Misleading Statements in First Selectman Cope’s Recent Column

Citizen News, Letter to Editor, October 7, 2015.

To the Editor:

As part of the O’Connor/Lowe administration
(2004-2008), I take exception to the misleading
statements in First Selectman Cope’s recent column.
While he claims to be “Right for Sherman.“ he
certainly is not right on the facts.

Spending on projects was high under our
administration, through a combination of adequate
budgeting to build the capital expenditures fund and
substantial grants that enabled the town to move forward
on neglected infrastructure repairs and upgrades—not
through depleted reserves as Cope claims.

Borrowing was proposed—and approved by a
substantial majority of voters—for much needed
projects that could not be paid for through annual
budget allocations to the capital expenditures fund.
Borrowing is particularly well suited to projects that
are anticipated to have a long-life, spreading the cost
over both the current and future taxpayers who will
benefit from the investments. The projects supported
by the borrowing that the First Selectman seems to
disdain included the expanded library, which Cope
constantly references as his grand achievement in
project management, but one where delays in
planning forced the town to re-enter the bond market
for a small issue at greater cost to taxpayers in
higher interest payments.

Reserves were depleted when our administration
followed the long-standing practice of applying a
portion of reserves to lower the mill rate. Once this
practice was discontinued and a reserve policy was
developed—again, by our administration—reserves
were quickly restored to the point where funds could
be transferred from reserves to the capital
expenditures fund, just as Cope has proposed for the
upcoming Town Meeting.

It is true that Moody’s issued a negative outlook
to the town, but that occurred in 2013—on,Cope’s
watch. The town’s bond rating was never lowered
under my administration—and it hasn’t increased
under Cope’s. The town’s credit rating was Aa2, the
highest level that can be achieved by a town of our
size, when we entered the bond market in 2010 and
continues to stand at Aa2 today.

Cope boasts of a surplus of over $460,000 in the
2014-2015 budget, rightfully crediting the Board of Education for its major contribution to this amount.  Has he forgotten that half of those funds have already been committed to the School boiler project?

Finally, Cope attempts to camouflage his
mismanagement of both the closeout of the ESF
construction and the transfer of Happy Acres to
town management by casting blame on my
administration, when his own ineptitude and
inexperience coupled with an unwillingness to heed
the advice of those more familiar with these issues
worked to the disadvantage of taxpayers.

“Right for Sherman?” Hardly.

Andrea O’Connor,
Sherman, Selectman