Letters to the Editor

Letters to the Editor

Record-Journal

Make yourvoice heard

Editor:

The Town Council voted to send the town budget to referendum on Tuesday, April 30 with reductions to both the town and the Board of Education budgets. Both budgets still contain increases over last year’s funding level.

The Republican majority reduced a portion of the proposed increases in each budget.

The majority voted for reductions in order to reduce the proposed mill rate. The minority did not agree and supported a larger tax increase.

Before the council voted on the budget, I reached out to the BOE and Board of Finance, and asked them to work with the Town Council to make a change to the proposed budget that would have reduced the mill rate with less reductions to both the town and BOE budgets.

The BOE and BOF declined my offer, which resulted in the reductions made by the majority members of the Town Council.

The majority on the council has done everything we can to keep costs down and thereby keep the taxes as low as possible while not compromising services.

Unfortunately, the major driver of the budget is the impact of our debt payments that are approximately 12 percent of our budget this year. According to our auditors, they should be around 4 percent.

Prior councils, before this majority was elected, borrowed amounts between $10 million-$12 million a year for many years. We continue to increase payments to our pension fund that also was not properly funded in past years. These debt payments are now due and make it difficult to fund the town and the Board of Education without some increase in the mill rate.

I urge the voters of Berlin to vote in the referendum on April 30, and tell your elected officials your opinion on next year’s budget.

Mayor Mark Kaczynski

Time fora straight answer

Editor:

At last year’s budget meeting with the Board of Finance and Berlin BOE, BOF Finance Member Kevin Guite asked Superintendent Brian Benigni and BOE member Jake Fisher to explain the open choice program. One would think that the answer would be that we accept kids from other school districts because we teach kids to read with phonics and handwriting skills by the end first grade, or some other educational reason.

The simple answer that was given, was that these kids come with more money.

I bring the reading topic up because it is well known that cities like Hartford have on ongoing fight with the State Dept. of Education on how to teach kids to read, and that battle is between teaching “whole word method” or “phonics.”

Phonics, in conjunction with handwriting, is the only proven way to have kids reading by the end of first grade. “Whole word method,” which teaches kids to memorize sight words, has failed miserably.

So what happens to the kids that come here? Are they up to grade level in reading skills?

Or does the school system just push these kids into special education programs, because that’s the only place they can get extra help? And is this inflating our education costs?

Does the BOE inflate the number of seats in our budget paid for by the taxpayers of Berlin, knowing they won’t be filled, so that we can get an extra $6,000 to $8,000 per-student from Hartford to keep the status quo and not reduce the school budget based on the declining school population?

It would be nice to get a straight answer, and not a misdirected, confusing common core math answer.

Brenden Luddy

Republican Deputy Mayor

Vote no

Editor:

Let me get this straight. According to the Board of Education, the cost to educate a child in Berlin is a staggering $16,457. However, by their own admission, enrollment in Berlin schools is down. Instead of consolidating classrooms, restructuring administrators and exercising cost-savings measures, the BOE decided to “find additional funding to allow them to maintain staff that would have otherwise been eliminated based on an inadequate operational budget.” So, the BOE decided to “puff up” their classroom numbers by importing children from Hartford. All for a low-priced reimbursement rate of only $8,000 per student!

Well folks, I was never the best at math, but by my calculation that means Berlin taxpayers are now on the hook for $8,457 for each Hartford student. And by how many students? 100?

Now the BOE wants more money. Say no to their increase. It’s time for the BOE to start living within its means and learn how to spend our money wisely. On Tuesday April 30, vote no to any Board of Education increase.

Joan Veley

Berlin

Well done,Republicans

Editor:

A big thank you to Mayor Mark Kaczynski and the three Republican council members, Brenden Luddy, Alex Giannone and Charlie Paonessa, for passing a no toll resolution, showing our governor and state legislators how misguided most people think this effort to over-tax us yet again is.

I’m disappointed the vote was not unanimous, as it would have sent an even stronger message to Hartford. Democrats Karen Pagliaro, JoAnn Stetson and Peter Rosso are thoughtful council members and strong supporters of our town. It’s difficult to  understand why they think tolls would be a good thing for our town. 

Steven Wilson

Kensington

Tired of the negativity

Editor:

It was good to finally see some coverage by The Citizen of the BHS girls basketball team a number of weeks ago. From what I heard they had a great season (not that we saw much coverage in this paper) and won a few playoff games, falling just short of going to Mohegan Sun for the state finals.

Congratulations to Coach Shelia King and the team. It was sad that the article about their last game initially focused on the other team and not the Redcoats. This was the Citizens chance to recognize their great season and let Berlin residents feel proud, but I think they fell short in their reporting.

The town and our local newspaper need to focus on good news like this and stop making us read about the political fighting between the two parties. A good sports season always creates a “feel good” situation for town residents. Do not underestimate the power of positive feelings/thinking.

We are now into budget season and the ugliness will be in our face as the political parties point fingers and play the blame game.  I hope other town voters are as tired of this as I am and start sending stronger messages when voting. It has gotten to the point I am thinking like the old time movie Brewster’s Millions, when Richard Pryor told everyone to vote “none of the above.” I wonder how many of us would take advantage of that option if it was really offered?  

Let’s send a message to both political parties and have a strong turnout for the budget vote this year. Show the rest of the state that the residents of Berlin care and want their voices heard. I don’t care how you vote; just exercise your right to vote – it only takes a few minutes.  It is what really makes this country great.

Brian Pskowski

Berlin

Game over

Editor:

The town budget has arrived! Now’s the time for us, the voters, to determine if we want to accept or reject it.

Lately, there have been plenty of articles by the Board of Education stating how “underfunded” our education system is. This argument is made year after year, and I know most of us understand how tilted their stance is.

Reality: Our student population has drastically declined. So, in order to “shore up” enrollment numbers, the board has taken to bussing students from Hartford, thus securing the need for administrative jobs and maintaining school personnel numbers.

But wait! What you need to know is that the taxpayer gets the burden of paying for them. Hartford only partially pays. That’s $8,457 additional, per bussed child, out of our pockets. That is some fancy shell game.

Tell the BOE the game is over. On Tuesday, April 30 vote no/too high on the BOE budget.

Theresa Tonina

Berlin


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