POLL: Change to the Fairfield Budget Process?

Patch users and residents consider a push to modify the Town Charter.

As Election Day approaches, questions regarding town leadership are circulating – something that’s found a home on Fairfield Patch.

on a story may translate into something the rest of the town might stand behind.

One reader, who goes by the alias “,” put forth the idea Thursday of modifying the town charter to require the town hold a required, annual budget referendum – one that breaks down the budget line item by line item.

The budget for Fiscal Year 2012 (see the quick reference table below) represents a 4.58 percent increase over Fiscal Year 2011's $251,4541,113; and a mill rate increase from 19.27 mills to 22.47 – an increase of 3.2 mills.

What Creeky and a few other readers want is a budget process that involves resident participation and influence. Currently, this can happen should enough townspeople petition to hold a referendum within a specific time period following the vote to adopt the budget, but he would like to see the charter require the annual referendums.

His argument, as told to Patch:

"Fairfield is grappling with large – and often unplanned – expenditures. Cases in point:

  • and maintenance
  • A new
  • Pension shortfalls

All while many homeowners struggle with reduced income, significant losses in retirement savings, and steep losses in home value."

Connecticut towns like and are required to hold annual referendums as part of their town charters.

Fairfield held a referendum earlier this year following a petition to restore funds to the Board of Education's budget, but it .

Reader "" suggested that, rather than have a referendum ballot with a simple yes/no answer to the statement "In favor of Town Government/Board of Education Budget," each department should list its specific budget, and those allocations could be voted on, with room for suggested increases or decreases on the referendum ballot.

These ideas are in their earliest forms – Creeky termed this a "grassroots function."

Here’s a quick reference guide for the approved budget for Fiscal Year (FY) 2012: 

Department Amount Allocated Percentage of FY 2012 Budget General Government: Administration & General $9,876,952 3.75 General Government: Miscellaneous $3,213,424 1.22 Finance $4,445,083 1.69 Public Safety $32,588,560 12.38 Public Works $16,498,953 6.27 Health and Welfare $7,379,494 2.81 Culture and Recreation $7,594,642 2.89 Board of Education $145,680,350 55.4 Retiree Benefits $10,926,306 4.15 Debt Service $24,870,179 9.45 Total Budget $263,073,943


Jerry McTigue October 20, 2011 at 07:05 PM
Thanks for your comments, Bruce. Just to be clear, I never suggested that the citizens of Fairfield "lack intelligence or the ability to comprehend the budget." In fact, I never used any form of the word "intelligence" at all. The word I used is "informed" which is quite different in meaning. What I stated was, the people of Fairfield are little-informed, or in some cases nil-informed, when it comes to the town's budget. Like you, I agree that most people's lives are too busy to get up to speed with the myriad details of the budgetary process and thus rely on their elected officials to do so.
Creeky October 20, 2011 at 07:16 PM
Bruce, Have you considered why the number of students increases without a significant increase in population? It's because the number of households is increasing. That is not because the number of building lots is increasing. It is because of the increase in the number of condominiums, of various definition, is increasing. If you review the zoning regulations, and I'm not certain I've got this just right, you cannot build a duplex in Fairfield, and condominiums can only be built in a particular zone. But, if you have over four units, and make some low-income housing, and hire the right attorney, Wa La, approval. But, less than four units, and again, the right attorney before the ZBA, suddenly the duplex you couldn't build is a condo you can. Bad luck for your neighbors, who see their value reduced by a change in bias from single family homes to multi-family. Bad luck for the homeowners who pay more for their homes and pay more in taxes to support a growing school system. Good luck for a government that collects fees for building, zoning, wetlands, et cetera, in excess of cost of service (government for profit and a monopoly). Bad luck for taxpayers when the market builds less homes, the spending platform already exists, and the revenue shortfall must be made up in increased taxes.
Creeky October 20, 2011 at 07:31 PM
Bruce et al, Apologies, I read my graph to quickly. 18 times, or 1800% is the lot size variation, the variation in value per acre is closer to 13 times, or 1300%. Very, very sorry. I didn't intend an exaggeration. And really, with these numbers, who needs it?
Eleanor Bruce October 20, 2011 at 07:45 PM
I would like to tell to the town Of Fairfield ...TAKE CARE OF OUR TAX MONEY..If you dont know ..let me tell you.. I buy less groceries, I am behind on my bills..I work on call..the job that I have calls me when somebody calls in sick..SO I WAS FORCED TO CUT MY SPENDINGS AND YOU SHOULD DO TOO...
Bruce Monte, Jr. October 20, 2011 at 09:31 PM
Jerry, my apologies if my comments could have been interpreted to suggest that you were implying that Fairfielders were lacking in intelligence or comprehension. I certainly didn't intend anything of the sort -- your comments were very clear, and not at all disparaging. I was speaking only for myself, making sure that readers didn't think that I thought ill of my fellow Fairfielders.


More »
Got a question? Something on your mind? Talk to your community, directly.
Note Article
Just a short thought to get the word out quickly about anything in your neighborhood.
Share something with your neighbors.What's on your mind?What's on your mind?Make an announcement, speak your mind, or sell somethingPost something
See more »