Killingworth Watchdog Committee

This is a forum for Killingworth residents who want to make sure that our public officials do what is best for us.

This is a forum for Killingworth residents who want to make sure that our public officials do what is best for us.

This post is contributed by a community member. The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Patch Media Corporation. Everyone is welcome to submit a post to Patch. If you'd like to post a blog, go here to get started.

Killingworth Watchdog Group May 25, 2012 at 12:07 PM
Our names are Brian and Ann Bailey. We have attended some info meetings of the Killingworth Watchdog Group. We agreed with most items discussed. We plan to vote NO on the town budget because we think many items are not necessary in this fizzling economy. We would encourage the voters of Killingworth. to vote NO on Thursday, May 31st.
neighbor May 25, 2012 at 12:16 PM
Two things to note here: 1. The budget is down from last year. Why would you not vote for it? 2. By petitioning to vote by ballot rather than at a town meeting, the watchdog committee has cost the town over $3000 in "this fizzling economy."
Peggie Bushey May 25, 2012 at 01:13 PM
The budget may be down from last year -on paper-but there are still increases. By getting the vote to go to the ballot box, it is more inclusive of our residents...ones who do not come out after 8pm because they are elderly, have children, work nights....lots of reasons. I am a firm believer in making voting available and open all day like we do in presidential elections etc. Why should the budget, which has such a large impact on our lives, be any different? And for you who are so concerned about the cost.....what about the cost to the taxpayer who cannot get out and vote after 8pm on some random Tuesday night to try and keep their taxes down? That is the cost I am more concerned about.
Killingworth Watchdog Group May 25, 2012 at 01:14 PM
The budget is not exactly "down" from last year. It just looks that way because of several reasons: 1. They moved funds from the Town Budget to the Capital Budget. But we still have to pay for both budgets. 2. They removed funds from the Snow Removal line item hoping that we don't have much snow this year. If we do ..... 3. Last year's budget was bloated so this year's budget looks cheap by comparison. 4. According to their own figures, the town's expenses are higher that it's income. So taxes will go up. There is much that we can do to reduce the budget. If we can lower it by just $30,000, then the $3,000 ballot cost will have more than paid for itself. And by the way, this watchdog group was formed AFTER the petition was circulated and signed by hundreds of Killingworth residents. Please join us in making sure that our government is more responsive to our needs, and its actions are more transparent.
neighbor May 25, 2012 at 01:18 PM
If you're willing to spend more than $3000 to hold a vote--as you did the more than $3000 to hold a needless primary last fall--do not complain about the budget.
Killingworth Watchdog Group May 25, 2012 at 01:39 PM
Every single election costs money. This must be the first time in America's history that anyone has complained about the cost of democracy. The $3000 is to be paid by all tax payers. But if anyone does not want to pay his/her share, I will gladly pay your share for you. I will pay for anyone who cannot, or does not want to, afford it. And you can all still vote in an open and fair election at my expense. Just send me your name and address, and proof that you voted, and I will reimburse you.
concerned citizen May 25, 2012 at 03:25 PM
People here are so apathetic...they are sheep following and doing what they are told. I'm very blessed to still (hopefully) live in a democracy where i can voice how i feel, and have the God given right to vote my opinion. There are obviously some very wrong things going on in this town and EVERYONE who lives here has the same rights as everyone else. It's time things came out in the open. On another note, there's absolutely no reason for a new town hall bldg. If the back building is truly in bad state ( which is an unsubstantiated claim) there is no reason why it can't be repaired at $100,000 or whatever the cost is, rather than spend $2.5 million dollars for a new bldg. My son's private school has classrooms that are built the same way and they work just fine...do the math!!!
Ed Ricciuti May 25, 2012 at 04:11 PM
I think the Watchdogs are paranoid pups but, given our democracy, they have a right to bark. (Within the bounds of any noise ordinances.) They do stimulate debate even if their positions have little merit. The cantankerous canines aside, it does rankle me when citizens comment on issues without signing their real names. Walk your talk, people, whatever side you support. Ed Ricciuti
Robert A. Rioja May 25, 2012 at 05:10 PM
I will vote NO for the budget. We simply cannot afford it. And I appreciate being able to vote at a time that is convenient for me. Thanks to all those who made it possible. A referendum does not prevent a town meeting from taking place, it just makes it possible for all of us to have a say.
red May 25, 2012 at 07:55 PM
Not only is this a great thing being able to all vote on the town budget, it is a right and a honor so get out an vote. Also the budget proposed is a joke we have a 1.4 million dollar shortfall for those who dont understand the budget. So if you don't kill this budget and hold their feet to the fire we will all pay big time. The BOF and BOS need to fix the hidden items and fix the short fall.
Phil Stull May 25, 2012 at 09:34 PM
Here is the link to the Town Budget. http://www.townofkillingworth.com/boards/bof.html Red, show me where the $1.4 shortfall, please.
Mike Board May 28, 2012 at 10:23 PM
The Board of Selectmen requested a 2 1/2% pay increase for the Finance Director. The Finance Committee has taken it upon itself to raise that increase to 4%. In addition, seven officials and employees are receiving at least $12,000 for 'insurance buybacks'; this is an outrage! Does our Town Government currently find itself with such an overabundance of our hard earned tax dollars that, instead of returning the money to the taxpayers, they are trying to find ways to spend it all? SPEND, SPEND, SPEND, SO OUR TAXES CAN GO UP. UP, UP!!! PLEASE VOTE 'NO' THIS THURSDAY!
Killingworth Watchdog Group May 29, 2012 at 12:48 AM
The "Proposed Budget" in the link that Phil Stull provided shows Total Expenditures of $20,792,969 and Total Revenues of $19,365,474. That means that Expenditures is greater than Revenues by $1,427,495. Total Revenues is based on today's tax rate. Therefore, to make up the $1.4 million shortfall, taxes will have to increase by that amount.
Phil Stull May 29, 2012 at 12:51 PM
Most people today do not have the time or inclination to study and understand government budgets. At his stage in Killingworth’s budget creation process a large shortfall is presented and some attribute that to out of control spending, but to understand this shortfall one needs to dig deeper into the normal process of local budget creation, and the very unusual circumstances that presently exist in Killingworth. Killingworth has had the largest decrease in their Grand List (which is the total value of the real estate and personal property) in its history. “Killingworth's 2011 grand list fell a staggering 12.6 percent, a drop officials say is attributable to a town wide revaluation last year that saw real estate values plummet by a total of $105.8 million” from Patch 2/17/12. So at this stage of the budget process the Board of Finance must use this new greatly reduced Grand List, and the old Mill Rate to determine the Grand Levy (which is the total amount of tax revenue that would be raised given these amounts). This is the normal process but usually the Grand List has increased so we would have a surplus or a small deficit, but not this time because of the “staggering” drop in the Grand List.
Phil Stull May 29, 2012 at 12:51 PM
Spending has been reduced in the town budget and HK’s increase is the lowest in years, so this problem is not out of control spending, but the issue of using the new greatly reduced Grand List and the old Mill Rate to determine the Grand Levy at this point. The Board of Finance will do as it always does to determine the new Mill Rate after the budget is passed. There will not be a deficit and for most property owners the amount of real estate taxes that they will pay in this coming year will be less than last year, because of the controls on spending that they and the Board of Selectman have accomplished. Yes, are there some line item increases that some may take issue with, but the huge budget shortfall is not created by out of control spending. Could more cuts be made, sure but then we would have to have another town meeting and given Killingworth’s present civil war within its Republican Party, we would be back again with another $3,000 referendum, so I will vote Yes in this referendum, and wait for the next referendum on the $4,600,000 town hall addition to vote NO.
concerned citizen May 30, 2012 at 01:18 AM
I believe one of the reasons for Grand List decrease is that people are moving out because of high taxes, both town and school. Its becoming unaffordable to live here...that's why we have to keep taxes down and make it affordable and enticing. There's nothing enticing when you see taxes keep rising and salaries rising at a time when there's marked unemployment and poverty in this country EVERYWHERE!!!!! We all have to do our part to help in this economy. I don't see that happening in this town. I see greed and power, all in the wrong places.
Michael Hayes (Editor) May 30, 2012 at 01:26 AM
concerned citizen The grand list decreased due to the revaluation done last year, which reflected a significant decline in the value of home prices. It has a lot more to do with the housing bubble than with high taxes.
Robert A. Rioja May 30, 2012 at 02:35 PM
I think that Concerned Citizen was referring to the fact that so many houses in town are vacant and up for sale. On my block alone there are two foreclosures. Now is the time to tighten our belts, all our belts, including the town budget. The proposed addition to Town Hall is another example of a run-away administration. We have to fight this one battle at a time. Let's win the town budget battle before we can go on to the next one.
Shawn O'Connell May 30, 2012 at 09:32 PM
As vice-chair of the Board of Finance, I would like to respond to three items in the postings on this blog. 1) The Board of Finance did increase the salary of the Director of Finance by 4 percent total. Even with the 1.5 percent increase added by the Board of Finance-which will add a thousandth of a mill to our mill rate-our finance director will still be earning 25 percent less than the average for towns in our population group. The finance director provides direct support to our board, and we stand by our evaluation of her contribution to the town. 2) The "insurance buybacks," as Mr. Board calls them, save the town money. The town helps to provide health insurance to all its workers. The "buybacks" provide an incentive to employees to obtain insurance elsewhere if they can. Without that incentive, the town would be paying up to twice as much. 3) Exactly the same amount is budgeted for snow removal next year as this year. The budget line is reduced because we are moving $100,000 in unspent snow removal funds from this year into next year's budget. Of course we hope that it won't snow, but we did not budget on hope. This Board of Selectman and the Board of Finance, with the essential help of the finance director, have presented a budget that is lower than last years and will lead to lower taxes for most people. I urge you to vote yes to both questions on Thursday.
Robert A. Rioja May 30, 2012 at 10:47 PM
It is improper for the Board of Finance (BOF) to increase its own salaries. Some town officials requested some increases, but the BOF decided unilaterally to award even larger increases. Other town officials did not request increases but the BOF awarded them increases anyway. This is all not legal as the BOF does not have the authority to decide salary increases. That is up to a different branch of government. It has been suggested that the BOF has raised the salaries of some town positions because BOF members will be running for those positions in the near future. I don't know what is true, but that is the perception. In my opinion, the "insurance buybacks" do not save us money. If you are already covered by your spouse's insurance, why would you accept the town's? Do you really think that our employees are so evil that they would take our insurance just to cost us money? This implies that we have to bribe our town employees to do the right (and logical) thing. If that's the case, we should fire them. I will vote NO.
Killingworth Watchdog Group June 01, 2012 at 06:28 PM
More that 700 Killingworth residents voted at the budget referendum on 5/31/2012. The people who walked around town getting signatures on the referendum petition succeeded in giving us all the right to vote. We should all be proud of them. It is sad, however, that such a small percentage of our citizens chose to avail themselves of this right. Regardless of how you vote, you should vote every chance you get. Most Killingworth residents gave up their right to be heard. Let's hope that next time, more will be willing to participate.
Killingworth Watchdog Group August 09, 2012 at 01:35 AM
On August 14, 2012 we will hold primary elections. You may have noticed a few signs around Killingworth depicting the Republican elephant. One of the candidates has placed her name on these signs. What you may not know, is that these signs are the property of the Killingworth Republican Town Committee, and the candidate has "appropriated " them and is using them illegally. She never got permission to use the signs, and it is illegal for the Town Committee to use its assets to advertise a candidate. She has been asked to remove her name from the signs and return the signs to their rightful owner. She has refused. This places her party in the unfortunate position of being an unwilling participant in her crime.


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