Well the finance committee, (FC), took a stand in regard to the police and water company budgets. Not only did they not vote to recommend these budgets; they level funded the police dept. budget and they actually reduced the water company, (WC) budget. My hat’s off the finance committee. I certainly hope the town votes to approve the FC’s recommendation. This is the only way to get the spending in check. This is a great example of how our system works. The finance committee does the research and votes to recommend specific actions to the townspeople. Then the citizens can make a better decision when they vote at the annual town meeting. I’ll get into the details of this move and the rationale behind it.
As you know the water company has been a budgetary concern for a long time. After much discussion the finance committee decided to recommend that we cut the budget in very specific areas. The main area is in wages which caused an automatic cut in the insurance. The FC cannot tell the water commissioners how to spend the monies that are allocated for the WC. However, the voters can. Based on recommendations found in the Sullivan Report the FC voted to reduce one employee position to part time. It is assumed that this is Jack Muskrat’s position. By reducing this position to part time the job no longer requires the town to pay for insurance. The overall savings is in excess of $20,000.00. This will reduce the subsidy that the taxpayers have to pay. Jack’s semi/retirement has been discussed for several years. If the town votes the recommendations of the FC on this issue perhaps Jack’s semi/retirement may finally happen.
The police dept. budget has ballooned to an outrageous level in the last few years. We were told that the hiring of two new officers would not significantly increase the budget. We were told that the part time officers were actually going to be working part time; instead of almost full time in some cases. I don’t know if this is the case but I do know that the acting chief presented a budget that was more than $50,000.00 above last year’s budget. This is where the FC drew the line. They recommended that the town vote to level fund the police budget and the department would have to adjust their spending to last year’s level. Many people commented that the FC needed to get a spine and I guess they listened. If the townspeople back the FC recommendations then the town will be well on its way to fiscal responsibility.
Remember, the selectmen and FC members can only recommend the town take certain action; we the people have to step up and make the decisions to put the town’s finances in order. We do this by showing up for the annual town meeting and voting. The only vote that doesn’t count is the vote that isn’t cast. I hope to see you at both the annual town meeting and the special town meeting. It all starts at 6:00 pm on the 7th of May 2013 at the Mt Everett High School. I know I’ll be there, will you?