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The Harder and More Difficult of Choices

The town of Enfield is being faced with an ever increasing crisis right now. Nobody wants to talk about it. Nobody wants to deal with it. Nobody even wants to acknowledge it.

In the late 1950’s prior to running for the office of the presidency, John F. Kennedy wrote a book titled Profiles of Courage.  Within the book he detailed a few case studies of politicians who despite overwhelming public opinion of any given issue that may have otherwise forced any other politician to vote or manage a policy area a certain way that way that favored public opinion; the politicians mentioned in the book did not do what other people thought were right, but they instead did what was needed to be done in order to make the entire community a better one for all.

The town of Enfield is being faced with an ever increasing crisis right now.  Nobody wants to talk about it. Nobody wants to deal with it. Nobody even wants to acknowledge it.  But like any looming and creeping darkness that’s growing in size; the crisis is present, and it’s not going to go away any time soon.

Due to the prolonging economic recession that we are all faced with as a community; people have less money. Everybody is affected by this recession, and nobody is immune from this current economic situation. And although the only positive outcome of this could be that people has had to learn how to do more things with less money; it also means that our government has also had to learn how to do more things with less money.

But that doesn’t make for an excuse to start giving up on our town and the future of it. The Mayor and Republican Party in the town council proudly proclaim each and every year since they’ve gained a majority in the council that they are proud that they had not had to raise taxes. However, the costs of doing everything from putting gas in the town fleet of vehicles to the cost of electricity and heat in the numerous town buildings are sky rocking.  We as a community have two choices: to continue down this path of not paying any more then we already do for our city
services or for us all to give a little bit more so that the community as a
whole with benefit.

All 46,000 of us who call the town of Enfield our home are on that same boat: republicans and democrats; Thompsonville residents and Hazardville residents; young and old; business owners and housekeepers; we are all in that same boat, and that boat has a leak in it. If this boat continues to leak, we will sink. So we have three options to save our community on this boat. Do we throw some people overboard, in order to save the other people? Do we just do nothing and allow for the boat to sink? Or do we as community choose the best option in my opinion; have each person in our community contribute a little more so that everyone is saved in the end?

We can do what other towns is doing, and we can easily cut the many services that affect our communities most variable residents: cut public housing for the elderly, cut any support for the food self and the food pantry, and while you’re at it; cut the public library hours of operations. However if we were to go down that path, then we all as a community suffer; especially our friends and our family and our neighbors who need the extra help and need the extra support. And in the long run, the entire community is hurt anyways.

We can also do nothing. 

That is what the town of Enfield is already doing, and I do not blame
this on any one political party or any one political ideology; I mostly blame
human nature. It is easy to do nothing and ignore the facts as human beings. It
makes our lives easier and it creates less stress, less worry, and less panic
in our lives.

However, after we come home from our weekly shopping trips to the store and to the mall, and after we arrive home from a long and exhausting day on the job or in class; the facts that we tried so disparately hard to ignore still remain the facts: that our schools are under performing, that our streets are no longer safe at night, that our parks are no longer clean and maintained, that our roads are no longer smooth and drivable, and that our public libraries have fewer and fewer new books for our fellow residents to read.

The many great services that we as a community depend on like police and fire services, park and recreation services, library services,  road improvement services, and our public education system are all things are costs a great deal of money. And even services like door to door trash and recycling services; which many towns in our state lack, costs us even more money.  Paychecks of town workers need to be fulfilled; school books need to be purchased for our children and our grass in our public parks needs watering for our enjoyment.

And so at the end of the day, we need our leaders in the great town of Enfield to step up to the plate; republicans and democrats and independences alike; and take the actions that our town and other towns around our state needs to take in order to ensure that our services that we all enjoy are maintained, and that our future and the future of our children is a brighter one then what we are currently facing in our lives.

And hopefully along the way of doing all this we can also ensure that John F. Kennedy’s vision will still hold true: that the people who we elect to lead us can still be courageous and make the harder and more difficult of choices.

This post is contributed by a community member. The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Patch Media Corporation. Everyone is welcome to submit a post to Patch. If you'd like to post a blog, go here to get started.

Spiff May 21, 2012 at 02:53 PM
Bobby, you acknowledge that “people have less money” as a result of the recession. So, where would people get the extra money to pay higher taxes? Raising taxes would, potentially, cause more foreclosures and fewer people to be able to pay their bills. We are already the highest taxed state in the country (please refer to Bloomberg data in attached article below), and you can thank people like Dan Malloy, our Democratic Governor, and David Kiner, the 59th Legislative District representative from Enfield. http://finance.yahoo.com/news/pf_article_113611.html People in CT pay more in taxes, on average, than people in every other state! CT Democrats passed the highest tax increase in state history less than a year ago. The worst thing for political leaders to do during a recession is to raise taxes. Herbert Hoover found this out the hard way when he raised taxes during his presidency and turned a recession into a depression. During lean economic times, everyone has to suck it up, as you pointed out, including governments! Enfield is not Greenwich, Simsbury, or Litchfield County. We are of more moderate means than people who live in those areas. Yet, we still pay the same high income tax, sales tax, etc. I applaud Enfield Town Council for responsibly managing our town’s finances and not raising taxes in recent years. I applaud them for being courageous and making the harder and more difficult choices, instead of taking the easy way out and simply raising taxes.
Pat Droney May 21, 2012 at 05:21 PM
Bobby, not sure where you live but overall, the streets in Enfield are extremely safe. This isn't Hartford, New Haven or Bridgeport. The Enfield PD does an outstanding job. Are there a few pockets of crime here and there? Yes, but you make it sound like crime is running rampant here, which it is not. The town has committed a lot of money to improve roads around town (been down Raffia Rd or Town Farm Rd lately?). Parks not cleaned and maintained? I don't see that. Watering grass at the parks? I've lived in town for most of my 54 years and I've never seen grass watered at parks. Have you looked at our fire departments? They have the best equipment going and most of them are in new facilities. They are doing fine. So....I'm not really sure what you're talking about. Could we do better? Maybe....but with the bite the State of CT recently took out of our paychecks, with increasing fuel costs through exorbitant gas taxes, and the overall excessive cost of living in CT, I'm not sure where you think people have money for more taxes to the Town of Enfield. Certainly the council will have to realize in the next year or so that taxes will indeed likely have to be raised some. However given the current economic situation in many of our cities and towns, including ones that raise taxes year after year and have nothing to show for it, I think Enfield does a pretty good job overall.
Maureen Brennan May 21, 2012 at 11:25 PM
Pat, I don't feel safe in our own neighborhood.
Spoof May 21, 2012 at 11:49 PM
With a name like "Spiff", how can that not be true. Oh. Right. It isn't true when you are factoring in all that those you applaud are proud of accomplishing. "Courageous" is a term that does not belong in politics; reserve it for those we will pay tribute to this Memorial Day weekend. There is no courage in cutting services and programs from those least able to protest.
JF May 22, 2012 at 12:10 AM
I thought the point of the article was about, 'Having the courage to do that which is not popular'? Or doing what is necessary to address the upward trend in costs associated with maintaining the town in the manner we are accustomed? I see his point quite clearly and it's an excellent message, 'invest in this town, or continue down the path of any other American city in decline.' If we as stake holders invest a little extra in taxes, rather than making up the difference by continuing to cut areas that benefit the majority, our town will continue to be a center of prosperity. You mention other towns that have money and as a result, are attracting residents with higher incomes, which in turn, support those town's local economies. It's cyclical, fix up the town, maintain what you have, draw higher income families, increase the tax base....fix up the town, maintain what you have..etc. The opposite is what we are seeing now: The flight of young well earning professionals and their families to neighboring towns who are investing in their schools. We are seeing an increase in abandoned houses...etc. Cutting, doesn't work, investing does. Great article! Let's support Enfield and invest in the future. We could be talking about $10 to $20 extra a month, but the payoff will be a lighter tax burden, when money is even more scarce.
Susan May 22, 2012 at 12:41 AM
Great article too bad most will not understand unless they can think of others
Patti Denison Kertanis May 22, 2012 at 12:10 PM
I can agree with many of your points BUT many on our Town Council have been running their campaigns based on "no tax increase" for years. Where were they when the economy was booming? They were still basing their campaigns on "no tax increase" then because it is what people want to hear. So just when is the right time when you base your campaign on this premise? My husband and I are both registered as unaffiliated yet tend to be conservative voters. We don't vote by the party, but by the issue. It just seems like the logical and fair way to go for us. But we worry about our town. It is easy to sit on the outside and think you know what is happening in our schools. Please don't respond that "we did fine without when we were in school" because you can't compare apples and oranges. It is a different world today. Take the time and become a mentor, spend some time in our schools on a daily basis and see how different things are. We spend far too much time discussing what we feel is the best thing to do for our kids-do we bail out of Enfield now? Do we stay and opt for private school? What I do know is that we spend far too much time on these conversations that should not even be an issue. No, Enfield is not Greenwich, Simsbury, or Litchfield County, BUT we also do not want to become a town with inner city problems, a town that no one wants to move to, a school system that doesn't allow our kids opportunity, a town that no longer has pride!
Sam May 22, 2012 at 04:01 PM
Bobby, The Enfield Town council is doing a fine job with "not" raising our property taxes. They forced the town and school system cut "waste" that has been going on for many years. We still have very good services in Enfield and a good school system. I do not see where they have been effected to where we are on the verge of the ship sinking as you state. The biggest cost to the Enfield taxpayer is the public education system in town, The democrats gave away very lucrative contract increases for years, but there is something you can do to help offset that if you would like, Bobby if you and you friends feel that you do not pay enough already in taxes and you feel the need to give the town "more money" then by all means check the little known box on you property tax bill and give a couple thousand more this year. Anyone can give extra if they want and it will go directly to education. Also maybe some of our town residents that have children in our school systen that dont own property or dont pay property taxes could start paying towards some of the costs of education also instead of letting the rest of us fund it for them. I myself do not feel I can afford any increase at this time, and with the size of my property tax bill each year, I definately feel i am contributing my fair share and should not be required to pay more just because you feel that the town isnt up to your standards.
Maureen Brennan May 23, 2012 at 01:03 AM
Patti and JF, I agree completely. The message of this article hits the nail on the head.
dave giguere May 23, 2012 at 11:17 AM
maureen Brennan, the same woman who suggested closing down the senior center to save teachers jobs? The town of Enfield is already overtaxed and crime ridden. The taxes go mostly to teachers ( 70% of the budget) the town is not effective on fighting crime. police are more concerned with DUI patrols than getting the gangs out of town because the town makes money on the fines from dui's. Maybe if the police chief put as much effort into the town as he does on being president of the Mt. Carmel we could actually get the gangs to leave town. Chief Marcotte went after the gangs and we had barely any problems with them. Pat Droney says look at town farm rd as an example of the town building to make enfield better. He's right. $8 million dollars for road widening and a wide sidewalk which won't get used much. That grant money they are uing mut be paid be paid back at some point. spending money the wrong way is counter productive and leads a town to failure. what a shame it used to be a great town.. those days are gone. long gone
Tom Sirard May 24, 2012 at 03:02 PM
I agree with much that has been said by many of the well meaning folks on both sides of the political aisle. The problems we face must be faced down together as a team... All of us. Many of the fiscal problems we face now are, to use a popular phrase, "inherited". Repeated cuts in services and education are the byproduct of "generous" contracts and ever increasing "public needs" created by a political class intent on creating dependents and purchasing votes at the public expense. THAT is the cycle that needs to be broken. The mass exodus of educated youth from our state is the byproduct of a State government no longer based in reality. The re distributive "tax, spend, and borrow" mentality they embrace has chased employers from the state. Our educated youth leaving because there are simply NO JOBS for them here other than Government jobs that can not be paid for without the private sector jobs to fund them. That's the reality. The wealthy in Fairfield County (the ones whose wealth is based in the private sector) are leaving the state, too. So are many of our public sector retirees. They are moving to states that are more affordable. The tax base is shrinking because the mentality of the state government has created an unsustainable mess. Its the mess they have created that will hurt people not the solutions to the mess. That's the hardest thing for many to accept.
Spiff May 24, 2012 at 03:24 PM
Well said, Tom. I personally know numerous people who either left the state or decided to leave the state after Dan Malloy signed last summer's record tax increase. These are the ones who are able to pay the taxes. These are the ones who are supporting our government and those who rely on government for their livelihood. So, apparently it's a vicious cycle, government increases taxes to raise revenue, and the people and businesses with the ability to pay the taxes decide to leave, and then the government inceases taxes again, and the cycle continues, until the only people left in the state are government employees and those living off the system. Current Democratic policies in CT are unsustainable. Unless they are changed, we will end up over time like the city of Detroit, an abandoned wasteland that was once a great city!

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