DARIEN, Conn. With a chuckle, I read campaign criticism of Jayme Stevenson, Dave Campbell and Jerry Nielsen as driving the mill rate increases of Darien. As former chairman of the Board of Finance, I feel obligated to comment and help educate on the budgetary picture.
First and foremost, the selectmen never vote on the mill rate, and do not even propose one. The mill rate is adopted by the Board of Finance and approved by the Representative Town Meeting.
Second, the part of the budget under that is control of the selectmen is only 26 percent of the total Darien budget. Debt service is 8 percent, and the Board of Education represents 66 percent. The continued increases in school enrollment and special education expenditures have driven the largest part of mill rate increases over the past couple years.
Third, the existing selectmen have adopted tight budgets over the past two years, which have included headcount reductions and restructured operations.
If the Democratic candidates for selectmen wish to make material changes to mill rates, I would suggest that they run for the Board of Finance or the Board of Education. I, however, am very happy having Jayme, Dave, and Jerry as the fiscal watchdogs of the Selectmen operations.
Murry Stegelmann, former chairman of the Darien Board of Finance
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