To the Editor:
Many years ago the Litchfield BOS voted to discontinue the municipal use of the Bantam Annex in the soon-to-be coming years. It may be time to review that decision as much has changed in the intervening years between then and now.
The State government in Hartford has cut financial contributions to municipalities, the population in the entire state is declining and our taxes are on the rise. We are losing teachers due to lower student enrollment in our schools, and educational programs are being cut in the name of cost savings. This year, local taxpayers may have experienced little to no tax increase, but what will it cost us in the long run if we continue to cut services as we present taxpayers with an unrealistic budget?
The costs associated with building a "new" Town Hall will raise our taxes for years to come and if a decision is made to replace the popular Park and Recreation Departments Gymnasium (which is a large part of the Annex), that will also need to be funded by our tax dollars. It comes down to, where do our priorities lie? Are we more interested in having a costly new building in the center of town, or would we rather invest our tax dollars into the great buildings that we already own?
Renovation of both the Litchfield Town Hall and the Litchfield Town Hall Annex would cost a fraction of what the BOS are otherwise thinking of presenting to the taxpayers at referendum. Instead of new perhaps we should consider continuing their current use while expanding the offerings of community-based programs in the newly vacated space. The property in Bantam has 10.5 acres and a 29,000 sq. ft building, enough capacity to provide growth for many years to come while meeting the needs of our current municipal workers.
Should two referendums be held, some are asking that the vote be held on both the sale of the Annex and the funding for a new Town Hall on the same day, as they are absolutely interconnected decisions. Loss of the Annex, and the space it provides to the municipal offices located there, would render our current Town Hall inadequate.
The BOS and the THRC have stated that there will be 3 informational question-and-answer sessions held, between now and December, to go over taxpayer questions and "educate" the public prior to any referendum/referendums. The meetings are scheduled to be held in 3 different sections of Litchfield, date and location to be announced soon.
If we have concerns about the future direction of our town, we definitely need to make our voices heard at these upcoming Town meetings.
Let's vote to align our priorities with the values that make our community the place we call home. Let us dare to have a bolder vision for our future and our children's future.
Consider that saying no to the sale of The Annex, is saying no for the funding a new town hall.