Thursday, May 18, 2017
Westport First Selectman Jim Marpe and Weston First Selectman Nina Daniel told the Y’s Men of Westport Weston today that the state’s fiscal crisis, despite their best efforts, will impact their communities.
Both agreed their towns are great places to live and until now somewhat immune to Hartford’s fiscal malaise, but they do not exist in a bubble.
In the group’s annual selectmen state-of-the-towns discussion – this year moderated by WestportNow Associate Editor James Lomuscio—Marpe noted that the Board of Finance Wednesday night left the town’s mill rate unchanged.
“It was five months of hard work, but it felt like five years,” he said. He said “very aggressive” actions by town departments and the school board assumed no revenue from the state.
Depending on events in the next few months, however, Marpe said there may be a need to adjust the mill rate. “We hope that doesn’t happen,” he said referring to the state’s attempt to shift a portion of teacher pension costs to municipalities.
But he warned while there may not be a state income tax increase, the administration of Gov. Dannel P. Malloy is likely to raise funds through increased sales and conveyance taxes and eventually tolls.
Marpe lamented the fact that many state residents have moved out of state or spend most of their time away from Connecticut to avoid state taxes here.
“Some people in this room spend 183 days out of state,” he said, looking out at his audience made up of mostly retirees.
“I view my job these days to make Westport as attractive as possible,” Marpe said, ticking off some of the town’s crown jewels, and ending on the Center for Senior Activities.
“We are packed to the gills there and need expansion,” he said, adding the Board of Finance is on the verge next month of approving a $3.9 million expansion appropriation.
Marpe said social media has presented one of his biggest challenges. He said he gets more than 100 emails a day and senders have stepped up expectations for a quick response to their concerns.
Social media has also resulted in traffic problems, Marpe said. He explained that he drives daily from his home in the Greens Farms area to Town Hall via Hillandale Road and in the past six months or so has seen increased traffic.
He speculated that drivers are using the Waze traffic app to avoid congestion on I-95 or Post Road East.
Turning to politics, Marpe said, “I guess you heard I am running again,” although the Republican Town Committee has yet to make him the official candidate. “I have a lot of unfinished business,” he said.
Marpe said he has run a nonpartisan administration, appointing people to positions regardless of their party affiliation, even someone who ran against him (Democratic Selectman Helen Garten.)
In answer to a question what they would do if they were governor, both Marpe and Daniels cited getting spending under control and other measures but made clear neither had any interest in the job.
“The job of governor is not for the faint of heart,” Marpe said.
Posted 05/18/17 at 03:44 PM Permalink