This op-ed original appeared in the Fairfield Minuteman on May 6th, 2014
This has been my fifth year participating in Fairfield’s budget process as a department head, and while the personalities of the town boards have changed, a disturbing pattern has become clear.
Every year, the education budget is presented with the smallest increases needed to meet rising costs from Federal and state mandates, a growing student population, and pressure from inflation. And every year, this budget is cut to less than what we need to keep services intact—but not by enough to stop a growing property tax rate.
School programs get cut, taxes go up, and citizens who try in good faith to improve the quality of life in Fairfield walk away demoralized. And the greatest cost is to the ties that bind our community together: our inter-generational compact, that those who work are responsible for the well-being of the young and the elderly alike, is getting more frayed with each passing year.
If we want change, we must recognize the valid concerns of advocates on both sides of the debate and look beyond the local arena to solve the larger, systemic problem.