NORWALK, Conn. — Republican hopeful Vinny Scicchitano, whose campaign to unseat Mayor Harry Rilling kicks off this evening, has given this year’s budget process a “D-minus.”
Asked by NancyOnNorwalk what he thought of the 2023-24 budget, the first-time candidate called it “complicated.”
Scicchitano also said, “The promise of explosive growth has not materialized into tax revenue that supports the increase in City services necessary to sustain our needs and everything going on.”
One problem, he said, is that the approximately “4 percent increase on everything doesn’t even cover the 7-8-9 percent inflation rate we are at right now.” He also cited the $167 million reduction in the Grand List.
“It hasn’t been a good year for budget talks and making the residents understand what’s going on,” Scicchitano added.
In an email, Rilling said, “Mr. Scicchitano and I will have the opportunity to debate policy issues at the appropriate time. In the meantime, I encourage Mr. Scicchitano to research and learn more about the municipal budget process and other important issues to avoid inaccuracies in the future.”
Rilling and Scicchitano are friends, they both said recently.
- “Our quality of life has been diminished due to the overcrowding and overbuilding and then ultimately, we’re going to end up paying the paying the price for it.”
- “People are angry, taxpaying residents are unhappy, to say the least. …If we simply listen and take into consideration the taxpaying property owners and the families that live here, and the small businesses, the budget process would have been more satisfactory to all. I just think that when you have public events, public comments, and people are angry, something is wrong. And I think it should be fixed.”
- “We have problems on the revenue side, we have problems on the spending side, and it’s all going to come to a head,” with Norwalk residents paying the bill.
So what would he do if he were elected Mayor?
“I really have to put the tax structure for all these buildings that have been built under a microscope and find out why we’re not awash in money,” Scicchitano said, calling the Grand List something to “revisit.”
- “There’s a lot of things on the expenditure side that I think also needs to be looked at … I think you have to look at everything line by line and see where cuts need to be made.” Needs should trump wants. “It’s a balancing act that seems to be completely askew at this point.”
- “Next year, we’re going to have to embark upon spending 50 to $100 million to redo our sewage treatment system … The sewage treatment system was old and rundown for a long time and needed to be updated for certain, but I think building all these apartment houses and all these apartment buildings has definitely exacerbated the situation, for certain.”
- “We have new developments that are being proposed right now. But nothing about the tax structure of it has changed at all, we’re just going to keep making the same mistake over and over again and making a bad situation worse.”
Scicchitano, an East Norwalk business owner who has never served in City government, said he was being honest and straightforward and, “I think I’m answering questions that come at me more from a perspective of a city of Norwalk resident than a Mayoral candidate.”
He’s trying to explain how the people he knows feel in hopes of making “a connect between that and City Hall” “so that perhaps we can all build a community that everyone is happy about and everybody’s happy about the the growth and in a way that it can be absorbed by everyone.”
In a follow-up phone call, NoN asked Scicchitano why he thought the sewage treatment system needs $50-100 million in repairs.
“I heard that from one Council member but that has not been verified yet,” Scicchitano said.
Council member Bryan Meek (R-District D) confirmed he said it. Norwalk Director of Communications Michelle Woods Matthews said, “the projected wastewater treatment facility enhancements are unrelated to any recent apartment construction in Norwalk. The notion that the two subjects are connected is false and misleading.” See separate story.
“I would like to look at the tax structure for new developments,” Scicchitano said.
The Republican candidate is holding a campaign kickoff party from 6 to 8 p.m. Friday at Ponza Italian Kitchen, located at 690 Connecticut Ave.