Jamie Barickman and his wife have three children and have lived in Redding for more than 20 years. Jamie has been active in the community having served on the Redding Board of Education for 12 years (2001-2013), is a member of the Democratic Town Committee, and is a long-time active member of the Redding Congregational church.
While on the school board, Jamie was a strong voice for long-term planning and new ways to improve education outcomes. He was instrumental in the formation of the Board of Finance long-term capital projects committee, co-chaired the successful BOE facilities/long-term capital project committee, and successfully negotiated multiple teacher contracts.
He has a strong financial management background having spent 20 years as a management consultant and corporate executive for public and private companies. He is currently the President and CEO of Infirst Healthcare Inc.
Jamie is running for the BOF because he believes he can bring his business acumen and town government experience to the board to help protect and preserve the town’s values, identify solutions to budget challenges, and foster a collaborative working relationship with all elected officials that will inspire better thinking, better budgets, and better results.
I have the experience, professional background, and temperament to help the new Board of Finance play an integral role in working with our elected town officials and community leaders to keep Redding one of the best small towns in America.
We value open space, high quality schools, limited commercial zoning, a vibrant library, and other community institutions that make Redding a most desirable place to live. The biggest issue we face is our ability to preserve the things that make our town special given our heavy reliance on property taxes.
To maintain the quality of Redding long-term, we need to reduce our reliance on property taxes and find new ways to more efficiently deliver the quality services we value. Greater efficiency doesn’t mean doing less with less; it means doing the same for less or even doing more for less. That requires better planning, better thinking, and better collaboration.
Vision. Collaboration. Results. I have spent 20 years as a management consultant and corporate executive. I know what it means to manage spending, make payroll, and search for new revenue sources. My town government experience and professional background provide me with a unique set of skills to help the next Board of Finance define and communicate a financial vision for our future, identify and nurture new sources of revenue, and work with the other town boards and entire community to find cost-effective solutions to fund the Redding we value.
The Board of Finance needs to lead the town budget process in a much different way. It needs to begin with a frank articulation of the financial horizon for the town and provide a financial roadmap that defines the challenges and opportunities ahead. Such a clear statement of the town health prospects will enable better long-term planning and more relevant public discourse, leading to more successful solutions.
The BOF must provide direction on what it believes the town can afford aligned to Redding's values and vision for the future. Up to now, that leadership has been lacking or not well understood.
With a roadmap well defined, elected board members and town employees can collectively focus on finding solutions that deliver better efficiency and better outcomes.
The next BOF should implement a rolling 3-year budget planning process. This process should begin each fall with a review of the 3-year pro forma annual operating budgets from each of the three boards (Board of Education, Selectmen, and Region 9) along with a similar review of the rolling 3-year projection of our town’s financial health and revenues.
This more transparent public discussion at the start of every annual operating budget cycle means greater and earlier visibility to the financial challenges facing the town and will provide a more meaningful opportunity for town discussion and debate and a focus on affirming our values and where we need to spend or not spend and invest.
Finding sustainable efficiencies in the budget may require more than one budget cycle to identify, regional or public-private partnerships which can be complicated and take time to explore and implement, or require new ways of thinking about delivering the desired services altogether.
An annual operating budget needs both a “top down” and “bottom up” approach: “top down” is numbers driven, “bottom up” is needs driven. Both components are essential to a productive process and a successful budget.
I have sat in both “bottom up” and “top down” seats. For 12 years I worked with my BOE colleagues to develop “bottom up” budgets to serve Redding students and to be responsible stewards for the town. I was also an active participant in a community taskforce (NABR) looking to find an additional 10% “top down” savings in the town education budget through more efficient delivery of services.
Without a transparent “top down” approach, enormous time is wasted, frustration and distrust build, and time is lost that could be applied to finding better near- and long-term solutions.
Excellent schools in Redding are a shared value among Democrats and Republicans. In fact, just like the Redding Democratic platform, the Redding Republicans "advocate an excellent, progressive, innovative, and balanced education for our children."
Excellent schools keep property values high and our town attractive to new residents. Along with beautiful open spaces, nature trails and parks, and less dense residential development, quality public schools are what the town is known for and critical to our future prosperity.
I am committed to keeping the Redding and Easton schools in the top tier of schools in Connecticut: DRG A. The peer group towns of Weston, Ridgefield, Wilton, New Canaan, Westport, and Darien are the benchmark towns that keep Redding's appeal to prospective homeowners high and our property values more robust.
Redding spends nearly $35M a year to educate our children. As a percent of our Grand List, the spending is comparable to Easton (2.1%), lower than Weston (2.3%), but higher than the other, larger DRG A towns. Compared to other small, high-rated school districts (~5 schools, <4K students) around the country, Redding's spending appears to be in line. Spending per pupil is a metric often cited, but it is not the true marginal cost of educating a child or the definitive measurement of the return on our education dollars. I don't believe adding 20 more kindergarten children justifies a $500K budget increase, nor does a 20 student enrollment decline justify a $500K cut.
Better long-term planning, visibility to the future budget challenges, and better respect and collaboration among our elected officials and town employees will help us deliver education excellence at the best cost to the taxpayers.
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