Enfield Patch concludes its weeklong series of questions to candidates for town office with responses from District 3 Town Councilman Scott Kaupin, who is running unopposed.
Question 1: What ideas do you have to stimulate business growth in Enfield, particularly in the re-use of the town's numerous empty commercial properties?
Scott Kaupin: Depending on the type, size and intended use of the commercial property, the Town of Enfield has numerous means at our disposal to help attract and retain businesses here in Enfield. For all businesses, both large and small, the streamlined planning and building permit process at Town Hall has been a big benefit. This type of collaborative work needs to continue between all departments of Development Services. When a business decides to call Enfield home, our staff and processes need to maintain their high degree of customer service. The success at both Eppendorf and LEGO Systems shows that our commitment, dedication and hard work pays off to the benefit of the business and the town in general. For large scale projects, such as the redevelopment of the Bernie's property, the Eppendorf expansion and the development possibilities that exist at the World LLC property off of King Street and Mullen Road, a coordinated effort between the Town of Enfield, the State of Connecticut, the property owners, and the business that wishes to call Enfield home is a must. The Town of Enfield can lend assistance through the various approval processes and tie any type of property tax abatement to new job creation. The State of Connecticut, through the Department of Economic and Community Development, can offer financial assistance through various tax incentives. Enfield is a great place to do business, and we are fortunate to have such a diverse tax base. Finally, a fair and competitive tax rate helps to retain businesses in town and provide the needed jobs, and the goods and services we need for our own family, business and groups that we are affiliated with.
Question 2: The town's mill rate has remained at 23.88 for four years. Do you feel the rate can continue at this level, and if so, at what expense in terms of community services?
Kaupin: At some point in time, the mill rate of 23.88 will change. More than likely, the change will come next fiscal year due to the property revaluation that we are currently undergoing. Due to declining property values, both residential and commercial/industrial, the mill rate will more than likely increase to compensate for the overall decrease in the grand list of taxable property. What I believe the real question to be is ... do I feel that the amount of taxes charged can continue at this level. This question has many variables that are not yet known such as ... 1. What will be the new grand list? 2. Will the State of Connecticut continue to decrease aid to the municipalities and what is that impact? 3. What will be the impact of other revenue sources such as interest on investments (How is your 401K performing?), building permit fees, grant revenue that supports existing programs, etc.? 4. What further efficiencies can be found in both the town and school budgets to drive down the cost of government while still providing a high degree of service to the residents and students? These questions show that there are many unknown variables at this time. What I do feel confident in stating is that the Town Council, the Board of Education, and the administrations of both have worked very hard to achieve efficiencies across the organizations. The decisions have been tough but they have been necessary. This type of process will continue under Republican majorities here in Enfield. In the end, we will deliver responsible budgets that continue to move Enfield forward in a responsible manner.
Question 3: What do you see is the biggest challenge facing District 3 residents, and if elected, what is your plan to deal with it?
Kaupin: The biggest challenge facing all residents, including those that reside in District 3, continues to be the poor economy and its effects on the services, programs and projects supported in both the town and school system budgets. These last four years have been tough and the decisions have been hard to make. It has taken a great deal of commitment throughout the town organization to continue to deliver the needed services that our residents rely upon. We have made structural changes in the way government operates in Enfield to be able to continue to move our town forward during these difficult economic times. As a Town Council and a town administration, we must continue to look for efficiencies in our operations, lobby for our fair share of federal and state aid, encourage the right type of development that grows our tax base, seek out public - private partnerships that benefit all involved, and find new ways to bring new revenue streams into town that reduce the burden of the property tax. All this must be done while we continue to deliver the needed services of education, public safety, public works, library, social services, recreation, development services and all of the support services that run our town day to day. It's a tough balancing act, but one that can be done as we have proven over these past four years. Our due diligence with fiscal matters must continue to be a priority of the new Town Council, so that we can continue to meet the challenges posed by the effects of the most recent recession.
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