Timothy M. Herbst Trumbull budget ‘intellectually dishonest’
Fifteen months ago, when I left office as first selectman, I left a hand-written note to my successor wishing her well and letting her know that her success would be Trumbull’s success. For the last 15 months I have refrained from offering my opinions because as someone who has held the office, I know there is an overabundance of critics. That silence ended when I read the first selectman’s proposed budget and her transmittal letter to the Board of Finance. From its inception, this budget is intellectually dishonest and assumes that the people of Trumbull are gullible in an election year. This budget increases the employee headcount, compromises our schools and raises taxes. It places the interests of a few over the many. To deflect responsibility for her actions and her decisions, Mrs. Tesoro consistently refers to the “previous administration.” I would like to know who exactly Mrs. Tesoro is referring to, as she has retained a finance director, public works director, labor relations director, economic development director and chief of police that i hired.
Each time Mrs. Tesoro has run for office, she has portrayed herself as a champion of education. During my eight years in office, Mrs. Tesoro and her supporters consistently labeled me anti-education. They accused me of decimating the schools at the same time we made full day kindergarten a reality, increased advanced placement courses at the high school and invested in classroom technology more aggressively than any administration that had come before us. In this budget, Mrs. Tesoro’s $2.3 million cut doesn’t even fully fund existing contractual obligations or fixed costs. If I had done that, the PTA Council and Trumbull Education Association would have organized protests outside of my office. This budget is going to result in cuts to programs and staffing. This budget will negatively impact kids. The fact that the PTA and the TEA have remained silent tells you all you need to know about the motives and intentions of both organizations.
As a candidate for first selectman, Mrs. Tesoro said that she would refuse a pay raise and in fact rescind it if elected. She told us she would “spend smarter” and reduce the high-priced salaries in Town Hall. In this proposed budget, Mrs. Tesoro increases the employee headcount. She allows appointees to collect their salary and pension at the same time. While she asks others to do without, she managed to fund two chief administrative officers in her office. No other chief executive in the state of Connecticut, big city or small town, has two chief administrative officers. Mrs. Tesoro also gave herself an annual salary of $121,992 — nearly $7,000 more than what I made when I left office in 2017. Even more insulting, at a time when she is making cuts that will directly impact teaching and learning, she hid pay raises for her office and other senior staff in the contingency line item of the budget. That takes serious Chutzpah! Mrs. Tesoro’s favorite word is “transparency.” I would like to know how any of this is transparent.
The taxpayers of Trumbull should hold Mrs. Tesoro accountable just as they have each one of her predecessors. I speak from experience.
Timothy M. Herbst
The writer was first selectman of Trumbull from 2009 until 2017.