has increased, my property taxes increased, health insurance costs, has increased, etc. Not everyone’s paychecks get increased in Town Hall and the BOE either. If you think that’s accurate, you are fooling yourself. I usually try and catch up on some of the minutes of the various boards online. I read one in particular that made me sick. It was from a personnel board. A motion was made to give all administrative personnel (you know, non-union personnel) an across the board 2.5% increase. A question was raised by a member about how that compares to what the union raises are and an answer was given that since union employees get step increases along with contractual increases, it’s pretty much the same. It’s no secret that my husband works for the BOE. An honest, hard working guy. I can tell you for a fact that my husband, who works for the BOE, topped out on step increases probably 20 years ago (maybe more) and he hasn’t seen an increase anywhere near a COLA for years. In addition, while they only have to contribute 25% to their HSA, we have to contribute 50%.

    Recently, I found a resume of a hire in Town Hall. The person hired had absolutely no experience for the position and got it. Why? Most likely because the person rubs elbows with many of the politicos in Town. That’s how things are done. It’s not what you know, it’s who you know. That’s on Main Street and on East Broadway.

    I listened last night for the period of time I could stay at the debate. John Harkins talked about his progress at the Railroad Station and how there will finally be more parking. He never once mentioned the garage that was supposed to be coming FOR YEARS! I was on a committee with him before he was Mayor and we the plans were being drawn up for a garage. Not one mention of that now. I guess he thinks people have forgotten. Well, I guess adding a few more spaces will appease things for a little while (at least until the election is over). Not much of a dent will be made in the wait list. Funny too – I looked at the proposed budget – the Railroad Manager’s salary seemed to increase about $20K. I have quite a few friends who are still commuters and they have commented on how inept the guy who deals with this stuff is. Maybe it’s not him, maybe there’s a friend who needs a job!

    It was more than obvious to me that John Harkins has every intention, if elected, of stalling any progress for Stratford’s theatre. He has no intention of giving an ounce of optimism to it. Why? Because the RTC boys have other plans. I saw Joe Kubic roll his eyes when John Dempsey quietly made a comment while looking at Matt Catalano (who was discussing things that have progressed with the theater). It wouldn’t have taken a rocket scientist to figure out their tet-a-tet out from the looks on their faces and the “snicker” look on Joe Kubic’s face as they both were looking at Matt.

    I know who I am supporting, and it’s not Harkins. If John Harkins gets elected again, another four years of no progress will occur.

  19. 19 mikereynolds

    “Not everyone’s paychecks rose.” Holy crap!!! Really??? You mean not everyone gets a raise every year? Wow Pat I’m shocked!

    You get the Pointing Out the Obvious Award.

  20. 20 jezebel282

    Mike,

    “Wow Pat I’m shocked!”

    Now, now, Mike. Be nice. After all, you did get a raise. I think Pat’s point was that for the most middle class earners income has decreased during the last four years. The trouble is that no one in the Special Needs Building (also known as Town Hall) or Fantasy Land (The BOE building) has taken note of that.

    If it is not clear to RTC/DTC members, it is certainly clear to residents that automatic property tax and user “fee” increases every year are unsustainable.

  21. 21 mikereynolds

    “Now, now, Mike. Be nice. After all, you did get a raise.”

    Yes I did. That was in response to your comment, “Please raise your hand if you’ve gotten a significant raise in the last four years.”

    I never said anything about anyone else getting or not getting a raise.

  22. 22 jezebel282

    Short Notice Update:

    There is a “Meet & Greet” tonight at 7:15 PM and a chance to question Joe Paul at 120 Douglas Street . It’s actually free (not a fundraiser) and a great chance to get a question or ten answered.

    I suppose you can do the same thing with Harkins if you call (203) 385 – 4001 and make an appointment for sometime after November 5th.

  23. 23 jezebel282

    Update:

    If you don’t vote today you are not entitled to complain about Town taxes, fees or services.

    Elections have consequences.

  24. 24 mikereynolds

    And by the results we saw that many people didn’t vote. What a terrible showing by Stratford voters. Just dismal.

  25. 25 jezebel282

    Mike,

    I gotta agree with you there. Only 10,529 votes cast for mayor is embarrassing. It’s like only their close friends and relatives voted. Hey wait a minute…maybe it was just their close friends and relatives.

    More disappointing was putting another 9-1 majority on the Council. The only budget discussion we will hear is how quickly the Council can pass whatever it is.

    It is quite clear now that the Democratic Town Committee is at best ineffective. Most would go with incompetent. It is really time to start calling for resignations and reorganization. Government is not designed to run without debate. One party systems are never a good thing. After four consecutive defeats (Actually “defeats” is too mild. “Rejection”, “thrashing”, “trouncing” or “pummeling” are far more accurate words.) it is time to admit that the Democratic Town Committee does not exist as more than small circle of self interested cronies. Unless a Democrat runs unopposed, election to mayor, the Council, Board of Education, Zoning and perhaps Dog Catcher, if that were an elected position, would be out of reach.

    In the meantime, we can all look forward to hearing from our mortgage companies with notices of escrow adjustments because taxes have gone up. But probably not as much as it will cost us to flush our toilets.

  26. 26 mikereynolds

    Its no secret I am a Harkins supporter. However there are some things that he has done that I don’t like or disagree with. The sewer fee, handling EMS/Donna Best, and having a chief of staff are at the top of the list. Overall though I think John Harkins is dedicated to making Stratford better and is truly sincere in his efforts. Ultimately, that’s what got him re-elected. The people (those few who voted) believed that John Harkins can do a better job than Joe Paul. They also believed that none of the Democrat candidates for town council or board of education were suitable to make important decisions for Stratford. One has to wonder how much of their decision was confidence in the Republican candidates and how much of their decision was based on the memory of the Jim Miron led Democrats. I really hate to bring him up because it was four years ago but how else can it be explained?

  27. 27 jezebel282

    Mike,

    My postmortem:

    “the memory of the Jim Miron led Democrats.”

    With Rich Buturla (Miron’s Chief Enabler) as DTC Chairman and Beth Daponte as the DTC’s first choice how can you not remember the Miron Disaster?

    But beyond that, the DTC failed to convey any message at all. Joe Paul didn’t take any solid positions until a couple of days before Election Day. There was just nothing there to vote for. When running against an incumbent you’d better have a clear plan that voters understand. After all, it’s not like Harkins has ever articulated a plan. As for Council seats, not one single Council candidate even mentioned the Town Budget. Since that is the only real power the Charter left to the Council you’d think they would have brought it up. But no. The Council candidates were mostly silent about that and whined about the blizzard instead. As if any of them did anything other than stare out of the window during it.

    What’s more, the candidates made poor use of media and forums like this instead letting proxies bicker and name call. But I suppose that makes sense because none of them really had anything to say.

    I am absolutely certain that amateurs like you and I could sit down with a $192 million budget and figure out how to save a few bucks. Apparently, no member of the RTC nor DTC can do that. And the voters have declared that they don’t want the DTC involved in the discussion at all.


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