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Letter to the Editor: Support for Chris Barnes

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To the Editor:

The Metropolitan District Commission (MDC) has become a central issue for West Hartford voters in the race for the General Assembly’s 19th District, and rightfully so, because whether its the protection and conservation of our water or the taxes which the MDC levies on West Hartford and its residents – the MDC gets it wrong and we suffer. As catalogued below, only one candidate in the race for the 19th has actually stood-up to the MDC and fought for you and that candidate is Chris Barnes.

On the environmental front, Chris Barnes was a leader on the issue of protecting our water and fighting the Niagara Bottling Company’s deal with the MDC when it first arose. He worked in a bi-partisan fashion to try and stop it – and just as importantly – bring the deal out of the shadows and into the public square. He attended many West Hartford Concerned Citizens meetings on the issue and publicly supported Sen. Beth Bye’s SB 422 to fight the deal. His opposition to the deal culminated in a letter which he – along with Minority Leader Denise Hall and myself – drafted and sent to Senator Bye in which we not only expressed support for SB 422 but emphasized (1) the need to prioritize residential consumption of water over commercial entities – such as Niagara – in a time of drought, (2) encouraged a prohibition against the sale of water to water-bottling entities at a discount and (3) pro-actively rang the alarm-bell of concern that MDC’s ad valorem taxing structure was disproportionately punitive on West Hartford residents and called for change. We-Ha.com published the letter which is available via this link: https://we-ha.com/west-hartford-town-council-members-issue-opinion-letters-on-mdc-niagara-water-deal/

On the fiscal front, the MDC’s practices have been punitive to West Hartford residents. A West
Hartford resident pays two bills to the MDC: your home water consumption bill and the Town’s yearly ad valorem tax payment to the MDC. With respect to the former, the MDC charged approximately $1.96 per hundred cubic feet of water in 2007, now its $2.66. Regarding the latter, the Town’s ad valorem tax payment for fiscal year 2017 was increased $526,350 from the prior year and totaled approximately $9,000,000 – an increase of approximately $1,000,000 over the previous two fiscal years alone. Just two weeks ago the MDC informed Town officials that the projected tax levied on West Hartford would increase by roughly $1,500,000 – or a tripling of the prior year’s increase. What’s more, the MDC has raised the prospect that it may increase the Town’s ad valorem tax bill up to approximately $7,300,000 to protect itself against a potential Hartford bankruptcy. Chris Barnes is on record as denouncing these exponential cost increases and identifying them for what they are – wholly unsustainable and unacceptable.

The MDC’s practices show a consistent disregard for residents’ right to open discourse, their environmental concerns and their pocket-books. Even in the face of public outrage, it has demonstrated no willingness to change its course. That’s why it is more important than ever that we elect a person with a record of standing up to the MDC – a person who has attended public meetings to try and stop the Niagara deal, been on the record denouncing its practices and documented those positions. Chris Barnes – a proven advocate on MDC issues – has done those things. To my knowledge, his opponent has not. Please join me in supporting Chris Barnes on November 8th.

Chris Williams
West Hartford

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