Old Lyme First Selectman Tim Griswold has not been a good fiscal manager, often failing to follow through on a timely basis with matters affecting the town’s budget.
For example, the Board of Selectmen (BOS) approved early this year a proposal for the substantial renovation of the Grassy Hill Bridge with a state grant reimbursing 50% of the cost. Tim failed to put that decision before the Board of Finance for funding but, instead, continued to contemplate alternative plans for the bridge. Indeed, he did not move the project forward at all (as he said he would when he was running for election in 2019) and he failed to request that $200,000 be included in the 2021-2022 town budget to spread out the financial burden over time.
In July the town received $1,081,107 in American Rescue Plan Act funds, the first of two instalments. Because the law gives the town two years to decide how to use the funds and two more to spend them, Tim stated at an August BOS meeting that there was no rush to move forward—and he did not. Since March, Tim had been asked to form a committee to address this issue. He finally formed one in September, which did not meet until October 6.
Tim has fumbled other financial matters for the town. Rather than support using $40,000 of unspent state grant funds for the Sound View sidewalk project for additional eligible construction expenses, he proposed spending the money on non-eligible municipal expenses, meaning that the $40,000 would have to be returned to the state. Tim did not take timely action to address the need for a new transfer station office, with the result that one is now still under construction. Tim failed as Chief of Police to monitor police overtime expenses as they ballooned over budget. More recently it was disclosed that Tim has left the town uninsured with respect to cyber-attacks since July 1, although he has known since February that the town’s cyber coverage would non-renew on that date.
Tim has allowed a beach cleaning service, a private contractor, to use the transfer station and town employees as his bank. This contractor historically runs a debt to the town, his payment checks have bounced at times, and his job performance has been questioned. Yet, Tim did not address these concerns when raised by the Town Finance Director; rather, he provided the contractor with a new agreement without discussion with the BOS.
Outside the town budget, Tim has also let us down with respect to economic development. The revitalized Economic Development Commission and the Halls Road Improvements Committee were the products of the prior administration.
Clearly it is time for improvement. We need a First Selectman with contemporary knowledge, open to listening, committed to identifying and solving problems, and who always follows through. That’s exactly what Martha Shoemaker will bring to Old Lyme.
Old Lyme, CT