To the editor:
I just received an email from Fairfield Taxpayer, and took some time reading their "strategic plan" for the town of Fairfield. I found what I read to be repugnant. Clearly, Fairfield and the State of Connecticut are facing economic crises. But while they claim to be "crowdsourcing" a solution, Fairfield Taxpayer in its literature lays out exactly how much a family with one, two, three or four children in the school system costs.
They also note that one of the biggest challenges in the Long-Term Residential Community business is attracting residents who are willing to pay for services they do not use, particularly the cost of education. At $185 million, education represents over 63 percent of Fairfield’s total spending, but only 30 percent of our households have children in our schools. I call foul on this. Good schools benefit an entire town, not only the families with children who attend. Strong schools support home values. They foster community. They alleviate social and criminal problems. They help make a town an attractive place to live...a place where families settle and spend money supporting the local economy. Who does Fairfield Taxpayer think is buying all these houses? Supporting contractors, painters, plumbers, furniture and fixture salespeople, spending money in our local businesses, banks and professional services companies? People with kids in our schools...that's who!
Drawing the delineation between people who "use" these services is needlessly divisive and erroneous. I'd also suggest that Fairfield Taxpayer take a drive out to the Rust Belt towns in rural Pennsylvania and New York, and take a look at what low investment in schools gets you. It's not your granite counters and AGA stove that make your home valuable, people.
Furthermore, I am personally repulsed by this group's assigning a "cost" or value that families with children derive from the town. (By the way, my personal "net benefit" would be $634,000 with three children.) Following this logic, does Fairfield Taxpayer think we should stop encouraging families with many children, or heaven forbid, special needs children, to move to town? Goodness..imagine what that would cost! These policies are nothing more than economic eugenics. I hope that saner minds prevail to find a solution for Fairfield that works for ALL members of the economic and age spectrum.
And I find it deliciously ironic that these missives are being issued concurrent with Pope Francis' visit. Perhaps the anonymous thinkers behind Fairfield Taxpayer could use a little Jesuit schooling right about now.
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