Sunday, May 26, 2019

Town Council - Budget Hearings Recap - May 22-23, 2019

A disappointing performance by the Town Council in the two budget budget hearings. Why? They conducted a "public hearing" where they did not allow the public to speak on the first night. Is that really a public hearing? The first night was also marred by a series of questions by one councilor badgering a manager with whom he clearly has demonstrated a dislike. 

This was a budget hearing not a personnel performance discussion and totally inappropriate in the 'public forum'. That no one interceded to take it offline was also a disappointment.

The second night closed on a high note with the goodbyes and well wishes for the retiring Town Administrator Jeff Nutting. Jeff has been a professional and dedicated manager for the 12 plus years I have observed and reported on the town's business. I wish him well in his retirement.

Oh and yes, the budget as proposed was passed with two votes. The two votes were required to enable Councilor Glenn Jones to participate in almost all of the discussion and only recuse himself from the vote on the Tri-County portion of the budget. A sensible solution to a potential conflict of interest situation.

The schools will cut teachers, kindergarten aides, and high schoolers will pay for parking among the key take aways. Many of the critical needs prepared for by the schools in their initial budget will go unmet. It may be just this year but for the students, it is one year in school that they don't get to do over. 

The method of sharing the budget info is not one that works well. While the Council got their questions answered, they easily skipped over including the public in the discussion. Given the reality of tough budget decisions next year and more across the board than the road repair funds and schools, this should also be a consideration. How best to get the residents and voters involved with the budget details?

Links below provide the detailed notes reported during the meetings as well as links to the budget documents.

Wednesday, May 22

Agenda for the first hearing

Thursday, May 23

Town Council - Budget Hearings Recap - May 22-23, 2019
New Town Administrator Jamie Hellen makes his remarks thanking
Jeff Nutting for his service and guidance 

1 comment:

  1. I totally agree Steve. I worked with Mike D'Angelo on 2 building committees (Fire Station and the Senior Center addition) and found him to be extremely competent and knowledgeable and did not deserve the grand standing from a T.C. member.

    Ken Norman