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Timothy O'Brien

Running for Board of Finance

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Party: Democrat

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Current Residence: Stonington

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Why are you running for this office?
I am running to continue the work I have been doing with the Board of Finance. Namely I would like to continue to provide fiscal oversight for the town and try and continue to provide a community where all residents can have the services they need without being overly burdened.
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 Board of Finance is balancing how the state budget is affecting the town budget, as well as monitoring the debts during the largest capital project the town has ever undertaken. Its a fine balancing act that I feel has been well managed to this point and I hope it continues.
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 Board of Finance has already been putting contingency plans in place for the uncertainty that the state is providing us. I feel these contingencies will allow Stonington to get through this budget cycle in decent shape, but the following years may need a tougher look for where changes need to be made. The state is unreliable currently, and we have to continue to run Stonington better than the state runs itself.
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?
I would love to change the reliance on only property tax to fund the town activities. This would need to be accomplished with changes from the legislature. There are other ideas that have been floated around, but the impact to all residents would need to be examined. Fundamentally relying on property taxes is something that isnt fair across the board.
Are you in favor of regionalizing more services in conjunction with other nearby communities? If so, which ones?
The regionalizing of services is something that has been discussed in town for many years. There are advantages and disadvantages to this. I think that given the uncertainty of funding from the state, I would be very cautious about regionalizing at this time. Many other towns are not in the same fiscal shape Stonington is, so a fair distribution of costs may not be achievable at this time.
Should your school district get the same amount of education funding from the state if your district's enrollment is dropping?
The ECS formula has never been fair. The entire formula needs to be evaluated and improved. Additionally there needs to be a manner or method that the costs and reimbursements for special needs students follows the student. The impact to towns from a student moving in or out can be enormous. Those are larger issues than evaluating funding with declining enrollment.
What's one thing most people don't know about you?
One thing most don't know is that I went to college at the University of Vermont, but came back every summer to Stonington so I could be on the water sailing. Its very special to be able to have access to the waters around the town!