To the Editor:

In this strangest of budget seasons, New Milford citizens are being forced to make difficult choices. Voters have witnessed the town and school budgets go down, up, and essentially sideways. The tax increase has gone up, down, and back up.

What are Mayor Bass and the Republican Town Council doing? Most appear unprepared, and their decisions make no sense.

New Milford Democrats see the direct result of this poor leadership: chaos that’s splitting the town apart.

One of the worst examples is the treatment of our volunteer firefighters.

For many, many years they have served New Milford with dignity, honor, and honesty. Yet the firefighter’s annual budget request — for vital equipment they need to help you — is not being fully funded.

The firemen’s honesty is suddenly being called into question by every Town Council Republican, Lisa Hida, and the deafening silence of the mayor.

New Milford Democrats view this as shortsighted and disrespectful. We fully support our firefighters, their legitimate request for critical equipment, and denounce comments ridiculing the fire department’s budget presentation.

Just as important, New Milford Democrats denounce the silence from the mayor and Republicans on the Town Council. Silence = Approval.

The fire department’s integrity was called into question June 7 by Mrs. Hida. Months after the budget presentation she made highly critical comments about the fire department, suggesting their time honored presentation style did not meet “her” standards.

Other council members agreed — despite the fact they should have addressed this months (or years) ago. The implication was they did not trust the firefighters’ numbers, despite that it could only be used for major capital purchases like replacement fire trucks.

For experienced members (Bass, Francis, Esposito, Szymanski) to say nothing remains indefensible.

Mrs. Hida also complained she did not get a return call from the fire chiefs after leaving a message at 10 a.m. that same day. Our firefighters are all volunteers; they have other jobs and duties that may not allow them to return a call immediately.

Further, a Town Council member should go through the mayor’s office if they want information on a Town department.

New Milford Democrats call for an end to the chaos. The mayor and Republicans must make a choice: take the blame for turmoil and splitting the Town apart, or; stop remaining silent — and fully support our volunteer firefighters.

Mary Jane Lundgren

Democratic Town Committee Chair

Adrienne Aurichio

Theresa McSpedon

Jeff Winter