To the Editor:
Tuesday night, the Budget Committee after lengthy discussion voted to send a message of guidance to the Board of Selectmen and the School Board outlining what the committee's expectations for the budgets this upcoming year from the town and school. That message: bring forward budgets that are 10% less than last year. The roll call on that vote was one against, two abstentions and the remainder of the members present in the affirmative.
There are sixteen voting members on the Budget Committee. Twelve are elected to represent the voters for terms of one, two or three years. The four remaining members are appointed, one each, from the Board of Selectmen, the School Board, and the two water precincts.
Tuesday night, one elected member and one appointed member were absent. The appointed member from the School Board voted against the motion. The appointed member from the Board of Selectmen abstained because he felt that his was not his place as their appointed representative to give guidance to the board he represents (and I agree with his decision.)
The Chairman of the Budget Committee abstained as he generally does when the outcome of the vote is clearly decided without his vote one way or the other (that is just the way he operates.) The appointed member from the Grasmere Water Precinct (that would be me) and all the remaining elected members present voted for the message of guidance.
I believe the Budget Committee acted upon the hard facts of today's economic conditions and, more importantly, inputs from the voters. Inputs loudly given at the January 2010 public presentation of the budgets, at the respective Deliberative Sessions of 2010, and at the March Town Election, in addition to one-on-one conversations with taxpayers, many letters to the editor, and more.
A fellow committee member said to me after the meeting, "I predict that there will be no spirit of cooperation between the governing boards and the Budget Committee in trying to reach this goal." I ask just how unreasonable our governing bodies will be in their responses to the message to seriously address spending in this time of severe financial difficulties. I hope I am over reacting. I hope the governing bodies will come forward with trim, tight, responsible budgets reflecting the economic realities the taxpayers are facing on a daily basis.