Report by Paula Antolini, April 27, 2019, 9:58AM EDT
OPINION / LETTER TO THE EDITOR
The majority on Bethel’s board of finance is on a maniacal mission to eliminate the town’s short term debt, aggressively funded by us, the taxpayers. No one disputes the need to pay the town’s credit more than a minimum payment, but $650,000 is just too much, and too fast because it has a direct and adverse impact on spending.
After the first referendum was rejected, and the Too High was three times higher than the too low, the majority on the board of finance chose to play a shell game, lowering that $650k to $385k after learning that the results of a State Audit “might” result in a one-time benefit of $285k. At the town meeting, it was disclosed by the Town Comptroller that no one really knows when the State will send the payment, or even if it’s 100% guaranteed!
The BOF made a choice to take $100,000 out of several departments, overtime, contracted services; when they could have reduced both their capital wish-list or reduce their artificially high pace of paying off debt.
That $100k, put in perspective, is like going to the store to purchase a new air conditioner for $316 and asking for a discount. Generously, the discount offered is just a buck.
An additional $120k reduction was requested against the Capital wish-list and rejected by the Town Meeting (as expected, BOF supporters came out). Nothing prevents the town from using the fund balance or borrowing for true “needs-list” items that might arise, but then there’s that maniacal focus against appropriate use of our AAA credit rating! That rejected $120k reduction would have brought Town spending increases in line with the School budget’s increase.
I’ll be voting NO, TOO high again, to tell the BOF to listen to us, Bethel’s voters!