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Fairfield First Selectman Talks Loss Of GE, Impact On Town

Courtesy of Sacred Heart University
An aerial view of the former global headquarters of General Electric in Fairfield, Conn. Sacred Heart University entered into an agreement to purchase the 66-acre campus last week.

Michael Tetreau, first selectman of Fairfield, Connecticut, said on Tuesday that Sacred Heart University’s purchase of General Electric’s former global headquarters will ensure the property remains vibrant.

Tetreau says that’s because Sacred Heart University would put the property to good use.

“In the long term having an institution like Sacred Heart growing and vibrant certainly helps our local town economy, certainly helps the culture, certainly brings jobs to Fairfield and provides Fairfield with another amenity that our residents can share,” Tetreau says.

However, the first selectman says he’s concerned that in the short term, his town is losing $1.8 million a year in property taxes. That’s because Sacred Heart is a non-profit institution. He says this could mean short term budget cuts for the town, including to local education.

“Our educational expense is 65 percent of our budget, so it’s the ultimate irony that an educational institution of higher learning would force us to cut our local education budget.”

Tetreau says he’s hoping Fairfield might be able to get some state payments in lieu of taxes to help offset the loss of revenue from the 66-acre property.

Sacred Heart purchased the property last week for $31.5 million. The university plans to begin offering classes there next fall.

Disclosure: Sacred Heart University owns the broadcast license of WSHU Public Radio, which is funded primarily with listener support.

As WSHU Public Radio’s award-winning senior political reporter, Ebong Udoma draws on his extensive tenure to delve deep into state politics during a major election year.