Letter to the editor: "Wilton needs leadership"

One of the conveniences enjoyed by Democrats in Hartford due to their comfortable majorities in both state legislative houses is that individual members can be spared the headache of casting votes that may otherwise be needed to pass a bill and thus anger or annoy constituents. This allows Democrats, on an individual basis and depending on the issue and their constituencies, to vote in opposition to a left wing proposal, provided that “yays” have a sufficient advantage over “nays.”

Who says politics is a cynical exercise?

For Wilton voters, the above dynamic seems to be crystalizing in full view with respect to three statewide property tax proposals made by Democrat leadership, among other issues. The first proposal (found in Senate Bill 171) would impose a state-level property tax on residential and commercial real property with an assessed value more than $300,000. The others (SB 172 and SB 808) would each impose an additional, state property tax on commercial property and homes in towns such as Wilton in which less than ten percent of the housing stock constitutes affordable housing under 8-30g (a $300,000 exemption appears in SB 172 but not SB 808).

Any state property tax - and especially the proposed, double-whammy that has Wilton and neighboring towns it its crosshairs - will put direct and significant further pressure on local property taxes, and therefore Wilton’s education budget and long-term home values, for starters. These proposals would take money from the pockets of Wilton homeowners and send the money to Hartford to spend elsewhere. There are other proposals of unique and serious concern to Wilton parents, homeowners, taxpayers and business owners, as well, including efforts to force Hartford mandates on local planning and zoning decisions that were previewed before the elections and are now under consideration.

We are now more than one month into the 2021 legislative session, and it is exceptionally disappointing that, with this flurry of aggressively left wing proposals coming from Hartford, both Rep. Stephanie Thomas and Sen. Will Haskell seem interested in being vocal only with respect to a curated subset of issues that cause them no political distress.

Do Thomas and Haskell support the two state property tax proposals? One or both? Who knows? Both are busy people and prolific users of social media. But neither there, nor in her Jan. 28th legislative update, does Thomas bother to address her party’s state property tax proposals (among many other issues such as school reopening, tolls, user fees for drivers, or SB 173, which proposes a new surtax on certain capital gains). Haskell has likewise failed meaningfully to do so.

In fact, constituents struggle to determine where Haskell and Thomas stand on several proposals that could profoundly affect Wilton and local autonomy over our town and schools, on a permanent basis.

The failure of leadership on display in Wilton is disappointing. Eventually casting a feeble, “nay” vote on bad proposals is not enough. Wilton deserves better.

William Lalor