Initially, this was to be solely commentary on Granby’s overall budget for 2023/24, which only passed by 107 votes and I’ve seen a few signs in town that said “say no to the budget.” My view is it was not a popular result despite all the “reevaluation” adjustments, rigamarole computing impacting the mill rate.
More depressing is the fact that out of about 5000+ registered voters in our town, only about 1200 turned out to cast their position on fiscal planning. If I remember accurately, that has been about the breakdown for the past few years. I am happy to have BOF correct me if I’m wrong. Do people just not care, think that their vote won’t make a difference, don’t spend any time attending public meetings/workshops etc. or just find it too confusing? We should take a poll as to why they don’t vote.
I reiterate what I have said many times—we rely too heavily on residential property tax revenue (93 percent) and we do not put enough effort into attracting more commercial enterprises.
Have you noticed how many empty business sites we have in town? Who is working on attracting new tenants? We are so protective of our open space that we don’t want any drive-throughs? This is antiquated because I believe many soccer moms would like a drive through such as Wendy’s, Panera, KFC or Chipotle after the games.
And why don’t we just spend the money to remove Kearns School and sell the land or make it into a Center of Excellence for Special Ed as I have recommended previously. We need to do an RFP [Request for Proposal] for the East Street Farm. Given we paid over a million dollars for it plus bonding money that leaves us with long-term debt, we should be moving it off the books to help lower the mill rate.
As we all know, the education budget is the biggest piece of the pie so this is where I now focus on those concerns. It appears that Special Education dominates the increases/fluctuations in our commitment. The level to which we must provide for all students is driven by the Connecticut State Statutes. Thus, I refer back to my early comment on developing a Special Ed Center of Excellence for which I provided a full proposal to former Town Manager, John Ward, who was quite in favor of it. It would lower our costs and bring in additional revenue from other towns.
My husband and I watched the April 5, 2023 BOE meeting where two GMHS seniors, Kylie Coxon and Grace Darling, expressed their concerns with bullying at the high school. Apparently, they, and or their siblings, had suffered issues with harassment and brought it up with the school administration but were given no support or response to their submission.
We noted that the BOE has core values of which one of them is to provide a “safe environment”. Where or who dropped the ball on this?