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Westport Board of Finance Approves $73.48 Million Town Budget 5-2

A letter to the editor from Board of Finance Chair Avi Kaner.

During the past few years, our operating budgets were austere directly as a result of the severe economic downturn:

  1. Our to make up for market losses
  2. Newly discovered problems with our required significant contributions
  3. Reduced real estate activity drastically lowered our conveyance tax revenue

As a result, the Town and Schools were forced to prioritize projects, find productivity improvements, and cut operating budgets to minimize the tax burden.

This year’s budget continues to be lean, but begins to play “catch-up” in areas that were slowed down. For example, . Our budget also includes an increase in Parks & Rec, offset by program fees, to enhance service offerings to town residents. The public safety budget has remained relatively flat due to productivity improvements.

On the pension side, I’m pleased to report that since November, . The benefit to taxpayers will take time to take hold as employees turn over in the years ahead. Additionally, to evaluate our pension and OPEB plans. We are looking to bid out our health insurance to find potential savings. During this short period of time, we’ve positioned Westport for a more stable financial future. This is the result of the Selectman’s office and this Board of Finance working in unison to tackle the difficult challenges.

Our Board of Finance has also taken some difficult measures to eliminate inefficient operations. For example, we voted to consolidate the Westport Transit commuter lines into one line running from the Imperial parking lot. The cost to maintain the shuttle network was exorbitant given the low ridership. We did however retain the door-to-door network providing rides to the elderly and disabled, regardless of cost.

Our next . We’ll continue to insist on a best-in-class school system and efficient operations.

Desiree Soli March 29, 2012 at 03:28 PM
You are doing a terrific job, keep up the good work.
Don Bergmann March 31, 2012 at 02:50 AM
It is important to remember that the efforts to achieve the significant changes to the Public Works Union contract began and continued into arbitration under the leadership of the Finance Board Chair Helen Garten. Also, several years ago, Helen Garten, as Board Chair, pushed to try to cause First Selectman Joseloff to make dramatic changes to the pension plans for our non union municipal employees. The First Selectman chose not to do that until after the changes in the Board of Fianance resulting from the 2011 election. It is natural for present Chair Avi Kaner to focus upon events that culminated after his election, but the efforts leading to those events had their origins with Helen Garten. Also, Chair Kaner and three other members of the Board of Finance cut a small amount from the Town roadway maintenace budget. The three other members of the Board, Helen Garten, Brian Stern and Janis Collins sought unsuccessfully to increase the budget for road maintenance by $90.000. Don Bergmann

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