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To the Editor:
It is such a privilege to serve the Town of West Hartford. As your Mayor and Democratic Town Councilors, all of you – the residents of West Hartford – are our priority. We work hard every day to make West Hartford better.
With Democratic leadership over the past 16 years West Hartford is a thriving, diverse, vibrant and safe community. West Hartford continues to be recognized nationally as a great place to live, work, raise a family and retire.
Just as important, our town is recognized for prudent and responsible local Government – this is no more evident than in West Hartford’s AAA bond rating, the top fiscal rating for its credit worthiness. No large, inner ring suburban community in our state or even the country can match our record.
Our residents are engaged and smart. They expect and demand a lot from us.
They deserve honest, thoughtful, respectful, dignified and strong leadership. We aim to lead with these qualities every day.
So in this extraordinarily challenging budget environment, accurate, truthful information and thoughtful decisions are critical. You may have read that the recently passed town budget included no cuts. This is simply not true.
In fact, both the school and town administrations responded to the Governor’s budget by making significant reductions across the board. These reductions totaled over $5 million dollars and included staff positions, supplies and capital projects.
Our priority was to maximize productivity and efficiency while still providing high level education and town services. Our per pupil spending is 128 out of 169 towns. Given our position as one of the best school systems in the country, this relatively low per pupil spending is very strong evidence of how Democratic leadership has been able to maximize the town’s expenditures.
In this uncertain and nerve-racking budget cycle, my Democratic colleagues and I have been prudent, responsible and disciplined. You may also have read that the recently passed town budget gave no consideration to the Governor’s budget with respect to the dramatically cut state aid to West Hartford. This again is simply not true.
In fact, we set aside a $7 million contingency fund in case of reductions to our Education Cost Sharing grant (ECS). Although we are hopeful the State fulfills its obligation to provide the right to a free public education by funding the ECS grant in accordance with their own formula, this contingency fund will help keep our budget in balance.
No question, these are challenging times but we have been through adversity before, such as the financial collapse in 2008 and the October snowstorm. We have made it through by being a team and working together to protect and strengthen our community.
This is no time to be untruthful. This is no time to be partisan and petty. It IS time to be unified to fight for our amazing community of West Hartford.
Mayor Shari Cantor
Deputy Mayor Leon Davidoff
Councilors Beth Kerrigan, Ben Wenograd, Judy Casperson and Dallas Dodge