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Background from Dave Bindelglass on Special Town Meeting March 25 on Tax Relief for Elderly, State Grant for EMS Headquarters, and School Appropriation


Below First Selectman David Bindelglass provides background on the important issues on the agenda at our Special Town Meeting next Monday.

Please plan to attend Easton's Special Town Meeting on Monday, March 25 at 7pm at Samuel Staples Elementary followed by a public hearing on the town of Easton and Region 9 budgets. With the town meeting form of government, it's essential we show up to discuss and vote on important town issues. The agenda includes discussion of Tax Relief for the Elderly, acceptance of grant for EMS Headquarters, and Board of Ed appropriation.

As a reminder, in Easton, the legislative body of the town is the town meeting. All citizens eligible to vote are asked to attend. Decisions are made by a vote at the town meeting unless there is a petition by 200 people or a decision by the board of selectmen to send the question to a machine vote. We have frequently made the decision to go to a referendum so that the entire town is able to vote on important questions, also considering whether the outcome of the vote is questionable or controversial.  When we feel that is not the case we have held votes directly at the town meeting, as we are doing at this town meeting.

Because this is a “special Town Meeting”, by statute, the items on this agenda for March 25, are the only items open for consideration and the state statutes governing town meetings are here.  

Participation is critical, as this is our town and we make the decisions. While none of the items on the agenda should be controversial, we do want to make sure everything passes.

First, we will have the opportunity to approve the changes to the tax relief for the elderly, which the committee led by long time DTC member Paul Lindorfer, has recommended. Our commitment to our seniors endures, and this is very important for many of our seniors on fixed incomes.

Second, the board of education has become aware of a shortfall in the current year’s operating budget. They are asking for a special one-time appropriation of $600,000. They will be posting more details of what caused the shortfall and how the remedy will settle the current situation. We believe the current leadership of the school system and the current board of education have been extremely responsible and transparent. We are fortunate that we have a strong and conservative board of finance which has been careful to make certain we always have a considerable reserve fund so that this appropriation can be covered without an increase in our taxes as a result. We hope you will support this appropriation.

As you have likely heard me say before, the town was extremely fortunate to win a grant from the state for $396,000 to use as part of our EMS renovations. In no small part was this due to the hard work of Ann Hughes and the Democratic leadership at the state level. The third agenda item for the town meeting is that we must officially accept the grant. This should be non-controversial.

Following the town meeting will be a  full presentation of the budgets, and an opportunity to ask questions of the chairman of the board of finance and of the Region 9 board chairman. Your input will be important as the budget proposal will be finalized over the ensuing month, before the annual town meeting on April 29.

You can read more about the issues on the agenda and town committee reports at the Easton Town Website. We hope to see you there. The town meeting gives us all a voice--Let's use it!

Dave

March 18, 2024

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