Report by Paula Antolini, May 7, 2019, 2:43PM EDT
OPINION / LETTER TO THE EDITOR
Picture this: You’re an elected member of an important town committee, and you and one other person represent the minority party. Imagine several of the five majority members, as well as the “ex-officio,” regularly engaging in pre-meeting “caucuses” before the meetings to create their own “plans of action.”
That’s the current Bethel Board of Finance.
I’m used to being in the minority. However, never have I served on a board that used such bully tactics and propaganda to effect their goals.
On April 11, the Bethel Town Budget failed at referendum. This is a signal that taxpayers find the budget is too high.
On April 12, the Board of Finance met. The majority board members had pre-crafted a plan for reductions, and a list of motions were put out for a vote that contained a mere $100,000 in reductions — $30,000 of that taken from Parks and Rec’s and the Senior Center’s revenue-generating programs. When my minority colleague and I requested that all members give their feedback prior to voting, we were summarily dismissed by the chair.
Added in was a state rebate (yet to be received) for the 2009 high school renovation of $285,000. This board would have you believe that $385,000 that has actually been cut from the failed budget!
Here’s the implied message: See what happens when you vote down a budget? Better vote “yes” this time or we’ll cut more small service departments.
They will tell you the goal is to reduce short-term debt. This is an excellent idea. But not at this pace. Currently there is $620,000 in an account that called “capital non recurring.” Stocking this account does not help the taxpayer in the short term. The real problem is spending.
Don’t allow yourself to be bullied. On Tuesday, May 7, vote NO TOO HIGH.