District 13 Member Todd Szabo, the Chairman of the city Board of Assessment Appeal, responds to Republicans’ inaccurate attack on the legislative delegation in this Herald letter
To the Editor:
In response to Michael Wanik’s letter “Show Me the Money,” critical of New Britain’s
legislative delegation, I can only say I have seldom seen a more unprofessional and
Mr. Wanik is a high-ranking Republican political appointee, a position which obviously compromises his objectivity. Some would say it is a clear conflict of interest, but, at best, it undermines the integrity of the Citizens Property Owners Association as an independent taxpayer’s organization. The letter also lacks professionalism in that in fails to acknowledge the work that has been done on important issues like property tax reform, the amount of state funding currently flowing to New Britain, the obstacles put in the path of tax reform by his own Republican Party and the financial reality of the state’s current budget situation.
With respect to property tax reform, state Rep. O’Brien helped author major
legislation supported by all members of the New Britain delegation. It was the
Republicans who filibustered the bill and Republican Gov. Rell who vetoed it. Any objective review of the record would see that.
On the topic of educational assistance, Mr. Wanik conveniently forgets that it was just three years ago that the Democratic legislature passed the largest increase in school aid in Connecticut history, $237 million statewide and $6.5 million to New Britain.
Show me the money, Mr. Wanik? How much do you want to see? Shouldn’t the
mayor and local board of education be accountable for how that money was spent?
In addition, only five cities or towns rely more heavily on state aid than does New
Britain, meaning that our representatives in Hartford have brought home far more state dollars than almost every other Connecticut community. In New Britain 55 percent of all city expenditures are made with state or federal grant dollars. According to the Connecticut Conference of Municipalities, the average Connecticut city pays about 31 percent of its expenditures from federal or state grants, meaning that New Britain is 24 percent more reliant on state and federal funds. Think what the tax rate would be without that level of outside assistance? Mr. Wanik’s argument rings hollow when you look at the facts and compare New Britain to other towns.
Finally, with the Republicans openly stating their intent to cut state spending across the board, does anyone really believe that New Britain property tax payers will fare any better with Republican representatives? Even your own mayor has said that New Britain has an “over reliance on state and federal aid.” If that’s what the Republican mayor believes, his Republican legislators will certainly not be motivated to fight for additional funding as have the Democrats. Hypocrisy thy name is Republican.
Mr. Wanik may be frustrated, as we all are, with the high tax burden we face under
Mayor Stewart, but let’s be honest. State aid, which provides local tax relief, is quite substantial and, without it, property taxes would be much, much higher. Mr. Wanik’s rant is more characteristic of a Republican party chairman than the president of a taxpayers’ group. He really should be more objective.
Todd M. Szabo