Tuesday night’s vote was not easy for me. As you and many Cafe visitors know, I am very much pro education and in recent years have always voted (at times in the minority) in favor of proposing a BOE budget higher than what we had asked the BOE to come in at. I unfortunately cannot agree to any large increases this year given the economy. I shared with everyone present Tuesday night my own financial hardships and I know there are many families in town who are in the same boat. The BOF has the following responsibility under the town’s ordinance:
“The Board of Finance is the budget-making authority responsible for financial and taxation matters, presenting the annual operating budget and special appropriations to the Town Meeting for its approval, and for establishing the tax rate.”
Unfortunately this year we all felt it was time to exercise our veto. Now, with that said, I believe (and you can confirm this since you were there) there was a request to place a poll directly on the ballot, where voters will be able to indicate why they voted yes or no on the budget. I spoke with the town clerk and suggested that there be several options provided for both a “yes” and “no” vote.
Kevin, as you well know yourself, one of the biggest frustrations to serving on any board or commission is the apathy on the part of the towns voters. Tuesday night was the first time in many months that we had public participation. Unfortunately, that participation was not truly a cross section of the voting public. It was the Town and its employees and the school board and their employees. Out of the crowd, we had about a half dozen or so citizens, but then again, I know just about all of them and it offered no fresh perspective to the issues. So, yes we will have a public hearing and yes, I, personally am open to changing the proposed budget if we can get enough input from citizens. Other than that, all I can recommend is for everyone to contact the BOS to encourage them to place the exit poll on the ballot. If the budget fails to pass, and it is due to the belief by the majority of the town’s voters that it severely impacts education, we will have no other option than to raise the amount budgeted and put it back to the voters.
We are in a tough economy this year, as in the past three years, and my crystal ball aint workin! Its not about BOF vs BOE, it is the mess the state, the nation and the world is in at the moment, and as the governor has stated, it is a time of shared sacrifice, and that includes all levels of town government. The town’s voters will ultimately have to decide this issue.