Board of Selectmen
Our endorsed candidates have carefully reviewed the zoning application of the Open Communities Trust. Its stated purpose is to nullify the 1.5-acre, single family housing standard, which would be detrimental to the town as a whole. Woodbridge residents recognize the importance of this issue and have made public comment 10:1 in opposition. We urge the TPZ to listen to our residents and oppose this application.
Woodbridge is faced with a challenge to end our 1.5-acre zoning, under the guise of providing affordable housing. Real estate developers require land to conduct their business, but random procurement of properties throughout Woodbridge for the purpose of constructing affordable housing will forever change the character of our town. The increased density, which accompanies this type of development, will also place further stress on clean water resources relied upon by our residents and those in surrounding communities.
Throughout Connecticut, towns and cities have faced this problem, and solved it with community-supported, community-controlled planning and implementation that considers the best way to achieve the desired ends. The failure of the current administration to implement the existing plan created outlined in 2015 in the Town Plan of Conservation and Development has put our townspeople in this vulnerable situation. Further, this inaction has put our residents into the unfair position of having to defend ourselves against racist claims and has helped shape a narrative which casts Woodbridge residents in a negative light.
We believe that by supporting and carrying out the existing TPZ plan, Woodbridge will comply with state law while also preserving our existing zoning and town character.
We are concerned that the mill rate in Woodbridge at 41.53 is high and is continuing to escalate. Since 2013, for example, inflation rose 12.8% while our mill rate rose 20%. This high rate for taxation puts us in the top 20 towns in Connecticut. There are 150 other towns in Connecticut where the same home investment will bring with it a lower tax burden.
Why should this matter? In our last revaluation, two-thirds of all homes went DOWN in value, a direct result of high property taxes. Our taxes are higher than comparable towns; our partners in the Amity Region 5 school district, Bethany (36.56) and Orange (33.28) have significantly lower tax rates. Because of the unique character of our town there are few opportunities to control this taxation rate. We have a large percentage of our population over the age of 65, which implies some level of fixed income, and we have a low percentage of commercial property to share the burden of budget increases.
What can we do? Town budgets reflect priorities, and we need to place a high priority on our taxpayers’ budgets. Current leadership actions suggest that this is not the case now. Our team knows that this is your money and you should have a stronger voice. Budget referenda should be structured so town voters have choices about which projects move forward. Our team advocates tighter budgetary controls over projects, limitations on the issuance of bonds, and revamping of how we prioritize and fund capital projects.
In 14 years of one-party rule, our town leadership has become a small group with too similar views. On May 3, please bring balance back to Woodbridge. Vote Row B for Balance.
The Woodbridge Country Club, which was once a town jewel, has become an eyesore. Why? Because the one party leadership during our ownership of this property has consistently failed to be proactive. The pursuit of development in the face of strong opposition has led to inaction, poor decisions and the resulting degradation. The status of the former golf course is a signal to others that our planning is chaotic and our willingness to conserve the resources of our town is weak. The vultures who might seek to profit or advance their own agenda by taking advantage of Woodbridge are circling.
What to do? Our team proposes to move forward decisively with two actions: 1) commit to appropriately managing the highly visible property as open space until a final, referendum-based decision on its future is made, and 2) engage a consultant with expertise in golf course repurposing so that residents can learn what options for use of the property are feasible, considering both current zoning requirements and parameters supported by a majority of town residents. By taking these common-sense based actions we can regain town control of a downward spiraling situation.
Woodbridge currently has two bonds originating in the amount of $5.8 million, which are scheduled to be retired in 2023. Presently, there are four new projects which have been proposed for bonding. Financing for these new projects would replace and extend existing debt service for many years, rather than retiring the 2023 bonds.
Our position offers two refreshing approaches – do not issue new bonds just because prior indebtedness is being retired. Also, allow voters to decide by referendum which projects should proceed to bonding when there are multiple projects under consideration.
The Woodbridge enviable “Moody’s Aaa” debt rating reflects the town’s stable, albeit limited, tax base with very strong income and wealth levels. With the Town’s limited ability to grow its grand list, repayment of increasing levels of indebtedness will be borne by our current tax base in the form of tax increases. This is a serious concern to the majority of our townspeople, especially given the prospects of higher state and federal taxes and generally higher costs to live in Connecticut.
We advocate that a systematic review be performed of our current process for the prioritization, budgeting and funding of bonded projects. This review should yield a new process which provides both a full vetting of each proposed project and requires a referendum on each discrete project above a given amount. We feel that while this method will surely require a high level of planning and public discourse, in the end the townspeople will benefit from wide agreement on the purpose and affordability of bonded projects.
As other Town services begin to restart, Library hours continue to be severely curtailed. As of April 5, it is only open three hours per day, five days per week. This is a far cry from pre-pandemic hours and far too few to properly serve the town. The impact of this limited service is felt by students and adults alike. Our First Selectman has been publicly in favor of a sidewalk being installed between Amity Regional High School and the town center, particularly the Library. Why would we make that investment if the library won’t even be open for the students when they need it? We support greatly expanding the current library hours.
Woodbridge Board of Education
Row B endorses education that is balanced, in the building, and back to basics. We, the Republican Board of Education slate, support building and maintaining strong foundations at Beecher Road School. Back to basics prioritizes the education of children over politics and partisan issues.
Being in the building is key to the educational experience. As a minority party, we listened to the majority of parents and were influential in providing both an in-person and full-remote option to ensure the health and wellbeing of the families. Only the Republican members of the Board of Education were willing to enter the building to meet with staff and consultants to ensure the building was safe for all. By supporting the staff and cost-cutting measures proposed by the business manager and administration, we predict and support a budget-neutral solution to the 2020-2021 pandemic educational year.
We believe that having a clearly written, published curriculum available to parents will ensure that the children of Woodbridge are prepared to enter the Region 5 Amity District. Most importantly, a published curriculum allows a parent to know precisely what is being taught in the school. Having this documented curriculum is the first step to a unified educational experience that follows a student from Pre-K through Amity grade 12. In addition, we need to continue the discussions on shared services and fully explore regionalization.
Balance is keeping the ship steady: enhancing the value of the school to maintain the value of our homes, focusing on the needs of all children vs self-serving individual agendas, and respecting the time of administrators and educators. Unfortunately, the Democratic BOE members push agendas that benefit their children with little concern for the cost to the town or benefit to the larger community. Republicans will continue to bring balance to the board by listening to the needs and working with the community.
After this election, we will be entering into a negotiation season. These negotiations will determine how much of the budget will be left to educate the children for the next several years. Ask yourself who you want as your advocate during these negotiations. Woodbridge residents deserve the most value for their tax dollars. We propose an educational endowment fund as a means of achieving budget stability. Be it balancing your home budget or a budget at work, hard choices must be made. It is how you navigate those choices and how others are treated that matters.
As you pull the lever for candidates on Row B in May, be assured that you are pulling the lever for quality in- school learning and adding balance to the Board of Education.
Amity Board of Education
Back to School Safely: In-person learning is best for students. Ensuring we can provide a safe environment for our children to be able to return to their classrooms is key to their future. A safe in-school environment not only provides a better educational experience but also supports students’ important social and psychological development and well-being. Republican board members back fully reopening the schools, in-person learning in a safe environment for our students and a normal educational and social development experience.
Balance between Education and Taxpayers: Our education system is the crown jewel of our town. We need to protect it and assure that it continues to provide the outstanding educational experience our students and their parents expect. At same time we need to manage it prudently to reflect the concerns of taxpayers who support it.
Bring Back Fiscal Transparency and Responsibility: Amity must get the funding it needs to provide an excellent education, but the practice of over-budgeting year after year and then returning excess funds to the towns must stop. That way of doing things provides no extra benefit to students, but burdens residents with unnecessarily high tax rates which never go down when the excess funds are returned. We want to stop this practice and work toward a more balanced transparent and predictive budget.
Republican candidates in “Row B” endorses a better use of your tax money, assures of better transparency and promises a better balance between students need and Taxpayers concerns to ensure a better foundation and future of our schools and town overall.