Fairfield First Selectman Mike Tetreau used his annual State of the Town address to offer a bifurcated view of his municipality, where vibrant local self-reliance is challenged by what he dubbed “instability at the state level.”
In praising Fairfield’s municipal government, the Democratic Tetreau claimed “another solid year for our town’s financial performance,” noting that the fiscal year 2017 budget came with “a decrease in town side expenses (that) did not reduce or defer any services.” He also highlighted Fairfield’s AAA credit rating and the commercial property market, stating that “commercial building activity surged in 2016 eclipsing the $64 million mark – this is nearly double the prior year and the third highest total in the last 15 years.”
However, Tetreau stated that while the town is losing tax revenue following Sacred Heart University’s purchase of the General Electric property, it will also have to weather greater fiscal storms due to “significant cuts” in municipal aid from Hartford.
“The major component of the revenue shortfall is caused by instability at the state level,” he said. “This instability is leading to dramatic and immediate reductions in aid leaving us with little time to adjust. As the state develops a new approach to educational funding it will most likely have a major impact on our town.”
Tetreau added that “this is a critical time in Fairfield’s history,” though he insisted on an optimistic view of the future. “Fairfield has a strong financial foundation as validated by our AAA credit rating,” he said. “We are better positioned than most towns in the state to withstand reductions. It is crucial to plan properly for a future that has so much uncertainty.”