In her comments at this week’s Town Council meeting, which she has also posted online, Mayor Brindle attempts to soften the blow of the unprecedented tax increase and surplus spending in the upcoming municipal budget by trumpeting her action plan for a “brighter future” for Westfield. This is classic politician-speak for “please ignore the past and present.” Following is a real-world translation of the Mayor’s comments:
“Let’s all look to the future, which I can describe however I want, and ignore the present facts that, more than two years into my tenure, more downtown stores are vacant than ever before, the Rialto has closed, and not a single new Town athletic field has been built or improved. Oh, and I have spent roughly half of the Town’s $14.5 million in savings when I took office to do it!”
“Pay no attention to my policies that have intentionally and substantially reduced the Town’s revenue from non-property tax sources, like parking, court fines, and construction permits, much of which is paid by non-residents. Because non-residents and specific users of municipal services are paying less, Westfielders are paying more! This year’s budget will increase the property tax burden on residents through a record high tax rate (exceeding the 2% cap imposed by state law, but who’s counting) and an 18% higher sewer fee. Brilliant, no? But, hey, your street was paved (likely by Elizabethtown Gas, not me).”
“I admit that the Town’s conservative approach to using taxpayer money in the past had resulted in significant surplus funds and a AAA credit rating, thereby allowing the Town to address severe, adverse climate and economic events, and to enjoy record low interest rates on borrowing, but that was then and this is now. I am spending more of your money to “invest” in Westfield (even though “investments” typically provide a return, which I can’t seem to find).
“Finally, I am putting the Town that you and I moved to for its tree-lined residential streets, walkable downtown, and bucolic neighborhoods on a path to substantial redevelopment. That is because although my policies intentionally impede the building of new single-family homes, I see no problem with constructing high-rise apartments and office buildings, and then giving those builders PILOTs so they can avoid funding our schools (another reason you moved here)!”
A “bold action plan” indeed.