Greenwich Democrats' Voices
Greenwich's FY22 Budget Does Not Properly Plan for the Future
By Leslie Moriarty, Democratic BET Caucus Chair
The Board of Estimate and Taxation (BET) has finished its work on the Fiscal Year 2022 budget, approving a spending level of $450 million on a 7 – 6 vote, with the Chair casting a tie-breaking vote for the second year in a row.
The vote on the budget was along party lines, with the six Republican BET members voting in favor and the six Democratic BET members voting against. The Democratic members believe the budget does not properly plan for the future. It fails to fund significant infrastructure investment needs for our Schools and Town properties and relies too heavily on the Town’s rainy day funds.
Here are some of the key issues that caused the Democratic BET members to vote against the FY22 Budget:
Julian Curtiss School Renovation Project – For the second year in a row, the design funds were removed from the budget. What is left is $200,000 and a directive to the Board of Education to revise the Educational Specifications to be a smaller project than the Superintendent and Board of Ed believe is necessary.
Central Middle School engineering study – No funds were approved to conduct a study to assess necessary investment for this building.
Fire Station planning – No funds were approved for preliminary designs to enable professional fire fighters to utilize the Round Hill fire station for improved fire coverage in the northwest segment of Town.
Eastern Greenwich Civic Center – Construction of a new facility is dependent on the Town receiving a substantial private donation.
Climate Change/Sea Level Rise planning – For the second year in a row, no funds were approved to continue studies and planning for the Town’s waterfront and tidal ponds.
Bicycle Study – No funds were approved for a feasibility study for a safe east-west bike route.
Capital Planning – Proposals to enhance the Town’s ability to fund the capital plan by increasing capital funding and lowering annual debt service were rejected.
Emergency Aid to the Town’s most vulnerable residents – Additional funds for the Department of Human Services to provide support were removed from the budget.
Rainy Day Funds – The approved budget uses a significantly higher amount of the Town’s Fund Balance (aka rainy day funds) than in prior years – $21.3 million. Use of fund balance at this level is not likely to be sustainable.
The FY22 Budget was passed by the Representative Town Meeting (RTM) at its May meeting. The RTM does not have the authority to increase funding or add projects; it can only reduce budgets. The Democratic BET members will continue to push for better planning and faster action for our schools, fire coverage, and the many other important issues facing our community.
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