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The original item was published from 5/10/2021 12:05:00 PM to 5/11/2021 12:00:00 AM.

News Flash

Representative Town Meeting

Posted on: May 10, 2021


Gregory Piccininno -

GENERAL BUDGET - I would like to know why an essential part of the school capital budget was removed by the BET.  It was a 200k line item and unless we determine the future of Central Middle School, it is difficult to establish a direction in terms of the schools capital budget and as such, we could be wasting money with unnecessary projects or repairs.  This seems counter to "keeping an eye on the mill rate".   Would anyone run a home or a business without a such a plan?

BOE CAPITAL BUDGET - Removing funds for Central Middle School Study


Clare Kilgallen -

BOE CAPITAL BUDGET - In support of the budget that submitted by the BoE to the BET,  I object to the tie-breaking vote to cut BOE Capital which included reducing (and delaying) the Julian Curtiss School project.  By directing the BOE in what to eliminate from the educational specifications (preschool and science classroom) -- which is the educational program -- the BET has overstepped its role and improperly told the duly elected Board of Education how to do its job. 

BOE OPERATING BUDGET - In full support of budget.

GENERAL GOVERNMENT CAPITAL BUDGET - In support of the funding of (1) the Greenwich Avenue Intersection Improvements and (2) the D. Hamill Rink Facility Improvements.  
AGAINST the motion to delete $500,000 from account 312-960-22320 - Greenwich Avenue Intersection Improvements. AGAINST the motion to delete $900,000 from account 345-956-22329 Hamill Rink Facility Improvements..

OTHER BUDGET COMMENTS - Against the motion to amend item number 2; the opponent to the motion should speak last.


Lorelei Ohagan -

GENERAL BUDGET - 61 members of the RTM voted No last year. Even though many understand that a No vote or an abstain does not change the outcome, it serves as a record of protest. As late as last week, there was misinformation going around that if RTM members voted no, the budget would revert to last year's budget with no recourse for appropriating funds for this year. 36 members of the RTM this year published a letter to the community to explain why they will be voting No - on GreenwichFreePress - document attached for the record.


Why We Voted to Reject the Budget

We, the undersigned members of the RTM, will vote on Monday to REJECT the highly partisan, shamefully inadequate 2021-2022 Greenwich Town budget proposed by the Board of Estimate and Taxation (BET). Our NO vote is largely symbolic - we have been informed that even if the RTM fails to approve the budget, it still goes into effect - but we feel it is important to protest an unfair process. 

Here is how it works - the BET presented a budget to the RTM for approval that many feel inadequately funds critical infrastructure and provides no long-term planning for future spending requirements, but the RTM can only reduce or cut line items. With no ability to propose additional spending measures, the RTM has no way to correct these deficiencies.  Nor can it direct how any savings it generates should be used. 

The RTM also has no way to prevent the budget from passing. In a letter circulated to RTM members prior to the budget review, it was noted that, “If the RTM fails to adopt a budget by May 15, the Charter provides that the budget as recommended by the BET takes effect for the next fiscal year.” In other words, if the RTM approves the BET budget, it passes, and if a majority of the RTM votes NO or ABSTAINS, the BET budget still goes into effect. Thus, in the eyes of many RTM members, except for cutting even more spending, the RTM becomes nothing more than a rubber stamp for what we feel is a short-sighted, underfunded budget.

We have a system that is asymmetric - it works in only one direction. If the proposed budget is too “fat,” the RTM can make cuts, but if the budget is too “skinny,” the RTM cannot do anything except make it even skinnier. And this is precisely the point - the BET has taken advantage of this asymmetry by proposing underfunded budgets to the RTM for years, preventing it from acting as a true forum for debate about the financial future of our town. We find it nonsensical that the six individual GOP members of the BET (the six Democratic members of the BET voted to REJECT this budget) were able to force an unpopular budget through the system, with a single tie-breaking vote. The GOP-majority led BET has pushed a partisan budget but the challenges facing our town are not partisan in nature.

We note that even as Greenwich is expected to receive tens of millions of dollars in federal and state aid as a result of pandemic related relief efforts, the BET budget makes drastic cuts to appropriations requested by the Board of Education that are widely supported by town residents and RTM members, and which follow the school district’s fifteen-year Facilities Master Plan that was adopted in 2018. It also does not fund the fire station recommended by an expert study, reduces, and defers funding for critical capital projects and even ignores a modest request for a popular bike path study. At the same time, the BET appropriates $21 million dollars of spending power for the purpose of lowering taxes.  

As members of the RTM, we do not feel that this is the right direction for our town and we are alarmed by the lack of democratic process in making these determinations.  We believe that a fully funded budget should be presented to the RTM and that its members should be able to debate and decide on spending needs versus tax cuts, giving residents a chance to have their voices represented.  We believe the RTM should have a say in setting aside funding for needed capital projects and setting goals for the financial future of our town. 

In sum, the BET has for years been proposing underfunded budgets that ignore the views of an increasing number of residents and that fail to meet the long-term investment needs of our town. Whether the RTM votes to approve or reject it, that budget still goes into effect.  This is a ludicrous way to run our finances.   

Here is what you can do.  First, get educated.  We are writing this letter to inform our constituents about the issues at hand.  Please reach out to any of us to learn more. Second, run for the RTM. Help to move our town in a more positive direction. Third, the GOP members of the BET have let you down.  Come November, when it is time to cast your ballot, remember that they denied spending to repair a public school with a collapsed ceiling, refused to fund a fire station that is critical for public safety, and delayed funding to remediate public buildings that are 50-60 years old. Is that the kind of leadership you want for our town? 

  • Ali Ghiorse D1

  • Ryan Oca D1

  • Mary Ellen Markowitz D2

  • Judd Cohen D3

  • Steven Rubin D3

  • Javier Aleman D4

  • Lucy von Brachel D4

  • Lucy Krasnor D5

  • Hale McSharry D5

  • Joan Thakor D5

  • Monica Prihoda D6

  • David Snyder D6

  • Scott Kalb D7

  • Elizabeth Perry D7

  • Mike Warner D7

  • Hector Arzeno D8

  • Dana Gordon D8

  • Janet McMahon D8

  • Cheryl Moss D8

  • Caryn Rosenbaum D8

  • Phyllis Alexander D9

  • Melissa Evans D9

  • Joanne Steinhart D9

  • Mareta Hamre D10

  • Sara Kessler D10

  • Rachel Khanna D10

  • Diana Singer D10

  • Louisa Stone D10

  • Nancy Marshall D10

  • Joanna Swomley D10

  • Sophie Veronis D10

  • Svetlana Wasserman D10

  • Mary Connolly Flynn D12

  • Mary Kelly D12

  • Aaron Leonard D12

  • Andrew Winston D12


Dan Quigley -


In a letter just published, a list of 36 town contend that the Budget process that has existed in our town for decades, is “highly partisan” “shamefully inadequate”and “lack(s) a democratic process”.
Why is this extremely transparent process of checks and balances being ridiculed? Because these 36 people are angry the town did not spend millions of dollars more to fund projects they support.

The signees of this letter treat the budget process as though it consists of a few meetings by the town Finance Board (BET) and is then whisked away to the RTM for final approval within a matter of days. This is a gross misrepresentation of the process and takes the reader for a fool. At one point, the letter comically attempts to illustrate “Here’s how it works”. This is the rhetorical equivalent of a driving lesson in which the instructor starts the car, puts it in reverse and backs into a brick wall.

The budget process in Greenwich is a multiple months long ordeal consisting of countless public BET and town departmental meetings. The BET submits its guidelines to town departments for Operating Budgets in October, while BET Capital Budget guidelines are submitted in December. By late January, the town departments and First Selectman submit their budgets to the BET. Sometimes they fall within what the BET recommends, mostly they exceed the guidelines. Thus begins the process of debate and a line item, by line item review of the budget. The goal of which is to produce a budget everyone can live with to some degree of satisfaction.

Back to this perplexing letter by 36 town residents. The signees claim that because the RTM can only cut budget items at its annual budget meeting that this is unfair. What these folks either do not understand or more likely have intentionally omitted is that from October until now, all of the RTM committees (comprised of RTM members) have met many times, reviewed the budget and presented their case to the RTM for or against additional spending.
In other words, this budget is a reflection of the RTM even though it is ultimately the BET’s responsibility to present the budget to the RTM for final passage.

The signees of this letter are stomping their feet in a fit because the budget did not give them everything they wanted. They go on to conclude that “the BET has for years been proposing underfunded budgets” and that “GOP members of the BET have let you down”. This ignores the fact that just two years ago Democrats ran the BET, and funded the budget in much the same way.

The letter in question is representative of a vocal minority of our town who have made it their raison d’etre to target Republican BET members in November. They point out in their concluding paragraph that the budge process “is a ludicrous way to run our finances”. Greenwich has maintained its Triple A credit rating through the Great Recession of 2008, and the pandemic while executing this very process. People have fled TO our town this past year because of its reputation for being extremely well managed, as well as its excellent public schools and reasonably low tax rates.

 Our budget process works just fine.

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