NORWALK, Conn. – Harry Rilling is not a fan of outsourcing city services, nor is he a proponent of the Oak Hills Park Authority’s plan to build a driving range at the golf course.
NancyOnNorwalk asked each of the candidates a series of questions on issues facing the city. Answers from candidates Matt Miklave and Vinny Mangiacopra have appeared in a series of three stories and may be found elsewhere on this site under City Beat. Candidate Andy Garfunkel did not respond.
This is the second in a series of three stories covering Rilling’s answers to the six questions. Click here to see the first story (the complete answers from Mangiacopra and Miklave are attached at the bottom of that story).
Oak Hills: There are two proposals for a practice range. One involves putting it in the woods and cutting down trees, one involves making use of a different space. There is a fear that, based on one company’s past practice, the OHPA/city would front the money to build the range and hope to regain it and more through usage fees. The process, like the school superintendent search and the police chief “search;” is being kept secret. Should the OHPA be more transparent about the process? For that matter, should all of these searches and decisions be more transparent?
Rilling expressed concern about both the financial feasibility and the environmental implications of the proposed driving range.
“The issue of a driving range has been talked about for the past 15 to 20 years. To date, no one has submitted a plan that appears financially successful and environmentally friendly. Until someone does, I would not support a driving range at Oak Hills.
“I am also opposed to the proposed site behind the restaurant,” he said. “I have walked the site and it is not feasible.”
And, Rilling said, fronting the money to build the range would not be a wise idea.
I could never support a proposal that would require the City of Norwalk to front the money and increase user fees in order to get a return on their investment more quickly.”
It was reported when the city signed on for 10 years with City Carting that there was a clause that allows the city to terminate “for convenience.” Some or all of you (the Dem candidates) have been critical of the contract.Would you be inclined to terminate the City Carting contract? If so, would you offset the reported savings by making cuts elsewhere? It has been reported the outsourcing save taxpayers $110 each off their tax bills.
“I have been an outspoken opponent of privatizing services in the city,” Rilling said. “While there may be short-term savings, in the long term you end up selling your soul. City workers become part of the larger community and take pride in their work. Many not only work in Norwalk, they live here. While no workers were laid off, they were placed in lower-paying positions, which is inherently unfair.”
Fairness is not Rilling’s only issue with privatization. He said he is concerned about the city losing control of its essential services.
“Privatizing services removes from the city the ability to properly vet employees who will be providing those services,” he said. “We also have no guarantee the employees are being properly evaluated to ensure that they are performing up to standard.”
As for whether he would terminate the 10-year contract with City Carting, Rilling said he needs to study the deal before answering.
“Having not yet seen the copy of the 10-year contract, I cannot determine if (the reported savings) is true. … Once I am able to examine that contract I will be in a better position to make a decision as to how to proceed.”
Tuesday: Rilling weighs in on NEON and transparency in government.