Saying the Town Council needs more members with financial experience in order to control taxes in New Canaan, Roy Abramowitz said he intends to throw his hat in the ring when the caucus gets underway later this spring.
A Republican Town Committee member from 2010 to 2012, Abramowitz said he’s concerned about talk that New Canaan might pay for projects through bonding because down the road, the town would need to either pay down the bond by cash or refinance it at far higher rates.
“The interest rates are low now but you need to pay back the principal,” Abramowitz said. “So when rates go up and we’re back in the Carter years, and even if the rates are 8 percent, not 18 percent, they’re going to have to refinance indentures at an interest rate that’s 400, 500, 600 percent higher than it is today. The effect on the mill rate is going to be astronomical—exponentially higher—and our children who want to live in this town are totally doomed.”
Half of the seats on the 12-member Town Council, including four held by Republicans, are up for re-election this year, according to the Town Clerk’s office.
Though it’d be very early now formally to declare candidacy for a municipal election, Abramowitz said it’s “more than likely” he’ll run.
His comments come just two-and-a-half months after he withdrew his own name from consideration for a then-vacant seat on the council in the wake of an email distributed among Town Council members. Sent Jan. 10 by town resident Michael Farrell to Town Council Chairman Mark DeWaele and then distributed to the entire group that morning—the same day the group was voting to fill the vacant seat—the email implied that Abramowitz had misrepresented his professional credentials and background.
Neither Farrell nor DeWaele could be reached for comment.
Part of Farrell’s email reads: “Mr. Abramowitz is not listed as registered to practice as a Certified Public Accountant by the state of Connecticut, but is so listed in New York.”
In fact, Abramowitz holds both a 2012 and 2013 state-issued permit to practice public accountancy in Connecticut, according to documents he provided Patch—and the state board since it was made aware of Farrell’s email and its assertions also issued Abramowitz a Connecticut CPA license.
For Abramowitz, what’s most troubling about what transpired in January are the timing of the email's distribution (the day of the vote for a seat that had been vacated by a member who went to the state legislature) and the fact that the email was distributed to Town Council members before he had a chance to address the claims it made.
“It was just a total lack of civility, and if that’s where New Canaan’s leadership on the council is heading, then that’s not a good thing,” Abramowitz said.
Looking forward, Abramowitz said he plans to pursue a Town Council seat this year so that taxpayers don’t risk problems such as the widely discussed Lakeview Avenue Bridge project and its aftermath. Completed in 2009, the project included about $1.5 million in taxpayer funds that were not appropriated through proper channels. New Canaanites were shocked to learn that an arbitration settlement in 2011 of about $650,000 had been paid for the project from the town's capital budget without approval the Town Council itself, among other municipal bodies.
Abramowitz said he had been an outspoken critic within the RTC (at that time) of how the misappropriations were made, even though the project developed during the administration of former First Selectman Jeb Walker, a Republican.
“I do budgets, I compare budgets, budgets just like for Lakeview Avenue,” Abramowitz said. “That never would have happened when I was on the Town Council.”
“When you budget ‘X’ in legal fees and all the sudden it’s 300 percent of what you budgeted, I would have asked ‘Why is the variance so high?’ “ Abramowitz said. “I’m a forensic auditor. I repair and organize budgets. And I stand by what I believe in, even if it means standing alone.”
In this municipal election year, New Canaan voters will cast ballots for first selectman, selectmen, Town Council, treasurer, Board of Education, Board of Assessment Appeals and constables, officials say.