Top Ten Difficult Decisions

10.     Charter Revision

Republicans put forth a charter revision commission because we heard the voters were unhappy about budget voting process. We did this despite fears as to whether or not this would hurt one side of the budget.  The commission investigated, put forth modifications, the voters spoke, and the change was made. 

9.       Modifying the Board of Education Transfer Policy

Tighter control and clarity over spending is in the best interests of the Town, especially during tough economic times.  Under Republican leadership, this policy adjustment has led to more accountability, greater oversight and transparency in the day to day operations of the Board of Education.

8.       Teacher Negotiations

We value our teachers while, at the same time, work hard to strike a balance recognizing we work for the taxpayers of Newtown.  The outcome of the contract negotiation is consistent with the economic reality of today.  We understand that most taxpayers are getting little or no increase in their pay.  Salaries and benefits are the Town's biggest expense and Republicans work hard to strike a good balance.

7.       Reducing Newtown’s Debt

Economic pressures continue to cause us to rearrange and re-evaluate capital projects.  Borrowing is not always the best path and as a result Republicans have instituted a debt reduction plan which is well under way.  Other ways we have reduced borrowing costs is to partner with private organizations and donors and to save and pay for other large purchases that we may have normally paid for.  Flexibility, planning, and living within your means is what Republicans’ believe is the right thing to do.  

6.       Discussion about Facilities Usage

Republicans have advocated for open dialog concerning Newtown's changing demographics and how this might affect the usage of school and town buildings.  This is a difficult conversation because space utilization, specifically where our children attend school, can be an emotional topic.  Prudent planning requires that we try to look into the future as best we can.  Republicans believe it is important to have these discussions as a community and we think these discussions should be ongoing.

5.       Self-Funded Health Insurance

Looking for savings in operational expenses, Republicans proposed self-funded health insurance.  Although this strayed from past practices and was met with skepticism, Republicans advocated for the change.  In the end, Republican led government passed an ordinance to protect and oversee the funds, there were no change to the benefits, and Newtown will be saving millions of dollars. 

4.       Sticking with the Fund Balance Policy

It’s hard to save in difficult economic times.  Our fund balance is our emergency fund.  It is a good thing that we have been saving because this emergency fund is what got us through the last 10 months with all of the unbudgeted emergency services needed in the first half of 2013.  It has also contributed to a strong financial standing saving Newtown millions of dollars in interest payments over time.

3.       Adding Full Day Kindergarten

Despite the economic pressures for the town budget and in the face of challenging referenda, Republicans recognized it was essential to balance the needs of all families, and moved the Full Day Kindergarten initiative forward throughout the budget process.  This is a hallmark example of Republicans supporting excellence in education. 

2.       Adding Money for School Security

The decision to use extraordinary measures to protect our children after the events of 12/14 was not a difficult one. However, the timing did not allow for much deliberation and contemplation.  The Board of Education and Board of Selectman budgets had already been presented.  As we were reeling from the events, there were many questions to be answered, and there were varied opinions.  We chose an unconventional path to make sure our children were safe.  We put money into our reserves in case federal grants did not come through on time or at all to help with the expense.  Our foresight proved critical, as the money put aside was needed for security for the start of the school year this fall.  To date, we still don’t know if those grants are going to come through fully.

1.       Deciding the Future of Sandy Hook School

There is no road map for what our Town has faced over the last 10 months, and so many of our decisions have been filled with extreme emotion.  Deciding the future of Sandy Hook School was difficult in that there were still concerns about enrollment, the best location for the school and the strong need to keep the Sandy Hook staff and families together. Strong leadership, led by First Selectman Pat Llodra, has helped us navigate through this decision.  Republicans are proud to be a part of the group of 28 elected officials, coming together in a unanimous decision to locate Sandy Hook School in it’s original neighborhood.

 

What do Republicans Think?

You never know what challenges you are going to face, but having strong values helps you find the way.  This does not make difficult decisions any easier but your vision will be more clear.  As Republicans we continue to serve the Town we love and we do our best to make it better.