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Letter: Fairfield is No Longer Homespun, Multi-Generational Community

The following letter was submitted by Kate Daniello, a member of the group Fairfield for Good Government.

I was three months pregnant when I moved to Fairfield in 1984. Jacky Durrell was the First Selectman. Other than the arrival of my family, some of the big events that year included: the opening of the Route 8 Expressway, the first major north-south artery in the state; the creation of 84 two-acre home sites in a development called “The Ridge” and continued heated debate about going to one high school due to a shrinking student population.The Fairfield Store was in its 63rd year, and Mercurio’s was still across the street.  According to a NY Times article in December 1985, property taxes on a $500,000 home, based then on 45 percent of its value and a mill rate of 25.20, were $5,670.

Fairfield was a “homespun” town back then, in the sense that as many as three generations of local families were still thriving here. Most of our teachers, librarians, police and fire chiefs all lived in the community, along with my heating oil delivery man and many local businesses owners.  

Now, 28 years later, the exact opposite is the case.

Most of the town’s employees, from the First Selectman to the secretaries at the Board of Education, do not own property in town, and do not have to pay a tax bill that increases each year without fail. The taxes this year on that $500,000 home which is now worth around $ 1.2 million are almost $ 20,000 (based on the housing price index for CT published by the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis and which is now assessed on 70 percent of its value and taxed at a 23.37 mill rate). Our taxes have gone up at an annual growth rate of almost 5 percent. Inflation over the same period has been less than 3 percent annually.

The fact that so many of our public employees do not pay taxes in Fairfield makes it much more difficult to explain to them why we can no longer afford all of the services that the town is providing. The increase in property taxes that residents have absorbed over the last 10 years has changed  the fabric of our community. Seniors feel as though they have to move out, our elected officials are renting apartments, local business owners have closed their shops and younger generations no longer feel that they can afford a home in Fairfield.   

Kate Daniello

Fairfield for Good Government

Jim Eastwood January 23, 2013 at 11:05 AM
Kate Well said !!!! For the 2 to 5 set seems to rule---Thats Blow into Town, demand the best(Schools ,Beachs etc) and then Leave Town for a "less Expensive" area to live--Leaving US(YOU and ME ) to pay the bill $$$$$$. I hear we are going to add on to Fairfield Rodger Ludlow High school--HA--WHY didn't we leave the OLD RODGER LUDLOW High school intact--You new comers could not even leave the ORGINAL school Colors !!! Third Train Station ???? Why ??? Fees for Towns people to use the PUBLIC Beachs WHY ?? And it goes On and On !!! As Far as Public employees not living in Town-----WHO CAN AFFORD TO????? Bring back some Tax paying property , some Commercial property(Which might even bring real jobs !!!) The Town was Great in the 70's and 80's and Had More people living here--What happened???? Have a Great Day(and Continue to Pay and Pay !!!!!)
Igor January 23, 2013 at 12:25 PM
Nicely put Kate. I am a senior and on the verge of retiring. If I do then I have to sell my house and move. My entire adult life has been in Fairfield. I've supported the town with my taxes and purchases. My children have gone to school here. I coached sports and lead cub scout packs. Now in the time of my life that I should be able to sit back and enjoy the fruits of my labors, I find myself starting a new in a different state. I basically blame part on poor leadership and partly because we let them get away with it. We need a change. What I believe also is we have to get back to basics. We can't afford to have programs that only benefit a few. I'm sorry if some have to go without, but we can't afford everything. Whatever happened to the majority rules? Now it seems like all the special interest groups have the rights and the majority have to just take it.
Brian January 23, 2013 at 12:55 PM
Kate, Condos in Waterbury are going for 45K. Alternatives exist. People/families do come and go. Should they have to stay according to Good Government? Not so good. If P&Z can't/won't/doesn't know how to attract active businesses that contribute, I believe they are part of the problem. A small town mindset does not bode well when expenses rise and revenues don't keep pace. However, many in town believe that simply reigning in expenses will do the trick. The Patch provides them with a forum to remember the "good old days". Igor and others like him will sell, make a hefty profit, and head to Texas or someplace else where things are "better". Isn't that in their retirement plan? Or is their plan based on something else? Or do they really have a plan?
Jim Eastwood January 23, 2013 at 12:58 PM
Brian Good Point !!! But I side with Igor !! What Ever Happened to "FRIENDLY FAIRFIELD" ??????
Jim Eastwood January 23, 2013 at 01:05 PM
And Further More Who are you and the 2-5 set to tell the people who lived their lives and gave their all to this Town to "Get Out Of Town" ??? A Plan ???? Ha !!! does this Town have a plan????? Or is it the pan of the 2 to 5 set to use this Town on their way up the Social Ladder??? Have a Great Day !!!!
Osborn Hiller January 23, 2013 at 02:31 PM
Towns change character all the time. Greenwich Village and Soho used to be starving artist havens. Guess what, they're not anymore. Fairfield used to have 8,000 school age students, now it's at 10,000. That's a big portion of your tax increase. Does "special interest groups" mean parents who demand good schools for their kids?
Perry January 23, 2013 at 02:35 PM
Kate...good letter! WE HAVE GOT TO STOP THE SPENDING especially for education. In the 60s we had No ice hockey, no swim team, no ski team, and no soccer team! We had larger classes. My 2nd grade class at the old Sherman School had 32 kids with one teacher! We did just fine, We also did not have a gym (we went outside to play) did not have an auditorium, no library ( we walked to the public one), and we ate at our desk for lunch ( a mother came in to help). I am not saying we have to go back to that, but we sure turned out ok. The teachers taught the 3Rs! It is time to adjust our spending to what we can afford,
Osborn Hiller January 23, 2013 at 02:49 PM
Perry, to hell with that. I'll be damned if I'm going to sacrifice my children's education so someone who already put their kids through school, and is sitting on a mountain of home equity, won't have to pay a little more in property taxes. I'm a property owner in Fairfield and I am willing to do what is necessary to keep this town a great place to live.
Igor January 23, 2013 at 03:27 PM
Sell for a hefty profit? What country are you living in? Have you seen the house market? Plans? what plans? Ask everyone who had money (including the town of Fairfield) that had money in with Mr. Madoff what their plans are. What I mean by special interest groups are the groups that only benefit a small number of people. For example let's have a dart throwing class for the 5 people who like darts. I'm just using that for an example, or rent a bus to send one senior citizen somewhere. We have to use the money where it benefits the greatest number. Osborn no one even mention cutting the school budget, what I am saying is cut waste. BTW have you listened to some of our educated children lately?
R. Ludlowe January 23, 2013 at 03:37 PM
Jim, what do you mean when you say the "2 to 5 set"?
R. Ludlowe January 23, 2013 at 03:38 PM
Is there a call-to-action in this letter? Or is it just a way to vent? I don't necessarily disagree with any of it, I am just unclear what the goal is. Should we mandate that all town employees live in town?
R. Ludlowe January 23, 2013 at 03:40 PM
Oh, and I think that "Ole Route 91" might disagree with the 80's extension of Route 8 being the first north to south highway in CT :-)
Dave North January 23, 2013 at 09:00 PM
Waaaa.... Prices are going up everywhere Kate... Hate to break it to you. My taxes in a "less desirable valley town" have gone up every year also. I'm not sure if you understand this, but there is no god given right to live anywhere you want just because you have lived there. If you can't afford Fairfield then move... Someone else will move in and be happy about what they pay in taxes and receive for services. Too many people buy in towns over their head because they feel entitled to live there. Sounds like that's what you did Kate...
Fairfield Taxpayer January 24, 2013 at 04:08 PM
help me out ; whats a 2 to 5 set?
Sandra January 24, 2013 at 04:13 PM
Family with 3 kids?
iamspartacus February 02, 2013 at 01:11 AM
Well put Mr. North. Anyone who has heard Kate and her minions from the "We the People"days knows that the motto is "I already used up the schools and services but I don't want to move out of my million dollar house so the rest of you need to suffer". And by the way when did anyone elect her to be our "taxpayer advocate"? I must have missed the vote.
Ajack February 07, 2013 at 03:10 PM
At a past PTA meeting at Fairfield Woods,one of the heads of the group at the meeting basically suggested that long time residents who live in the smaller houses in Fairfield, had no right to be here, and were the problem with this town's finances.It was implied from her statements that these smaller home dwellers should move out and , pardon the paraphrasing, let the rich and the wealthy buy their homes , tear them down and build their monster homes. This lady eluded to the idea also that higher taxes on these monstrosities would help to solve our money problems and our budget problems in this town. Unbelievable. Is this what this town has come to? Next they will be eating their young.
DM March 21, 2013 at 02:01 PM
Govt jobs being unionized with Dems in control. What could go wrong!?

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