West Hartford Budget Defeated

Less than 30% of West Hartford’s eligible voters turned out yesterday to vote on the Budget Referendum. Sad. The budget was soundly defeated, as 73% of those that did vote sent the message “Nice try, but go back to the drawing board, we don’t want to be taxed this much.”

So now the question is “What exactly will be cut in order to reduce the budget?” Education will most likely be the main target, as it’s the largest chunk of the budget.

My question is: what exactly is going to be the per household reduction in taxes based on the new cuts? Are we looking at the scale of a few hundred dollars per household? A few thousand dollars per household? Has this been quantified by anyone? I’m assuming it has to be a few hundred dollars per household. So to save everyone a few hundred dollars, the main draw to West Hartford, its school system, is going to continue to be sacrificed. Talk about taking a short term view. Well, I guess if everyone has an extra $300 in their pocket, they can spend it at Blue Back.

Blue Back Falls Behind…

The Hartford Courant reported today that portions of the Blue Back Square project have fallen behind schedule. While construction delays are common with new development projects, Town Manager Jim Francis reports that he is confident that the grand opening scheduled for November 1 is still on track.

A nice surprise was that the estimated tax revenue of Blue Back this year was initially projected at $500,000. They are now estimating tax revenue of $828,000. Hopefully all of the current traffic hassles from the construction will be worth it…

Celebrate West Hartford- June 2 & 3

Every year West Hartford has a weekend-long community celebration. This year’s event will take place next weekend on June 2 and 3. You can enjoy a multitude of vendors selling arts and crafts, games and rides for kids, a 5K race, and some great food. The celebration takes place in West Hartford Center along Main Street.

Celebrate West Hartford is held rain or shine. Make plans to stop by for a few hours to check out the sites and the progress of Blue Back Square. Here’s a link to the official website if you’d like more info.

A Referendum on the Way in West Hartford?

According to an article today in the Hartford Courant, the West Hartford Taxpayers Association (WHTA) is about 400 signatures away from forcing a referendum on the recently adopted town budget.

While I understand the concern that property taxes will rise by approximately 6.6% for all West Hartford homeowners, I don’t believe cutting the budget is the way to go. West Hartford draws and retains residents because of the perception of excellent services and the public school system it offers. Every weekend I see evidence of this when people from Bloomfield, New Britain, Newington, etc. flood open houses. The reason they are looking to move? “I want my kids to go to the West Hartford schools.”

If the WHTA is successful in collecting the necessary signatures, their recommendation will be to cap the budget at increases of no more than 2.5% each year. Since inflation is typically 2.5-3%, essentially they are suggesting that the town remain at status quo and just grow with inflation. However, the West Hartford school system cannot afford to shift to status quo. Since 1996, the WH public schools have seen total enrollment increase by 16.3%. Additionally, the district faces the challenge of 18% of students with English as a second language and 12% of the students qualifying for special education programs. The result of capping the budget increase would be to reduce the spending on the bulk of the students to provide necessary special services. If West Hartford wishes to maintain its reputation regarding public schools, then it needs to continue investing in the education of its youngsters. That will not be achieved by arbitrarily capping the budget.