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Article Published March 20, 2019
Not Fiscally Prudent
Nancy E.V. Barrett

If the increases in your readers’ bills and taxes are gobbling up their fixed income and giving them agita, then they should make their voices heard in town decision-making. There was a Feb. 25 Town Meeting vote by a group of 50 residents (mostly North Haven firemen) to approve spending $750,000 of North Haven tax dollars to buy a new pumper fire engine (we have seven engines). Despite my urges to delay this vote, the resolution was passed—a decision that in my opinion was both premature and financially irresponsible.

In two weeks, we will discover whether our town will be awarded a $750,000 FEMA grant for a new pumper fire engine and fire equipment. Shouldn’t we have waited to find out what we could get for free before reaching into our pockets to pay for it? As a reminder, we spent $1.2 million on a new ladder fire truck last year. There are plans to purchase a third ladder truck this year for $300,000. What other small town in Connecticut can afford to acquire two ladder trucks, two pumper engines, two administrative vehicles, and four additional firefighters in a one-year period?

I don’t believe that North Haven either needs or can afford these expenditures and perpetual contractual obligations. Prior to the Feb. 25 Town Meeting vote, First Selectman Mike Freda gave his “our town’s financial outlook is rosy” speech. However, during the February Board of Finance meeting, Mr. Freda was more pessimistic, warning of the potential negative impact that certain proposed state budgetary provisions might have on the fiscal stability of our town. He outlined certain financial mandates and reductions in revenue with a total potential loss of $22 million.

If Mr. Freda’s warnings prove true, then it is not fiscally prudent to spend down our “rainy day fund” on non-urgent purchases.

Nancy E.V. Barrett
North Haven