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Best use of tax dollars?
In response to the letter to the editor in the February issue titled, Best use of Tax Dollars.
Having a very strong opinion that the tax dollars of this town paid by taxpayers like you and me are not being used in a fiscally responsible manner, it does appear as if the financial decisions made by the DPW and our town are not made in the best interest of the taxpayers as much as they have been in the best interest of the DPW. Spending taxpayers dollars to replace an assigned 2015 F-350 truck, customized for his liking, with a 2016 Ford Explorer XLT several months after cutting $11,000 from the salt budget and eliminating one person for seasonal maintenance in our parks, along with other cuts does not seem to be fiscally responsible.
When I questioned the Board of Finance regarding this purchase, the reply I received was “with the need to respond locally at job sites and for business travel it is deemed practical to have a less (lower) fuel consumption vehicle than a truck,” further stating “a vehicle needed to be added to the fleet.” In my opinion, a Ford Edge would do the same job as the Ford Explorer while saving taxpayers additional money in cost and fuel.
When I questioned why this vehicle was not listed in the 2015/16 fiscal year budget and where the money came from to purchase it, the reply I received was “Expenditure may carry over for a couple months into the subsequent fiscal year, all purchases are budgeted within the approved budget.” Yet, this vehicle is not listed. If money was left over from last year’s budget, you and I would think it would have gone towards reducing this year’s budget instead of the “use it or lose it” approach our town seems to have. Lack of transparency and not the best use of taxpayers’ dollars.
More on Dr. O’Leary
Last month I wrote an article about the retirement of Dr. Liam O’Leary, one of Granby’s prominent veterinarians. There is another personal incident that I would like to relate to indicate how well known is his expertise in horse lameness.
In the early ‘90s, I developed an unusual lung problem that was very difficult to diagnose. Several doctors remained unsure and wanted to do exploratory surgery. Not liking the sound of that, I tried one more pulmonologist here in the Hartford area before I gave in to my husband, who wanted to take me to Boston or New York.
At one point in our discussion, this last doctor in Hartford proposed a possible diagnosis. My husband quipped, “Well, that’s what her veterinarian thinks,” expecting a wise crack to follow from the doctor. Instead, without a moment’s hesitation, and in all seriousness, the doctor asked, “Who is your vet?” and I answered “Liam O’Leary,” to which he replied, “Good man! My wife won’t let anyone else touch her horses’ legs.” His wife was a serious hunter/jumper competitor and the couple lived in Ansonia.
Should the transfer station be privatized?
We were able to obtain, through a Freedom of Information request, a copy of the Public Works Budget Worksheets for 2015-16. These worksheets detail, on a line item basis, the actual and proposed costs for operating DPW by subdivision.
One section that particularly stood out was the operating cost of the Transfer Station. The worksheet listed the activity at $92,000 plus another $18,500 for payroll. These activities include permits, clothing for the workers, various recycling charges and more than $57,000 in dumpster hauling fees paid to Paine’s. Further investigation found the hauling to be closer to $70,000.
For comparison, the Town of Simsbury Transfer Station is managed totally by Paine’s at no cost to the town. Paine’s sets the fees and operating hours. If we round off the cost of the Granby Transfer Station to $125,000, why not “recycle” those dollars back to the taxpayers and contract out the management?
Bill and Susan Regan
A piece of history vanishing
I have read with concern and sadness Bob Endter’s letter to the Drummer last month about the present dilapidated, plundered and decaying condition of his former residence on Fox Road in West Granby. The Endter family was exceedingly careful about the way they treated this historic dwelling house over their long tenure there. I was worried when the state took over the property in 2008 about what would happen to this historic structure, and my worst fears seem to have come to pass.
An architectural history firm stated in 2010 that the house was built in the 1800–1830 range. I, however, had long since unearthed evidence that the dwelling may well have dated back to 1783, and thus is one of the oldest, or perhaps the oldest extant dwelling house in West Granby. Whatever the case, as the state’s report itself recognized, domestic structures of that sort (one-and-one-half stories, as opposed to the classic two-and-one-half story “colonial” style) are rare because their owners over the decades were generally not wealthy enough to provide regular upkeep of the very features that make them valuable historically (fireplaces, paneling, wide-board floors, plaster, etc.). They are rare, yes, but very important historically because, as scholars have come to understand, that is the type of dwelling in which most late-eighteenth- and early-nineteenth-century New England families resided.
It is necessary for a society to understand its history, and to do that we need to preserve pieces of the past, such as the house on Fox Road, to help us envision how the people of the past lived. The wave of farming families of limited means who flooded into West Granby’s hills after the American Revolution were a truculently independent people whose heritage included fundamental elements of American culture, including the family farm and an egalitarian version of democracy. It is too bad that the DEEP has failed to preserve this house, a symbol of that heritage—although there is still plenty of it left that is worth saving. Perhaps our local officials could step up and speak on behalf of a community that values its history and work with DEEP to save what’s left.
[Note: Williams is the author of the most recent history of Granby, A Tempest in a Small Town.]