Vote Row A for Easton Democrats
There are very clear differences between the Democratic and Republican candidates. The Democratic candidates want to work with the town’s citizens to responsibly move our town forward. We will lead with transparency as we seek to find additional revenue sources so we can improve our Senior Tax Relief Program and fund our schools.
What We Learned in the Recent Debates About the Differences Between Democratic and Republican Candidates
There is a lot at stake in this election, and it’s important to know the issues and the candidates’ positions. The Q&A debates for Board of Selectmen and Board of Finance demonstrate clear and important differences in the positions held by Republicans and Democrats on important issues that matter to Easton residents.
Republicans have made it clear that they believe Easton should continue on in the same manner as we have in the past. Easton Democratic candidates are dedicated to Easton, and we recognize that we must have clear plans and foresight to protect our town’s future. We aim to protect our seniors, and fund our schools, which will subsequently attract home buyers and increase our property values. Our goals are in support of the following initiatives…
1. Educational Excellence
Attracting new families to Easton depends on maintaining our excellent schools. Our Democratic candidates support funding our schools to ensure excellence in education and strong social, emotional, and academic programming. If you have lived through the last few budget cycles, then you have experienced how the Republican-controlled Board of Finance has continued to reduce funding for our schools resulting in significant cuts to faculty and staff. And you may have even noticed that they removed an individual from a critical board in which he was in favor of supporting school funding. That didn’t go unnoticed by us, and we think that speaks volumes about their priorities.
The bipartisan Board of Education has presented reasonable budgets to the Board of Finance, but its Republican members have repeatedly suggested large cuts to those budgets. The Republican Board of Finance nominees have supported $400,000 of cuts as well as tax credits for households that send their kids to private schools. The Democratic candidates support reasonable budgets to maintain small classes, ensure adequate educational support staff, and fund professional development. We will approach the Board of Education budget looking at what we NEED to better educate our children, rather than arbitrarily reducing BOE budgets as they are presented. Learn more in the closing remarks by Tara Donnelly Gottlieb and Devon Wible.
2. Revenue Generation & Senior Tax Relief
The Democratic candidates are committed to finding more revenue from sources other than individual property taxes. One example is ensuring that Aquarion property is assessed and taxed appropriately.
The Easton Democratic Town Committee has found that the land under the Hemlock Reservoir, which is owned half by Easton and half by Fairfield, is appraised at $30,000 per acre in Fairfield, but at $3,652 per acre in Easton. As a result, and as is clear in the tax bills, Fairfield collects over $167,000 per year in taxes from their half of the reservoir, while we collect less than $17,000 per year from the other half. It also appears that Easton has undervalued other land under reservoirs for decades, resulting in potentially hundreds of thousands of dollars in lost tax revenue.
Democratic candidates have addressed this issue multiple times, but the Republican candidates have neither noticed nor investigated this disparity. In the recent debates, we have been accused of spreading “disinformation” by bringing up this topic. As stated above, we are presenting the facts and information and will seek a fair assessment on the lands under town reservoirs.
Starting on November 6th, Democratic leadership will examine and research the record to determine if these lands under reservoirs should be reassessed. It is the town government’s job to ensure that all of its land is fairly assessed and taxed so that one taxpayer constituency is not unfairly (under or over) taxed. Democrats are determined to get Easton taxpayers a fair deal, and if this discrepancy is of interest to you and you’d like to be a part of the team moving this research forward then we welcome your volunteerism on the Easton Democratic Town Committee.
The Democratic candidates also believe that the roughly $400,000 per year that we pay in debt service to own land on South Park Avenue is not what more than 75% of our town voted for in 2008. On the purchase price of $6 million, about $3 million remains to be paid. Easton taxpayers have invested too much in this property already, and there is still no plan to responsibly use this land. It is a lost opportunity for revenue, tax relief, or even community use. The annual debt service could pay for vital town services like improving our Senior Tax Relief Program, provide funding for a new ambulance for our EMS, and/or reinstating important faculty positions and programs in our schools. Whatever the future use of the land — Democratic leadership will proactively research and transparently discuss how to end this enormous expense and use South Park so it benefits our town and its citizens. We will welcome your input and ideas as well.
3. Promoting Community & Connection
We will keep Easton’s unique rural character in tact! There is no place like Easton, and preserving our open space is paramount to keeping Easton attractive to others and maintaining our town’s character. People want community and connection, and with imaginative thinking and careful planning to protect our land and farming community aesthetics, we can make things happen in a way that honors Easton’s history and celebrates all that we are as a community. We can responsibly add to our town by adding one or two small establishments – places like the Easton Village Store and Greiser’s — where neighbors can come together.
The small area near Silverman’s Farm already has (and has always had), several small businesses operating there. The Democractic Town Committee met with Planning & Zoning recently, and have a clear understanding of the regulatory control that is ensured for any possible expansion as evidenced in this FAQ pdf they shared with us. We understand that many individuals have concerns over any possible development in this area, and we recently addressed some of those concerns via social media as well. Our team of leaders will continue to be transparent about our vision, promote our farms, and look into opportunities for community and connection in this small 15 acre area. These efforts will make Easton even more attractive to home buyers, which will support increasing property values – a goal for so many of our residents! Your talents, input, and innovative ideas are welcomed on any of these initiatives as we seek qualified and committed community members on our various town boards and commissions.
All of Our Goals Will Lead to Improved Property Values
When elected, the Democratic government officials will take action to address and improve our property values. Easton’s Democratic candidates are dedicated to finding nonpartisan solutions. Let’s think, plan, research, engage in open and honest dialogue, and explore our options – together – for Easton’s future!
We look forward to seeing you at the polls and earning your VOTE on November 5th! Polls are open from 6am – 8pm at Samuel Staples Elementary School!