What's one thing most people don't know about you?
I love riding my motorcycle, music and photography. I have a love of history and its impacts that are felt today. I have been a state 4-H Public Speaking Judge for the past 5 years and still teach young folks public speaking and presentation skills.
Are you in favor of regionalizing more services in conjunction with other nearby communities? If so, which ones?
The property tax sustainability question feeds right into exploring regionalization of services and I think it is a concept to be explored, as well as other options. Regionalization can be investigated with schools and probably other town services, where it makes sense. The caution here when cost is the driving factor, are the 'soft' tasks and processes that generally get overlooked. Those 'small efforts' fall through the cracks and impact the projected efficiencies. We would need to map out what would make sense and realize that some things may not work, but it is a concept worth an open discussion with everyone together for what is best for Tolland.
Why are you running for this office?
Tolland has been good to my family and me and that has made me passionate about this town. It is a vibrant community that has allowed my children to enjoy memorable experiences because of its quality of life. As challenges are always surfacing, in addition to the major ones now, I believe my skills and a fresh perspective together with inputs from my neighbors, will produce viable solutions. Working together we can address issues and ensure living here in Tolland is a great experience for everyone.
What is the most pressing local issue facing your community and how would you solve it (within the capacity of the office for which you are running)?
The budget issue without question is one of the most pressing issue facing Tolland. Crumbling basements, homeowner tax relief and the continued enhancement of our schools round out what for many are paramount concerns. Collectively, in town efforts have been undertaken to circumvent as best as possible, an unprecedented budget issue Tolland and other municipalities are facing. There are no easy answers to deal with this historic budget scenario. Dedicated folks in our community have and are still dealing with crafting a viable budget without solid dollar figures from the state. I will continue the collaboration and teamwork with the various town agencies and our residents to reach together a viable solution. I will seek innovative ideas from the community, as well as investigating what may have worked in towns faced with similar issues, in and outside the state. I am a true believer that someone has the concept that will lead to a resolution. Ultimately, such collaboration would involve compromise against this budget backdrop to deal with such a difficult issue. We will need to pull together for Tolland.
With the state's ongoing budget crisis looming over the election, what are your plans for your community's budget? Is there anything you can do make your town less dependent on revenue from the state?
The cloud of the state's budget crisis has placed Tolland in unfamiliar territory and will be on the minds of most voters. And as with many issues, people are passionate about critical issues and want solutions. I would look to work with my colleagues, the various town entities and residents to collectively channel their inputs into what we could develop together that would work best for Tolland. We can do this because I believe we have folks here in town and partner professionals working with us, with great ideas and innovations that can be applied to address the crisis we have been dealt.
As for reducing reliance on the state for revenue, it seems fairly evident that this is the direction being pursued at the state level. If this is the end state, a phased in approach that allows Tolland time to absorb these proposed adjustments and secure sustainable sources of revenue replacement, in union with cost reductions should be considered. This will require some hard discussions with the state, various agencies and other municipalities on what avenues are available to assist with reducing revenue dependence on the state. This cannot be a light switch type approach for such would devastate various functions in terms of services and education.
The legislature has been debating various ideas to allow towns to raise revenue locally through something other than property taxes. If you could ease your residents' property tax burden by adding another method of taxation, is there anything you might consider for your town?
As former formulas on the reliance solely of property taxes for revenue begin to face unsustainable levels, it will be a balancing act for us here in Tolland, because of the quality of life is what drew most of us to live here. The question is how do we balance the need to grow a sustainable revenue base, in a rural setting that is supported by all. Other towns have faced this same proposition and many have succeeded in addressing such needs. We should explore what worked and what did not work for other municipalities throughout the country and use as a guide what additional revenue bases we can formulate here in Tolland. I'd rather seek business growth that makes sense for Tolland that is viable and conducive to the setting here in town. As for adding another method of taxation, that is an avenue I'd rather not pursue, because like most people I think revenue generation is more acceptable over addition taxes.
Should your school district get the same amount of education funding from the state if your district's enrollment is dropping?
I don't' have a yes, or no answer for this question, but here is what I do think about this. If the formula for education funding from the state is solely based on enrollment levels and costs such as maintenance increase, teachers benefits, overall technology upgrades for teaching are not factored in, then I would see a problem long term. Regionalization would be a topic to be considered if such enrollment rates were to be realized.
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