Note from candidate for Ridgefield First Selectman, Dick Moccia in regard to recent Virtual Forum that was hosted by Ridgefield Chamber:
I would like to thank the Ridgefield Chamber of Commerce for hosting this virtual candidate forum. Unfortunately, due to an email miscommunication between the Republican RTC and my campaign, I did not receive the Chamber questions when they were first sent out. It was not my intention to ignore the Chamber, its members or the public and am thankful to the Chamber for allowing me the opportunity to offer my responses to these important questions.
What type of policy or incentives would you endorse to encourage Main Street retail and minimize turnover?
Economic Development shouldn't be implemented one street at a time. We need a comprehensive plan of economic development that allows for the development of Ridgefield’s commercial zones, while protecting Ridgefield’s residential neighborhoods. Any incentive plan should be one that is available to businesses seeking to locate to or expand in Ridgefield, and is designed with an understanding of the size, and economic and tax impact to Ridgefield. While I strongly believe in economic incentives to attract business, those incentive should not create an onerous burden on residential taxpayers.
Are you prepared to propose tax credits (e.g. personal property tax) and other economic benefits to incentivize companies considering relocating to Ridgefield?
While I support incentives, including tax abatement programs, those programs must be developed carefully and with an understanding that both commercial and residential taxpayers are treated fairly. A thriving commercial tax base is important to controlling the mill rate and the overall tax burden placed upon all taxpayers.
As a business owner, our sewer costs have just doubled. What are you going to do to reduce these costs and get them under control?
The current plan, which resulted in a 60% increase in both residential and commercial sewer tax, was poorly conceived and implemented, and unfortunately, the current administration sold the taxpayers of Ridgefield a bill of goods. Our citizens need forward-thinking leadership. As First Selectman, I will work with WPCA and appoint members to the WPCA that will create a new and fairer usage- based sewer fee. A senior citizen household, comprised of two people, should not be paying the same rate as a household of five. In addition to a usage-based fee structure, I will work to implement a modern hookup fee structure that takes into account actual costs as well as size of development. I will also work with the Board of Selectman, Board of Finance and WPCA to develop a plan to properly fund our town's fund balance so as to meet the needs of future infrastructure maintenance and repair programs.
Do you support easing signage restrictions for local businesses trying to boost traffic? Why or why not?
I think Ridgefield has fair and reasonable signage regulations. I certainly wouldn't want our lovely community and majestic Main Street to look like Federal Road. Signage in the 21st Century is now located far more effective on digital platforms and social media. At this point, while I am open to reviewing new and innovative ways for Ridgefield businesses to advertise. I think our current sign regulations serve the purposes intended.
Should the Economic & Community Development Commission’s budget be spent on general town marketing or seeking to recruit businesses to Ridgefield?
Both! Economic Development is not a single edge sword. Its purpose is both marketing and creating and implementing new initiatives to seek out new business and making sure that we retain the businesses we have and help them grow. The ECDC needs strong direction coupled with strong support from the Board of Selectman. As First Selectman, I will make Economic Development and the ECDC a top priority and give the fine volunteers on the Commission a clear message and work with them through the budget process to make sure they are properly funded. Finally, 3 years ago, Ridgefield spent tens of thousands of dollars on an economic development study performed by Screadvisors that is just sitting on a shelf. We should take it down, dust it off and determine what recommendations can be implemented to improve our economic development climate.