NORWALK, Conn. – Two Norwalk Democrats were silent Tuesday night as they voted against the budget cap set by a majority of their peers on the Common Council, but they shared their opinions Thursday.
At-Large Council members Warren Peña and Anna Duleep, both Democrats, were among the five votes against the budget cap proposed by Councilman Bruce Kimmel (D-District D). John Igneri (D-District E), David Watts (D-District A) and Nick Kydes (R-District C) also voted no.
Kydes said he couldn’t vote for the cap because it includes a tax hike, but the Democrats did not speak in the lengthy meeting.
Asked by email what their motivations were, Pena and Duleep responded. Here are their statements:
I was not comfortable with the budgeting process. Also not comfortable with this current administration’s priorities.
We should be making the investment to fully fund our BOE.
In addition, (it’s) not an inclusive process where all stakeholders can sit down to chat how we can take a balanced approach on finding the money to fund education and be sensitive to taxpayers, fully knowing that our grand list is stagnant. Essentially, (there’s) no proactive leadership. This administration does not take into consideration any ideas or suggestions from the minority caucus. They have the votes, therefore we are irrelevant.
We can do things better and we can work with other partners.
When you have a $300 million corporation, there comes of a lot of other wealthy folks or entities that are willing to partner up with you.
I voted against the Republican caucus member proposed preliminary budget cap because the mayor’s operating budget is out of step with the values I want Norwalk to embody. Our city budget is a reflection of our values and priorities as a community.
Tuesday night, Mayor Moccia blamed our budget woes on Hartford and pointed his finger at Gov. (Dannel) Malloy’s proposed state budget. I wonder what Hartford lawmakers, who already view Norwalk as a wealthy Gold Coast city, would think of our apparent priorities? Two weeks ago, I was the sole vote against raising the mayor’s remuneration over 20 percent. The Republican-controlled Common Council put Mayor Moccia in an awkward position; how could Gov. Malloy possibly take Mayor Moccia’s criticism seriously mere days after the Common Council approved such a hefty pay raise?
This Tuesday, I was the sole vote against lending $150,000 to Oak Hills. The issue was never golf; the issue is whether and why we hold our public golf course to a more lax standard than our own Board of Education and the Head Start program run through Norwalk Economic Opportunity Now. If Mayor Moccia wants to play hardball with NEON (despite the dissolution of the old board, which included our Council President Doug Hempstead and immediate past Council President Carvin Hilliard), that is his choice. But what does it say about our priorities? Even people who voted to authorize the loan to Oak Hills expressed profound discomfort.
…. Finally, Councilman Kimmel failed to convince me that the City will indeed close that gap between the BOE’s request and the city’s ability to fund our schools before the Board of Estimate and Taxation sets the mill rate in May. He failed to adequately explain the merits of the extremely small increase he proposed to the cap. BET Chair Fred Wilms has never come particularly close to exceeding a generous budget cap; what does less than $100,000 of “wiggle room” truly accomplish?