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Weinstein Sets Goals for Weston

Taxes, pension plans and unfunded mandates are the primary concerns for First Selectman Gayle Weinstein . And working closely with Rep.-elect John Shaban , a Republican, is crucial to ensuring that the town's goals are met, she said.

"He's been responsive to our concerns," Weinstein said of Shaban. "We want to be able to preserve any revenue we currently have through the real estate conveyance tax, which has been a fight every year since they instituted this."

The conveyance is a one-time tax charged when a new home is purchased in town. Last year, the General Assembly extended the tax for another year, but Weston officials would like to make it permanent.

"It has a great impact on the town, but has little impact elsewhere," she said of the tax revenue. "When a lot of homes were being sold in Weston, it generated revenue up to about $300,000." If the tax were eliminated, "it's going to be a problem for us," she said.

Weinstein also noted concern for the rising costs of pension plans for towns. The town's annual cost has increased steadily while the employees' contribution has remained static. "We feel that we need to get a little bit of parity there because it's costing municipalities way too much," she said. "We also would like to put a second tier of benefits for new employees."

The first selectman added that the rising pension and insurance costs are the primary challenges at budget time. "Looking at double digit [health insurance] increases year after year is something that is not sustainable," she said.

Weinstein also opposes any law that imposes unfunded mandates on the town. "A lot of times, laws are put into place at the state level for emotional reasons without looking at the financial consequences to the municipalities."

Do you agree with Weinstein's priorities? Are there other issues that need to be addressed? Tell us what you think by leaving a comment in the box below.

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