At the onset of the pandemic, the Board of Finance, primarily Richard Freedman its Chairman, determined the budget process needed to be modified and, concerned about the effects of COVID on our residents, led the city to a 0% tax increase. That was quite an endeavor and I had the opportunity to participate as a member of the Board of Representatives (2013-2021). It was a hard process, given the Mayor had already submitted his budget with proposed tax increases. But 0% tax increases are possible. I think the Board of Finance should be proactively involved, in some manner, as the Mayor and the BOE develop their respective budgets and possibly provide some guideposts which will inevitably save time and minimize the tax burden on our residents, rather than be solely reactive.
A child born in Stamford today may spend most of his/her educational life in extraordinarily poor school buildings. As we move forward to address this problem, we need to balance fiscal responsibility with the urgent needs at our schools. It is a serious issue for all homeowners in Stamford, even if you have no children in the school system. Our property values are very much correlated with the quality of the education we provide, including the physical plant, and as a picture says a thousand words so too, any family thinking about raising a family here needs to be greeted with schools that are safe, well maintained and properly administered. We need a Marshall Plan here in Stamford in how we educate our children and the facilities in which we accommodate a learning environment.
Technology has been revolutionizing how the private sector operates in a competitive world. The downside of that is that companies can operate with less employees. Government, on the other hand, spends for technology but we never see much in the way of savings on the employee costs. I am not proposing that we use technology to terminate city employees but we have to begin to bend the curve of our employee costs, including pensions. Technology, over the long term, will help us to accomplish this goal. Better contract negotiations can also help to bend that cost curve and we have to continue along that path as well.