Tuesday, September 29, 2009

A recent LTTE of the Herald

A guest post that first ran in the Herald:

Editor, The Cheshire Herald,

On September 1st the Democratic majority on the Town Council approved a Capital Budget that includes 21 projects and $7.85 million in the first year. The minority council members had proposed an alternative budget for about $420,000 less but, as usual, the Democrats went with their higher number.

One Council majority member said, “Our Capital Budget is kind of like your kitchens, bathrooms, and new cars. You’re investing in your house. You have to repair and remediate. When you spend money on your house, there’s a return on that investment.” Well, I’m not sure that his philosophy is quite the same as many residents who are tightening their own budgets, reducing expenses, or those who have lost their jobs or have had to take pay cuts and furlough days. Sure these residents, if they had to, would make minor repairs to their homes and cars, but with the housing market the way it is, I doubt they’d sink their hard earned money into major home projects not knowing if they’d ever get a return on their investment. And I’m not sure in this difficult economic time that residents are running out and buying new cars.

Spending on the community pool also became an issue in the Capital Budget. With still no concrete plan in place for the pool, the Democrats approved nearly $200,000 more in spending. The Republican council members wanted any further spending to come from the general fund where expenditures could be better managed, and the public would have more of a say in what happens with the pool.

Just as we have to tighten our budgets and maybe go without something in one year, we hope our Councilors would take the same approach with the town budget. Last year the Democratic majority made a $125,000 reduction to expenses in one area, yet in this Capital Budget they’ve doubled their spending in that same area to make up for it. Just when you think they might be trying to save some money, they spend twice as much!

When it comes to spending our tax dollars, I had hoped our current Council majority would be able to prioritize and concentrate on the “needs” of our town. What’s next on their agenda? Are they going to push through their turf field project even though it’s not mentioned in their Five Year Capital Budget? Let’s hope that on November 3rd things change and we’ll have a Council that can better manage our tax dollars.

Sue Zentek

And speaking of the turf with the election in mind... the Council majority and control of the agenda matters. In July 2008, I tried to get state officials to explain the turf grant to the Council and the voters. Unsurprisingly, the explanation was never given.

Tim White

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