|Peter Bragdon, budget committee chair|
The board of selectmen will be having a special board meeting tomorrow night (Wed.) at 6pm. One of the agenda items is the budget process and doing away with the budget committee this year. You can access the meeting by requesting a zoom code from firstname.lastname@example.org. By law you will be able to speak at the meeting thru Zoom. You can also email your thoughts asap to the email listed above.
While you can form your own opinion, I just wanted to state that I feel the budget committee is a vital part to the process and should not be cut. Due to expected large shortfalls in revenue next year there are some significant cuts that are being recommended. While I will not speak in favor or opposed at this time those cuts include:
• eliminating the parks and rec director either completely or to very minimum programs,
• reducing the planner to part time,
• reducing public works by one employee,
• removing the battery operated extrication tool from the fire and rescue department budget.
Still on the table:
• cutting the library’s operating hours by 10 hours a week along with eliminating the assistant librarian.
The current town meeting is scheduled for June 15th. I honestly think it is going to be a stretch to meet then. If we do not meet then, we will continue to operate on our current budget until we have a town meeting. It is my recommendation that the town meeting be moved out until June 29th. This gives two more weeks for the budget committee to work thru the new budget. I strongly believe that if the budget is presented as is to the townspeople, parts of it will fail.
We cannot have a budget that does this much change to the town without a proper process to have the public express their views. I encourage you to request the board of selectmen have the budget committee meet by Zoom one more time to make their final recommendations. Then take public input on the two proposed budgets. Both budgets should be made available to the townspeople at the town meeting. This will allow the voters to have more choices and they can select which option is best for the town. If the budget committee does not meet, then there will be only one number on the town meeting warrant and it can either be accepted as is, reduced or voted to zero.
Whatever your feelings may be, I encourage you to get involved in this process. What is happening with this budget can change the shape of New Gloucester for the future. I feel citizen involvement is very vital to this process.