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Candidates Discuss Open Space, Farmland at Tolland County Agricultural Center

Candidates for the 35th State Senate District and 8th State Assembly District gathered at a 'meet the candidates' event on Wednesday night.

The Tolland County Agricultural Center was filled with voters Wednesday night listening to the candidates for the 35th and 8th state districts discuss open space, support for small farms and economic development in their constituent towns.

"The numbers show that farmland costs about 34 cents for every tax dollar that is brought into the town," said 8th District State Rep. Tim Ackert (R), taking his statistics from the Connecticut Farm Bureau website. "Local business brings in about 29 cents for every dollar presented. It's a good investment," he added, explaining that residential properties typically cost towns $1.19 per tax dollar. 

Susan Eastwood (D), challenger for the 35th State Senate District, said that the state needs to revamp its tax system, suggesting that a progressive income tax could free residents form high property taxes, a problem in rural communities without large numbers of businesses, such as Tolland or Ellington.

"It would keep us from balancing the budget on the back of property owners," she said. "The current system causes residents to fight over their schools."

State Sen. Tony Guglielmo (R) added that the state has grants and programs in place to assist rural communities, whether by providing tax incentives for open space through PA-490, or through dairy farm reinforcement programs. However, he said that "big-ticket" state projects tie up tax payer money, sometimes leaving the rural programs unfunded.

"We have programs in place, and it's a question of making sure they're properly funded," he said. "We need to refocus the basics, which we haven't always done a good job of in Connectcut. It's not an infinite amount of money. It's finite."

challenger for the 8th District seat, said that he wants to ensure that the state and towns work together to preserve open space and the rural character of local towns.

"It's really about the structure and intent of our local Plan of Conservation and Development," he said. "The state plan needs to become more in sync with the town plans."

Click here for a look at how the state POCD can affect local development.

Other topics discussed included promoting small business as opposed to national chains and supporting the sale of locally grown foods in grocery stores and local schools.

Ashford, Chaplin, Coventry, Eastford, Ellington, Hampton, Pomfret, Stafford, Tolland, Union, Vernon, Willington and Woodstock comprise the 35th State Senate District. Columbia, Coventry, Vernon and Tolland make up the 8th State Assembly District.

The Save Open Space-Coventry Advocates organized the event.

Check out the attached videos to watch the candidate introductions from Wednesday night.

Tom October 06, 2012 at 03:20 PM
perserving open space at whose expense. If The town of Vernon or Ashford want allocate funds for land preservation or other entities step up to purchase land within the context of a MPOD thats fine. What i am opposed to is a significant increase in any state revenue via tax increases of any kind going to support such a plan. I am fully in support of and have been for a very long time the sale of development rights by farms to municipalities.What i am against is the reasoning as expressed by Ms. Eastwood." tax could free residents form high property taxes, a problem in rural communities without large numbers of businesses, such as Tolland or Ellington." So Tolland and Ellington want someone else to subsidize their quality of life. in a macro sense the argument equates to lowering effective tax rates on the 1% who you love so much to improve their quality of life. Perhaps Ms. Eastwood should study logic before making such statements.
Jim G. October 06, 2012 at 03:26 PM
Marin County is, always has been and will remain such a special case that you can't apply what happens there to any other spot in the US. Ditto for the lunatic politics of Berkeley. And, in many ways, ditto for California. What CT needs to do is not make the (California) mistake of letting towns sprawl with little control until 'open space' means a manicured park squeezed in between streets. There's a long, long spectrum between here and the CA model.
Jim G. October 06, 2012 at 03:29 PM
Tom, you seem to be having an argument with some other topic here. Unless your income is substantial, a progressive tax would lower yours - and would significantly increase it on the top 10% and 1%. Your arguments seem to be the complete reverse and making the assumption that all tax changes would be on your back.
Bill Dauphin October 06, 2012 at 04:51 PM
Tom: >>What i am opposed to is a significant increase in any state revenue via tax increases of any kind going to support such a plan.<< I didn't hear ANY of those candidates express support for "a significant increase" in state revenue; ALL of them expressed support for rebalancing/restructuring how the state (and its local subunits) collect revenue. No doubt they're plans would be different, but for you to single out Susan Eastwood for criticism on this point is disingenuous. >>What i am against is the reasoning as expressed by Ms. Eastwood." tax could free residents form high property taxes, a problem in rural communities without large numbers of businesses, such as Tolland or Ellington."<< First, note that the words you put in quotes are actually the reporter's summary, not actually a quotation from Eastwood. The summary is accurate enough, but your use of quotation marks is misleading. Next, that particular comment is about the balance between residential and commercial properties, and while that's not entirely unrelated to open space preservation, it's an issue for ANY majority residential community, regardless of open space issues: It's just as big a concern for homeowners in a suburban "bedroom" community as it is for a rural town. But you miss the point: ALL of the candidates supported both open space preservation and property tax reform, yet you pick on just one: Perhaps you have an axe to grind?
Bill Dauphin October 06, 2012 at 04:53 PM
Urrk! In my previous reply, "they're" should have been "their"; I hate when that happens!

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