Letter: Lauretti budget a desperate plea to remain in power

Below is a Letter to the Editor from this week's Shelton Herald. If you'd like to have a letter to the editor run next week, email letters to brian.gioiele@hearstmediact.com

Below is a Letter to the Editor from this week's Shelton Herald. If you'd like to have a letter to the editor run next week, email letters to brian.gioiele@hearstmediact.com

Contributed photo

To the Editor:

For those of you who may have missed it, Mayor Mark Lauretti's annual budget presentation was particularly difficult to listen to this year. For the majority of the 12-minute presentation, it felt like an April fools joke gone awry with the audience and our city almost waiting for a punchline that never came.

On the surface it was disconcerting because the mayor mentioned both rape, a reference to an alleged assault by one of our own volunteer firefighters, and some kind of socialist agenda. What was notably missing was talk of how things are going to improve for our city as our world is poised to emerge from the global coronavirus pandemic.

The mayor over the last 30 years has had one move: Grow the grand list at a pace that is greater than the tax burden to run the city. For a portion of his early tenure, this worked out as office space and other smart development were added to the tax rolls. However, since the financial collapse of 2008, that type of development has proven to not be sustainable.

Economics is about balance and if you drive up and down the major thoroughfares of our town, one has to notice that outside most of these retail and commercial spaces, very large “space available” signs have resided for quite some time. We have way too much supply and a ton of space that has been unoccupied for way too long. That is the reason for our economic woes over the past half dozen years. The mayor has absolutely no plan on what to do next. He only has one move, build more no matter what, whether our community needs it or the economy of our town can actually support it. There is no better example of the oversaturation of our commercial and retail spaces than the stalled Fountain Square development on Bridgeport Avenue.

I suspect the mayor knows he is in severe political trouble. People are not pleased with how our town has handled our business. Services are not up to the standards people expect, crime is on the rise, roads are in disrepair, there is litter along our roads and in our parks and our education system, which should be our biggest selling point to people who are looking to move to the area, is severely underfunded. If you notice, the mayor has even changed his biennial campaign drum beat from "low taxes" to the new and increasingly vague "tax stability" because I suspect even he knows that an economic bell is about to toll.

We are entering into a brave new economic world if we are not already there. More and more commerce is being done in unique and, yes, remote ways. Working remotely is a big part of future business models. Our economy has shifted and things like office and retail space are becoming as antiquated as the mayor’s grand list growth philosophy. We should be talking about high capacity broadband internet and fulfillment spaces for e-commerce in our town, but those ideas are too new and too fresh for the mayor. He rather attempts to divert your attention with lunacy about socialism while insisting that we need more office, medical and retail space like Shelter Ridge. We already have an unimaginable surplus of similar space, but he wants more for the simple reason it adds to the tax rolls. His go-to move will not work anymore. He is out of ideas and we all know it. I assure you, with new and forward thinking ideas and solid envisionary leadership, our taxes will remain low. I implore my fellow citizens to realize the mayor’s budget for what it is, a desperate plea by an antiquated politician to remain in power even when he himself realizes that his time is up.

Take a moment and dream about how beautiful our city could be if we had fresh, energized leadership that can envision modern revenue streams. Envision a safer community with beautiful litter-free spaces, an education system to be proud of along with continued tax stability.

It is all within our grasp, we just have to have the courage to take it this November.

David Gidwani

Republican 1st Ward Alderman