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Trio Of Greenwich Democrats Propose 'Common Sense Budget' For Town

Two Greenwich Democrats, Randy Huffman, left, and Sean Goldrick, right, put out papers before holding a press conference to explain their proposals for an alternate town budget.
Two Greenwich Democrats, Randy Huffman, left, and Sean Goldrick, right, put out papers before holding a press conference to explain their proposals for an alternate town budget. Photo Credit: Frank MacEachern

GREENWICH, Conn. -- Three top Greenwich Democrats are proposing what they call a "Common Sense Budget" for the town that they said would bring a lower tax hike to residents.

Board of Estimate & Taxation members Randy Huffman and Sean Goldrick were joined by Democratic Town Committee Chairman Frank Farricker at a press conference Tuesday in Greenwich Town Hall.

In comments before the press conference, Huffman said he realized it may be difficult to get the BET to adopt the plan. But he hoped their recommendations will be adopted and warned of difficult times if they were ignored.

"This year is going to be really tough if they don't do some of the things we have talked about," Huffman said.

Huffman and Goldrick have been vocal BET members in pushing to adopt long-term financing as other AAA-rated municipalities have done. Currently, Greenwich limits its financing to five years.

The two, and many other Democrats, have urged the town to change its financing approach. They argue that spreading financing over a longer term, such as 20 years, in a low interest rate environment would allow taxpayers to pay less per year.

However, Republicans, who have the deciding tie-breaking vote on the 12-member BET, have opposed any changes.

They have also argued that spreading the financing over the longer time period on large capital projects is more fair. They say residents shouldn't have to shoulder the entire burden of a capital project that future generations would also enjoy.

They also advocate dipping into the town's cash reserves of $46 million. They said the town is keeping too high a proportion in cash reserves, about 12 percent of the total budget, and said it should be about 5 percent.

"It just doesn't make sense," Huffman said for a community such as Greenwich that has a stable tax base. He said higher cash reserves are appropriate for communities that have financial problems or a less enviable credit rating than Greenwich.

Among the other measures the trio are proposing is to trim the police department by 12 uniformed officers through attrition over the next two years.

Currently, the police department has 151 uniformed officers, giving the town a ratio of 25 officers per 10,000 residents. They said this is the highest ratio of any affluent suburb in the state. They said it should be more in line with the 22 uniformed officers per 10,000 residents as seen in New Canaan.

They also said the town should impose a "tipping fee" on commercial waste haulers that dump at the town's Holly Hill facility. Currently, Greenwich is the only municipality in the area that doesn't have a tipping fee. The town is losing out on millions of dollars: A tipping fee of $90 per ton would bring in revenue of $3 million per year, they said.

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