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Richard Balestracci

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Party: Republican

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Age: 32

Marital Status: Married

Current Residence: Stonington

Current Job: Assistant Vice President Commercial Loan Officer

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Education: MBA - University of New Haven / B.A. Economics - University of CT

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Ctnj 75
Why are you running for this office?
Between all of the budgetary turmoil on the State level and the staggering impacts that it could have on our town, I want to help navigate these hurdles with an open mind, with foresight and compromise, to ensure my children grow up in the same great community that I did. I believe the Town of Stonington has done an excellent job in navigating these hurdles in a fiscally conservative approach, and the challenge to continue to balance the needs of our community with the resources available is appealing to me given my commitment to the community and financial/ banking background.
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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 most pressing issue for the town is navigating the uncertainty of State funding. The failure of the democratic led House and Senate to pass a responsible budget timely is placing undue burden on municipalities across the state. Fiscally responsible town's like Stonington are being penalized at a time when we have one of the town's largest bonded projects in history - a project that has been carefully budgeted and planned over the course of several years. As a Board of Finance member, I would approach the fiscal constraints ahead with an open mind, and most importantly, an attitude of cooperation, to ensure the many needs of our community are balanced in a fair and methodical approach.
Ctnj 75
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?
Stonington has a lot to offer. We have many opportunities to grow and expand our grand list, with several projects on the horizon - many of which have come together by the great work and cooperation between the town's Planning Department, Planning and Zoning Commission, and Economic Development Commission. In addition, our Board of Education is actively pursuing savings opportunities by consolidating the Middle Schools, given the declining school enrollment trends. The future of our town will be dependent on all of us working together for the best interests of our town, while maintaining the character and values we all love about our community.
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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?
Whether or not the legislature permits revenue raising through other methods, does not mean Stonington will need to adopt those methods. Stonington has enjoyed one of the lowest mill rates in the state for years, due to the fiscally conservative approach of our past Board of Finance members. Maintaining that low mill rate will be essential to our town to move forward, attract new development, keep our homes affordable for young families and retirees, and provide flexibility to manage the capital needs of the town going forward. A new tax would be detrimental to the future of our town, and drive out the people that make Stonington our community.
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Are you in favor of regionalizing more services in conjunction with other nearby communities? If so, which ones?
I am in favor of regionalizing certain services provided. It would largely depend on the service, however, as with any issue, I would want to approach each service separately and methodically, and most importantly, with adequate feedback from the stakeholders involved. The factors that I see as crucial to the decisions are, will the regionalization make our town safer? Will it provide for meaningful cost savings? And are the residents losing control of something that is otherwise unique to the town?
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Should your school district get the same amount of education funding from the state if your district's enrollment is dropping?
I believe enrollment trends should be one factor of many that are included in the formula for State funding for our school's. Many economic variables come into play regarding enrollment trends, and given the high level of fixed costs associated with running a school, enrollment trends cannot be tied solely to the funding formula. However, in prudence, the town should monitor these trends with foresight, and plan accordingly to reduce spending wherever possible.
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What's one thing most people don't know about you?
Each year I set out goals for myself, typically in March or April, so it is after the New Years Resolutions. The goals have varied, from running a half marathon, to learning a new skill, to volunteering for a new activity. Each year is different, but it's important to continually push our boundaries and limits.