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Greenwich Board of Estimate and Taxation {_getChooseLabel(this.selections.length)}

BOARD OF ESTIMATE AND TAXATIONUNSALARIED 2-YEAR TERM Vote for up to 6; 12 will be electedThe Board of Estimate and Taxation (BET) controls Town spending, sets fiscal policy, prepares the annual operating and capital budget based on initial budgets proposed by the First Selectman and the Board of Education, approves interim appropriations, receives funds for the Town, determines each year’s tax rate and oversees the Finance Department, the Assessor and the Tax Collector.Note: BET members elect a Chairman who must belong to the party receiving the most votes for BET candidates in that election. In the case of a tie vote, the Chairman may cast a second vote to break the tie.

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    Nisha Arora
    (Rep)

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    Michael Basham
    (Rep)

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    Bill Drake
    (Rep)

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    Laura Erickson
    (Dem)

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    Karen Fassuliotis
    (Rep)

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    Miriam Kreuzer
    (Dem)

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    Leslie Moriarty
    (Dem)

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    Dan Ozizmir
    (Rep)

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    Jeffrey Ramer
    (Dem)

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    Stephen Selbst
    (Dem)

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    Leslie L. Tarkington
    (Rep)

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    David Weisbrod
    (Dem)

Información Biográfica

Biographical Statement (300 character limit)

The town has a number of significant infrastructure, repair, and replacement/updating of capital projects. Who should make the final decision for approving capital priorities and why? (600 character limit)

The Schools have a 30 year capital plan. Some needs identified in that plan may not be completed before 2060 based on the BET's current planning and funding guidance. Is this planning timeline reasonable? If not, what would you recommend? (600 character limit)

Given current low borrowing rates, do you support incurring a long term debt (15 years or longer) to more closely match the life of a capital asset to complete requested capital projects? How much long term borrowing could the town incur and still retain its triple A rating? If you do not support incurring more long term debt, what is your solution for dealing with the significant facility capital expenditure needs facing the Town? (600 character limit)

Should the town have a nonpartisan, professional Chief Financial Officer who oversees the operating and capital budgets for the Town? (600 character limit)

Businesswoman with 20+ years private sector experience, most recently as COO of investment firms. Currently on boards of YWCA, ICC, TFI and Avon; Rutgers Engineer, Yale MBA; Committed to solving public problems. Inspired by my husband, Harry, to serve in gov’t, this will be my 1st term on the BET.
As per the town’s charter, the BET submits the final appropriations for all capital projects, subject to the RTM’s blessing. As an independent board, the BET has the responsibility to assure public money is spent effectively and prudently. This involves evaluating the needs of our community and balancing them with the availability of funds which should be done with significant public input. I believe strongly in utilizing a collaborative approach, working closely with the various town departments and elected officials to assure our community’s priorities are met.
My family’s journey is rooted in educational opportunity and academic excellence. Schools are my top focus. The Facilities Master Plan done by private consultants provides one perspective of our needs. It requires public input and our scrutiny. My objective is to prioritize our capital needs and demand better execution. The schools we built are underutilized while the ones we have not addressed are old and high capacity. The cost for most projects has been unreasonable. We can fund our schools’ needs in a timely manner if we follow a robust process and ensure prudent execution.  
The most important factor in funding capital projects is evaluating their effectiveness. Projects with high societal returns need to be financed. There is a problem when we spend $50MM to build a high school auditorium that leaks in Year 3 and likely should have cost half as much. A rebuild of Central Middle is perhaps a higher priority than renovating Julian Curtis which is currently underutilized. The prioritization, design and project execution for our schools all need improvement. We need to first address these concerns before entering a discussion about the funding process.
Per the town’s charter, the Town’s Comptroller is our CFO who oversees the operating and capital budgets for the Town.

In my review of the past projects and in my discussions with various stakeholders, it has become clear that the planning and execution of our school infrastructure projects are not up to par. There is a need for additional financial and operational oversight of the BOE’s capital allocation and spending. I intend to work with our CFO and BOE leadership to improve these processes.
Mike has lived in Greenwich since 1982. He is Chair of the RTM Finance Committee, a member of the Labor Contracts Committee and has served on other Town advisory groups and committees. He attended the U.S. Air Force Academy, has a B.S from Southern Mississippi and an M.B.A. from South Carolina.
The Town Charter requires that the First Selectman and the BOE develop their respective capital plans. The First Selectman will prioritize these projects and submit them to the BET which can modify them. The RTM has final budget approval for the projects presented with the annual budget.
The State mandates that towns prepare 5 year capital plans. While Greenwich prepares a 15 year plan, rating agencies and financial analysts acknowledge that capital planning priorities much beyond 5 years are subject to significant changes. The BET provided funding for the BOE to assess school infrastructure that resulted in the creation of the Facilities Master Plan, which recommended additional maintenance for the schools and prioritized infrastructure improvements. This is certainly a reasonable starting point for BOE planning purposes, subject to enrollment changes and unforeseen needs.
The current policy of funding capital projects results in lower interest rate costs and lower project costs. Our capital spending has been relatively consistent over the last decade, and our financial consultant notes that other towns also fund recurring levels of capital expenditures with shorter term debt. Absent dramatic increases in capital spending, our current debt policy works well. Since the credit rating agencies use many financial metrics besides total debt to establish a Town's credit rating, it is unclear exactly how a large increase in debt would impact our Aaa credit rating.
The Town employs a non-partisan CFO, or Comptroller, to oversee the operating and capital budgets.
Bill grew up in Greenwich and attended Greenwich public schools. He has served four terms on the B.E.T. He earned a B.A. from St. Lawrence University and an M.B.A. from Harvard. Bill is a retired investor and executive. On the B.E.T. he serves as Clerk and Chairman of the Audit Committee.
Our extensive infrastructure of schools and other facilities must be maintained at a high level of quality, and we must spend the citizens’ money smartly. The best practice is for one elected board to manage all spending, both on operations and infrastructure. This provides two benefits. Management of financial affairs is comprehensive, unified and coherent. Secondly, the public’s voice is paramount: spending is determined in open public meetings by the B.E.T. and R.T.M. whose members are responsible to the voters and elected every two years.
A planning period of 39 years has too much uncertainty for the out-years to be useful. The B.E.T.’s practice is to make a firm budget annually for each year, as required by Connecticut law. We also make a 15-year capital plan, which is updated annually. Every two years, the B.E.T. adopts a debt and funding policy to provide guidelines for the use of debt to fund capital projects. We should continue to use and refine these planning tools in cooperation with the Board of Education and the Representative Town Meeting.
Our sewer infrastructure has a very long useful life and is financed over 20 years. Most of the rest of our infrastructure is financed over seven years. This approach has worked extremely well for the residents of Greenwich. Our high-quality infrastructure of schools, parks, new Police and Fire Department facilities and other Town facilities is the fruit of this long-established, conservative approach to debt. Using debt sparingly has meant both low taxes and excellent infrastructure, to the benefit of every resident. The current proven approach will continue to have my strong support.
Greenwich already has a nonpartisan professional CFO: our Town Controller and CFO Peter Mynarski. The Town’s Finance and Accounting Department managed by Mr. Mynarski includes Roland Gieger, Budget and Systems Director, Natasha Yemets, Treasurer, and Megan Zanesky, Director of Risk Management, assisted by a staff of ten. All these persons are nonpartisan professionals who are highly qualified and carry out an excellent Finance function for our Town.
Resident since 1993. Current BET member. Former BOE Chair. Served 13 years on RTM. Past PTA Co-President GHS and Riverside School. Current Board member of Greenwich United Way and Norwalk Community College Foundation. Former commercial banker in technology sector. BA Middlebury College.
The Town Charter gives the First Selectman the authority to develop the annual operating (which includes funding for maintenance) and capital budgets, which then are thoroughly vetted and approved by the BET and RTM respectively. These positions are elected every 2 years. Members of the public are able to provide input through public hearings at each step. I am in favor of reconstituting a Capital Improvement Program (CIP) Project Committee in some form as a means to prioritize projects for the current year and for multi-year planning.
The Schools have a 15-year capital plan developed by an outside firm which the BOE prioritized. The BOE chair has stated that, given the current constraints of the Town’s financial model, it’s more likely a 20 year plan. This issue is a key differentiator between the two political caucuses. By exercising its tie breaking vote afforded the majority party, the Republicans voted to slash the design funds for Julian Curtiss School and eliminated an engineering study for CMS, which delays the entire plan. So, it could well be a 30 year plan, which is unacceptable and irresponsible.
The current financial model constrains our ability to fund capital priorities, and we still need to account for a resilient and sustainable infrastructure. Long term financing is a tool that should be evaluated objectively. The Town has significant excess borrowing capacity that could be utilized while retaining the top credit rating. The town already borrows 20 years for sewer projects and ladders its financing based on cash flow needs of projects. The fact that we have been talking about several of these projects over multiple years is frustrating and wasteful. Costs only go up.
I believe it is appropriate that elected officials who are accountable to the voters have the responsibility to develop and take ownership of operating and capital budgets. We have a Town Administrator who coordinates needs with the various department heads. We have an experienced Comptroller and Budget Director. It is the BET’s job as the Finance board to recommend a budget to the RTM and determine funding sources. We want to keep our property taxes low but if our Town services and infrastructure aren’t addressed responsibly, our children and grandchildren will pay.
Current BET Chair; past BET Vice-Chair; current Chair, BET HR & Law Committees; past RTM Health & Human Services Committee Chair. Practicing Attorney (CT, NY); Past Executive Director, Regulatory Affairs overseeing multi-million dollar budgets and environmental cleanups. 53-yr Greenwich resident.
Our town has an amazing variety of town services and facilities, which include great parks and schools. Our infrastructure has been built through a consensus among the various separated powers of Greenwich government. This system, successful for 100 years, balances the wants and needs of those advocating for more spending versus those arguing for moderate spending. The First Selectman is responsible for consolidating the capital priorities and presents them to the BET. The BET, and members of the RTM who represent our neighborhoods, are then responsible for deciding what is ultimately approved
The BET financed a $500,000 study by KG+D to review the maintenance and capital needs for our schools. I support the findings outlined in KG+D’s capital plan. The BOE should follow KG+D’s plan when it prioritizes capital projects. The KG+D study made it clear the BOE underfunded maintenance infrastructure to prioritize projects such as the $46 million MISA. The BOE should prioritize first, the rebuilding of obsolete schools, and the number one priority should be Central Middle School; and second, they should prioritize adding capacity to overburdened schools, namely North Mianus and Riverside.
If you buy a car and you can pay for it, don’t take out an auto loan. This is my fundamental philosophy when dealing with debt. Greenwich's robust property values have allowed our town to afford supporting our great buildings and town services. Greenwich has been very successful in improving our town facilities using cash and short term borrowing. This strategy has avoided saddling current residents and their children with future long term debt. The obvious problems with long term borrowing are seen in Hartford and Washington and must be considered in financing the taxpayers wants and needs.
The town already has professional nonpartisan, “chief financial officers” in the Comptroller and the BOE Chief Operating Officer. These individuals do a wonderful job executing the financial decisions of the BET, the Board of Ed and the RTM. The Comptroller oversees the proper spending of our tax dollars and assures that our town’s financial house is in order. If the taxpayers of Greenwich desire to change the financial management model we currently have relating to our town’s operating and capital budgets, and they wish to change the Town Charter, I would fully support whatever they decide.
BET member on Investment Advisory & HR Committees. Liaison to Parks/Rec & Retirement Board. Former RTM Member. Former Co-Head of Global Macro Research, Hedge Fund Strategies at Goldman Sachs. Former Family Centers ESL tutor. BA, Middlebury College. Greenwich resident 11 years.
The RTM should have final approval, given our rich tradition of representative democracy. However, last minute RTM cuts to projects indicates a lack of leadership in the process. The First Selectman should reconvene the Capital Improvement Program Projects Committee, including the First Selectman, the Schools Superintendent, appropriate department heads and members of the BET, BOE and the RTM. Without a strong vetting process, the BET and RTM will set their own priorities and projects will be deferred. This lack of vetting is inefficient and ultimately more costly to taxpayers.
The timeline is too long. With construction inflation 3X that of consumer price and interest rates at all-time lows, the cascading effect of project delays ultimately hurts tax payers, while compromising the quality and safety of the Town’s assets (non-ADA compliance, crumbling stairs, shored-up walls, toxic soil in playing fields). Our attractiveness versus comparable municipalities wanes. A steady contribution to the capital tax levy, selective longer term borrowing, and a capital sinking fund for excess fund balance would put us on a quicker course with low tax volatility.
Debt is a small piece (~10%) of rating agencies complex grading. Given our top tier metrics, we could issue millions in incremental long-term debt with no rating impact. There are 3 options to address our daunting capital expenditure needs without notable tax volatility:1)take the assets offline (close a school); 2)delay the timeline for execution/arbitrarily whittle down a project (ultimately more costly); 3)follow best practices and SELECTIVELY issue long-term debt for assets with a longer useful life. Option 3) is the rational solution, especially in current low interest rate environment.
We already do – our Comptroller, Peter Mynarski, who is supported by the budget director, Roland Gieger, and the entire Finance Department. Combined, they have multiple decades of experience in managing municipal finances and are consummate professionals. The question hints to the perceived partisanship and ineffectiveness of the BET. The BET’s role is to assess whether the Town can afford a service, not the merits of the services. The key to ensuring that the BET does not overreach on its core function is to have Town leadership that is strong, collaborative and communicative.
BET (2015-present); RTM (2013-15); Board of Education (2005-13, served as Chair, Vice Chair); PTA Council (2002-05, served as President). Work Experience: former Group VP for financial and strategic planning, W.R. Grace & Co. Education: BA, Wesleyan University; MBA, Harvard. 29-year resident.
The capital budget is a major concern due to years of underfunding, resulting in a large backlog and many unmet needs – like schools and playing fields. Given recent bipartisan support for appropriate funding of maintenance capital, the focus is now on renovation and improvement projects. The First Selectman and BOE are in the best positions to prioritize these projects and they should work together to set those priorities. The BET needs to support these plans with the necessary financing for timely approval and completion of these projects.
With 16 buildings and over 1 million square feet of space, the Schools will always have capital requirements. However, major renovation projects have been bunched up due to years of underfunding. This needs to stop. The BOE developed a capital plan based on the 2018 Facility Master Plan, but it has not been funded as presented. The BOE should continue to prioritize these necessary projects, focusing on accessibility and updated learning environments, with a timeline reflecting its ability to execute. The BET needs to be a better partner by approving the financing to complete these projects.
In recent years, BET members have disagreed on the funding strategy for the capital plan for three reasons. First, an artificial limitation of short term financing has been used as a tool to slow investment. Second, past underfunding of the capital account limits the current ability to finance the larger plan. Third, BET Republicans have refused to even consider long term financing for the larger and longer life projects. Judicious use of variable maturities is an appropriate funding model. It would allow the long overdue infrastructure projects to move ahead more quickly.
Implementation of budgets is currently overseen by the Town Comptroller, a nonpartisan, finance professional. For policy decisions, the Charter distributes decision-making among the First Selectman, BET, and RTM, each having jurisdiction over some part of the process but none having total control. This creates redundancies and a lack of nimbleness, but provides residents with control over key decisions, like bonding and mill rates, through elected officials. The challenge is having a representative mix of residents in the elected offices.
Dan has lived in Greenwich since 1990. He has served 5 terms on the RTM where he is currently the Chair of the Labor Contracts Committee and Vice-Chair of the Budget Overview Committee. He worked in the financial industry and earned a B.A from Columbia University.
Greenwich has a thorough capital approval process. Per the Town Charter and State Statue the process is as follows: The First Selectman (FS) and Board of Education prioritize their own capital projects and submit for the annual budget. The FS then prioritizes them and delivers the combined budget to the BET. The BET then reviews and can modify the budget, before it goes to the RTM, which has the final approval.
Greenwich has extensive infrastructure that requires continuous maintenance and investment. Last year there were over 100 individual capital projects. A planning period of 39 years entails too much uncertainty in the out-years to be useful. For example, enrollment projections have proven to be consistently too high in recent years. The town provides a 15-year capital plan in the Budget that is updated annually. Per Connecticut law, binding budgets are produced on an annual basis.
Due to Greenwich’s prudent approach to spending and debt we have the ability to borrow at low rates across the maturity curve. When reviewing our liabilities, we must also consider our unfunded pension and OPEB liability which are long-term. Based on a Moody’s report of AAA CT towns, Greenwich’s liabilities are comparable to other towns on a per Capita basis such as New Canaan, Westport and Darien. Our Debt and Fund Balance policy would allow us to increase our debt level somewhat, as we did in FY21.
The Town already has a nonpartisan, professional Chief Financial Officer (CFO), known as the Town Controller. Currently the position of Town Controller is held by Peter Mynarski. He and his team manage the Finance and Accounting, Treasury, Risk Management and Audit functions. They produce the Comprehensive Annual Financial Report (CAFR) for which they have received a Certificate of Excellence in Financial Reporting.
Retired attorney, after 37 year law practice in Greenwich with my wife, Nancy Ramer, as Ramer & Ramer. Board of Estimate & Taxation incumbent of 14 years. Former: Greenwich Board of Ethics chair; Riverside Association president; PTA president; United Way Board; Library trustee; and GEMS volunteer.
I support the current process, although neither swift nor nimble. It is a deeply collaborative process, across a decentralized municipal government. It is also the process familiar and comfortable to the Town. The requests are sourced within the individual departments and BOE. The First Selectman creates balance and prioritization in his integrated Capital Budget. The BET then probes each item in detail over about ten days of hearings at its Budget Committee, and then at a long day at the full BET. The RTM has the final word, with its power to delete or reduce any item.
Yes, I support this Long Term Capital Planning process. It obviously has diminishing validity as it projects beyond about five years. Unanticipated needs come to the forefront. Changing circumstances affect the criteria by which items were previously judged. Its purpose is to inform prioritization from the best information then presently available. It creates a visibility for projects to be addressed only in the out years, which otherwise might be obscured from the decision making process. It is a valid and useful tool, but needs to be understood with its limitations.
I support a mixture of debt maturities. We consider interest rates in whether to incur debt. So too should we consider rates in the selection of debt maturities. A mixture of maturities can match debt to the life of the asset, have the cost of financing be borne by the residents enjoying the benefit, capitalize upon moments of low interest rates, protect the Town against interruptions in its capital plan in moments of distressed capital markets, and complete a few projects sooner. I am not proposing it, but our triple A rating would remain even if our current debt were more than doubled.
The Town, of course, does have a "nonpartisan professional Chief Financial Officer" in the person of our Comptroller, supported by the Budget Director and staff. But I would not delegate to them the policy decisions of the size and composition of the Town's Operating and Capital Budgets. We readily accept and welcome their excellent advice and guidance, but I support the current process for those final policy decisions to be the business and responsibility of an elected BOE, an elected First Selectman, an elected BET, and an elected RTM.
Old Greenwich resident since 1993. Education: BA 1976 and JD 1980, University of Michigan. Work: Co-chair, Restructuring and Finance Litigation, Herrick, Feinstein LLP in New York. Former co-chair, Old Greenwich Riverside Community Center.
The Town has a substantial backlog of unmet capital needs, including schools and recreation. Given the Town’s strong finances, it can afford increased capital spending without imperiling its AAA credit rating. In addition, the events of the past year demonstrate that the impact of climate changes is accelerating. The Town needs a long-term coastal plan to address coming changes. Consistent with Town Charter, The BET, working with the First Selectman, should lead on developing appropriate capital budgets.
Greenwich’s schools are the biggest budget category and they are the glue for our community. The schools’ lists of needs continues to grow; we shouldn’t risk the excellence of our school system by starving it of needed capital funds. A capital plan that extends to 2060 is kicking the can down the road.
Given the current interest rate environment, financing long term assets with debt equal to the expected life of the assets is one attractive strategy; another would be to issue debt with staggered maturities to manage interest costs. Given Greenwich’s strong tax base, its substantial general fund reserves, and its long history of careful fiscal management, the Town could issue additional debt to fund capital improvements without sacrificing its AAA rating.
The Town is fortunate to have a capable Comptroller, supported by his staff. The Town charter allocates responsibility for spending decisions among the First Selectman, the BET, and the RTM. I would not change that process.
BET (2006-): Chair, Budget, former Chair Law, Human Resources, Board Clerk; Assessor’s Office; MISA, Witherell Building Committees. Witherell Board, Secretary. NEGA, Greenwich Symphony Boards. Financial Mgt: Citigroup; Ford Motor. MBA, Darden, UVA; BA, Connecticut College. Married. 49 Year Resident.
I support the Town Charter governance system. The BOE and other Departments submit proposed capital budgets for the upcoming and following years to the First Selectman. The First Selectman recommends a prioritized capital spending plan for all Town agencies and develops a long range capital spending plan. The Budget Committee and BET hold public hearings, and refine and approve the capital budget. The RTM makes the final decision. My goals are to control the financial demands on Greenwich taxpayers, maintain the Town’s infrastructure, and preserve the residential quality of life in Greenwich.
The Schools maintenance and capital plan should be updated and approved by the BOE after considering delivery of a superior education for all students, trends of declining student population, student teacher ratios, and providing high quality, well maintained facilities. Duplication of school improvements should be eliminated as maintenance and infrastructure replacement has been proceeding. The decisions we on the BET have made to support our schools and improve their buildings and infrastructure have enhanced and contributed to Greenwich’s status as the premier community in Connecticut.
I support the Greenwich modified pay-as-you go plan of financing over seven years, issuing two, one year bond anticipation notes, and a five year annual installment, fully amortizing bond. Larger Town projects are financed in annual tranches, resulting in longer terms. MISA’s debt extends for sixteen years. Using pay-as-you go, the Town has not left current project debt service for future generations, and is able to continue capital investment programs through adverse periods. Longer term maturities are issued for the Witherell and Sewer Improvement Funds, with dedicated revenue streams.
Town Comptroller, Peter Mynarski, is the Town’s nonpartisan, professional, experienced Comptroller. The Budget and Systems Director, Chief Accounting Officer, Treasurer, and Risk Manager report to him. Comptroller responsibilities are designated by Charter. The Comptroller is responsible for both the operating and capital budgets as well as the other responsibilities of a Chief Financial Officer including municipal debt ratings (Moody’s and Standard & Poor’s) and debt issuance. Also, the Comptroller is a voting member of the Retirement Board, which manages the defined benefit pension fund.
Former Vice Chair of JPMorgan and CEO London Clearinghouse LLC. Served as DTCC Board Director, member Federal Reserve advisory committees. Current member Financial Risk Advisory Committee, US Dept. of Treasury. Former Chair Greenwich PZBA. 36 year Greenwich resident. BA Cornell University; MBA NYU
Article Two of the Town Charter states that the RTM is the body responsible for making the final decision on Town appropriations, with the caveat that it cannot increase appropriations made by the BET. As a practical matter, Town powers are widely disbursed among the BET, RTM, Office of the Selectmen and Board of Education. This points to the need for collaborative leadership across all Town entities to ensure that Town infrastructure needs are addressed. To be emphasized are the words "collaborative leadership" as the challenges we face do not fare well in an environment of partisanship.
We need to accelerate the completion of the Schools master plan. We wouldn't defer maintenance of our homes, nor should we with public assets. We must address ADA compliance, improved air quality, accessibility, security, safety and school updating. We have very old buildings; significant investment is needed; delay will only cost more in the long run. If we start to address the financial requirement now, via a relatively modest increase in our capital tax levy, we will not drive the mill rate materially higher and will foster the necessary financial foundation to get the job done.
Nine municipalities in CT with AAA ratings utilize longer term debt and in fact Greenwich too assumed such debt in connection with Nathaniel Witherell, sewer improvement bonds and when the Town purchased the Pomerance estate. None of this had any impact on our AAA rating and indeed it is an established financial principle that debt maturities should conform with the life of a capital asset. So, yes, I do support some application of longer term debt so that the Town can benefit from historic low interest rates and move forward to fund capital requirements that have been deferred too long.
In my opinion the Town Comptroller effectively functions as a professional, nonpartisan Chief Financial Officer. The Comptroller reports to the BET and has successfully earned the respect and confidence of BET members despite different points of view that exist among individual members. I have not been part of any debate to reframe the structure of the Comptroller role but am of course open to any fresh thinking that may be presented on this topic. I will urge the BET to adopt a longer term strategic planning approach so that needs that go out beyond a one year budget cycle are addressed.