Letter: A&T Democrats call for budget workshops
The following is an open letter to Mark Lauretti and Republican members of the Board of Apportionment and Taxation and submitted to The Shelton Herald for publication.
We are writing to follow up on the outcome of the meeting of the Board of Apportionment and Taxation that occurred on Friday, May 8. It is regrettable that we were not able to reach agreement to schedule a budget hearing with department heads including the Board of Education prior to discussing and voting on the proposed budget.
As we indicated at the meeting prior to our departure, we felt we had no choice but to stop the meeting to prevent an illegal vote from occurring, since the failure to hold budget hearings is in violation of the Charter of the City of Shelton, and the governor’s executive order 7HH, which requires adherence to the charter except for the deadlines and in-person voting requirements.
We would very much like to find a way to move forward on a bipartisan basis, with a joint budget hearing with the Board of Aldermen, the Board of Education representatives needed to discuss their proposed budget, and any other department heads who wish to be heard further to the questions asked regarding their budgets at the meeting on May 8. Please let us know as soon as possible whether you intend to schedule this budget hearing, and if so, what your proposed date and time are. As we did with the meeting on May 8, we can certainly submit written questions in advance to help everyone prepare to use the time efficiently, if we are given sufficient notice and the materials we need to engage in the discussion. We would request that we be provided with a complete copy of the Board of Education budget proposal to review and prepare our questions, along with an updated budget run from the city side, which we have been requesting for several weeks.
This is not about politics. This is about fulfilling our responsibilities as elected officials in the city of Shelton, to serve the public interest, and act to protect the interests of the taxpayers of the city of Shelton. We have a collective responsibility to be good stewards of the taxpayer dollars that have been entrusted to us. For the last two years, we served alongside Republican members of the Board of Apportionment and Taxation who took their responsibilities seriously, and who were prepared to roll up their sleeves, analyze the proposed budget, and make changes where it made sense to do so. We spent many late nights at City Hall poring over the proposed budget and back-up materials, asking questions, and following up with department heads to get the information we needed to make informed decisions. We may not have always agreed with one another, but we gave each other and our oath of office the respect that was due. For some reason, that same spirit does not seem to be present this year, and it is unfortunate. We have an opportunity to hit the “re-set” button here and get back on track. Let’s give the Board of Education the respect that it is due, the taxpayers the respect and transparency that they are due, and the parents and kids who attend the Shelton public schools the respect that they are due, and hear from them as to what is needed to properly fund a school system, as well as city services, for the benefit of all residents of the city of Shelton.
Thank you for your consideration.
Michelle Laubin, Steve Guralnick and Joe Knapik
Board of Apportionment and Taxation