Editor's Note: The following candidate statement was submitted by Avon Democrat Ben Colman, a candidate for Town Council. Interested in submitting a candidate statement? Send your statement of no more than 500 words with a photo to Jessie.Sawyer@patch.com. We'll run them in the order they are submitted. You can also start a political blog and post your statement there at avon.patch.com/blogs/new.
I grew up locally in Bloomfield and attended the University of Hartford
where I earned a BA degree. After graduating, I moved overseas to travel,
continue my studies and to work, spending most of my time in the Czech Republic
and Norway. After several years abroad, I decided to move back to Connecticut
to begin my career and start a family. I initially moved back to Bloomfield,
but have been in Avon for almost nine years. My wife Melanie and I have three
sons – each in a different Avon public school. I work for Women’s Health USA, a
company located in Avon. I’m the President & CEO of one of our
I am running for the Town Council. Issues important to me are revenue sources, funding of key services, expense management/efficiencies, and maintaining Avon’s character.
I believe we need to focus on more ways to raise revenue– the Town has fallen short in this area. We should broaden the tax base by attracting non-intrusive commercial development and new businesses to town. To begin with, we need to allow land in desirable and appropriate locations to be developed for purposes that will generate revenue but not add unreasonable burdens on our town and schools. Next, we should provide short to medium term tax abatements, reduction in permit fees (building permits, etc.), and development incentives. It’s a strategic investment in our future - short term and nominal sacrifices for long term gains in additional tax revenue.
We should also be as efficient as possible in the delivery of municipal services, including consolidating school and town administrative functions, increasing the number of functions that we share with neighboring towns (e.g., human resources, payroll, other areas where there is duplication), and sharing equipment and public works. Lastly, we should constantly be securing additional state and federal grants, and working to reduce state mandates that we are forced to pay.
Like other towns, we face the challenge of growing the tax base while maintaining the town’s character. We live in Avon because of its unique and special character. We must also continue to balance the high level of education against rising costs. We can achieve these goals by making strategic and appropriate land use decisions, securing our fair share of state and federal grants, running our town more efficiently, and gaining economies of scale with neighboring towns where appropriate. This will also enable us to finance capital costs for police and fire departments at a level that provides the necessary staff and capital equipment to keep our citizens safe.
Also, I believe our eligible seniors and veterans are entitled to meaningful tax relief.
Avon has done a very poor job of communicating our frustration with the state over unfunded mandates. It is not enough to simply pay dues to an organization that represents all towns. Avon's best interests are not necessarily aligned with most other towns. We also need to frequently meet with our state representatives and remind them that they represent us as well as their hometowns. Town government should encourage our community to contact our representatives when there are matters before the state legislature that will have a direct impact on the quality of our lives here.
Finally, our town council members must not be afraid of exploring new ways of managing town services and revenue. While past methods can be the best way to proceed, relying on anything less than best management practices is a disservice to our community. Sometimes you have to invest money in order to save far more money in the future. My business and management experiences would allow me to offer new insights.