Here is their list of complaints:
Number 1: There is very little real economic development in Mark Boughton’s budget. Instead, taxpayers will be footing the bill for brochures that promote CityCenter restaurants, seminars for CityCenter minority-language businesses and marketing materials for the Nutmeg State Games in August of 2008.Again, the Democrats raise some very interesting points which we'll examine in more detail over the next few weeks.
Danbury is a city of 44 square miles Why is economic development limited to Main Street and the Central City Business District? Don’t the other 43 square miles count? And just what is the purpose of the Danbury Downtown Council and CityCenter Danbury? They have their own taxing district and yet Mark Boughton provides them with a grant of $40,000 from the General Fund too. In addition, the city pays for replacement of the antique decorative streetlights, for the landscaping of Library Plaza, Kennedy Plaza and Elmwood Park, and for the beautiful planters and flowering baskets throughout the CityCenter district. Can’t they promote the downtown themselves?
Number 2: Mark Boughton is expanding his blight program and giving it a new politically correct name; “ Livable Neighborhoods”. It looks a SWAT team for street by street zoning enforcement. There are 4 fulltime positions; a coordinator, who happens to be a zoning enforcement officer, a deputy fire Marshall, an assistant zoning enforcement officer, and an assistant building inspector. Their stated mission is to respond to complaints about illegal apartments, blight and overcrowding. It’s complaint driven and negative. It relies on snitches, tattletales and stool pigeons to report ANY SUSPICIOUS ACTIVITY in your neighborhood.
Livable neighborhoods actually have many POSITIVE characteristics: There is mixed land use – a mix of residential, commercial, recreation and open space. There is a range of housing options from single family to multi-family, to apartment rentals to condos, in a range of prices. Liveable neighborhoods are walkable, safe neighborhoods with distinctive neighborhood features. Most of all, there is a strong sense of community and all residents participate in defining the needs and direction of their neighborhood.
ZONING INSPECTIONS DO NOT CREATE VIBRANT, COHESIVE NEIGHBORHOODS But support for the development of new community and neighborhood organizations will. The Blind Brook Neighborhood Association is a perfect model. It has turned a declining neighborhood around. But because it was the model for the Eriquez administration, you won’t find it in Mark Boughton’s budget. You’ll find the UNIT…the Unified Neighborhood Inspection Team.
Number 3: Mark Boughton has embraced the Republican mantra of corporate downsizing with his plan to consolidate the welfare department into the Health and Housing Department in this budget. It is a step in the wrong direction. We all know the pecking order in Government programs. The Feds pass the buck to the states. The States pass the buck to the towns. This is the end of the food chain. This is our village and there is no other level of government that is going to help people who fall through the cracks.
And this corporate downsizing costs more money! Scott LeRoy, the Director of Health and Housing will get a $13,000 raise to lead this new consolidated department; and his assistant, Paul Sherloh, gets a new title of “Director of Health and Welfare” and a $12,500 raise. While every surrounding town is maintaining their commitment to local social services in their budgets, Danbury, the largest town, is kicking welfare to the curb.
Number 4: Mark Boughton’s budget fails to fund the one-time, non-recurring start-up costs of the new magnet school. He graciously accepts the 21 million dollar state–of-the-art magnet school at no cost to Danbury taxpayers…an elementary school that will provide an incredible opportunity for 160 Danbury students this year and for the next 20 years to come.
Danbury is the host district and to be sure, there are recurring costs that will affect Danbury taxpayers each and every year - teacher salaries, insurance, supplies and transportation. But can anyone imagine a circumstance where adding a new school building wouldn’t add certain one-time costs. For instance, the library at the new magnet school has no books and books cannot be provided through the construction grant. The school is requesting about 25 library books per student as a “start-up cost”. That’s 7500 books this year! Mark Boughton isn’t funding them. He is providing an empty library for those kids. There is a little hypocrisy here when we know that elected officials will take credit for the new school and fight over the scissors for the official ribbon cutting.
Number 5: Just 3 months ago, the Common Council provided a big reduction in connection fees for sewer and water in the Central City Business District. The connection fee went from $1500 per dwelling unit to $500 per dwelling unit with a $2500 cap per building. Of course, this reduction would particularly benefit BRT’s large scale, high density, nine building residential development, Kennedy Place. The giveaway in connection fees will potentially cost the city $850,000. How can the Mayor justify the increase in rates on both water and sewer for users throughout the city? It is not fair. And it is not fair that a thousand gallons of water will cost you $10.79 or $16.78 or $34.70 depending on the size of your meter. After all, how many gallons of water are there in a thousand gallons of water?