To the Editor:
Regarding Kim Healy‘s letter on local zoning control, while I strongly disagree with pretty much the entire thing, I wanted to draw particular attention to one issue, the so-called “mansion tax.”
If you believe, as I hope most of us do, that every child in Connecticut deserves a great education, and you acknowledge that the property tax bases of many of our cities are (through no fault of their own) too low to pay for a world-class education for every child living in them, there are three ways you can address that problem:
- Regionalization, pooling students and resources from neighboring cities and towns so that every child in the area can attend an excellent, diverse, well-funded school
- Affordable housing, making it possible for more people to move out of cities and into towns with great school systems like Wilton’s
- Redistribution, collecting money from residents of wealthy towns and using it to support the school systems of less wealthy ones.
If “local control” is important to you, as it seemingly is to Ms. Healy, then you ought to be an enthusiastic supporter of option #3, as it’s the only one under which Wilton retains full control of its school system and zoning. If you don’t want the state forcing you to merge with other school systems, and you don’t want the state forcing you to erect reasonably-priced apartments, then you should strongly favor a system in which money is pooled but control remains local. It is the absolute least we can do.
Personally, I don’t think that goes nearly far enough; sending money to urban school districts without also trying to break down the barriers that keep people out of suburban ones is simply an ugly 21st-century perpetuation of “separate but equal.” Redistributing money so that we are no longer in a situation where a child in Wilton has $22,000/year spent on their education while a child in Bridgeport has $14,000/year spent on theirs would be a step in the right direction, but only a baby step.
I recognize that my views are likely not shared by a majority of Wilton voters yet, but I also believe that that will change over time, as older residents leave and younger ones move in to replace them, and that until then, Wilton loudly opposing efforts to make our state a more equitable place to live will only serve to scare away new residents and make us look like a town full of angry Neanderthals.
If Haskell and Thomas need to oppose these bills to keep their seats then so be it – they have to keep their constituents happy and can do more good in office than out of it – but I very much hope that they do so quietly and reluctantly, rather than letting the likes of Ms. Healy goad them into leading another obnoxious “Hands off our Schools” type fiasco.