Letter: Tiverton Budget Committee plays key role in FTR process

Posted

To the editor:

Two points need to be made about the work of the Budget Committee this season.

First, although certain Budget Committee members were vilified with vitriol and near hysteria, voters should not believe those who want to paint the Budget Committee process as distorted as a read of the actual approved minutes of the Budget Committee reveals a different story.

• It has always been the plan, once the Budget Committee commenced its voting on what would be their recommended budget, that the Open Public Forum agenda item would be discontinued. This did occur pursuant to a majority vote of the Budget Committee.

• When the Open Public Forum was on the agenda, no comments were made at four meetings, and only 12 different individuals (out of 12,809 registered voters) made any comments at the other four.

• The vote was 8 to 2 to keep the school budget at a maintenance of effort level of $29,893,257, and 9 to 1 to allow Chairman Cecil Leonard to send the chairman of the School Committee a letter reflecting this decision. (At this time, the Budget Committee had just 10 members due to John Souza's resignation.)

These minutes actually reveal a Budget Committee that operated by a majority vote - not the whims of a special interest block. The Budget Committee has 11 members, so a minimum of six votes of members is necessary to attain a majority vote. This Budget Committee was particularly note-worthy in the hard work and research and persuasiveness offered by many of its members to reach such a consensus. Pages and pages of extensive independent research undertaken by, and shared with, Budget Committee members are appended to these minutes.

In addition, the usual site visits took place, usually on Saturday mornings, at the Fire Department (all stations), the Police Department, the Department of Public Works, all the Tiverton schools, the library, and the senior center. And, during its open meetings the Budget Committee heard from all the town departments, boards and commissions, and the public. All of these activities are recorded in the Budget Committee minutes

Second, the focus on this Budget Committee for the funding it recommended was the carrying out of the Charter mandates of Article VII, Section 703 2.) and 3.) to consider the ability of the town to support the level of service recommended, and to balance the value of the proposed goods and services with their cost in taxes. Ever present in the deliberations of this Budget Committee was an awareness that the taxpayers have spoken for lower taxes. And, in response, the Budget Committee recommended a 0.5% tax levy increase which represents a slight tax rate decrease.

The Budget Committee plays an important role in the Financial Town Referendum process which is working to balance the needs of the town with the taxpayers’ voices. Their voices did control the government as pencils were sharpened.

Nancy L. Driggs,

Member of the Tiverton Budget Committee, candidate for the Charter Review Commission.

Comments

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CM Bradshaw II

The statement ‘you’d have to be stupid to see that’ reverses the usual statement: ‘you’d have to be stupid not to see that’ is aimed in the opposite direction. There are two results that can be observed from this reversal in the context of the debate surrounding the budget process:

1. You’d have to be stupid to see democracy in this budget process; a word like ‘democracy’ is used for nothing save to aggrandize the debate regarding the budget process.

2. You’d have to be stupid to see alternatives to this budget process; in order to control the debate regarding the budget process there is a general tendency to belittle the proposal of alternatives.

Our problem today is best illustrated by such a reversal: ‘you’d be stupid to see that’ is the general reaction to the proposal of alternatives to the budget process. What do I mean by this? The idea can be expressed via a joke.

Radio Yerevan jokes are jokes that parody a radio question and answer show where listeners can ask whatever they want, but Radio Yerevan answers with whatever it wants. Typically, the subjects of these jokes are politics, economics, etc., and the answer is ambiguous. For example,

Question: “Is it true that John from Tiverton won a car in the lottery?”

Answer: “In principle, yes. But first it was not John, but Jerry; second, the winner is not from Tiverton, but Fall River; third, it was not a car, but a bicycle; and fourth he didn’t win it, but rather it was stolen from him.”

We should apply this joke to the debate surrounding the budget process.

Question: “Is it true that in a display of democratic unity the people of Tiverton are participating in the decision-making processes of the town?”

Answer: “In principle, yes. But first it is not the people of Tiverton, but a select few who embody a Tiverton out-of-touch with ordinary people; second, the politics that gives strength to proponents and opponents of the budget process is not democratic, but autocratic.”

Of course proponents and opponents of the budget process are not the same; the difference between them is obvious. Nonetheless, the choice between the two positions is not a “real” choice in the democratic sense and it is enough to focus on the background of each position to see why. Yes, those opposing the budget process may ‘paint the Budget Committee process as distorted’ however, such opposition addresses the dissatisfaction of ordinary people, albeit in a mystifying way. In contrast, the proponents of the budget process present themselves as democratic however, the politics they stand for is the main cause of the dissatisfaction of ordinary people with things like the budget process.

As a simple experiment, attempt to point out the limitations of either position and the hypothesis is that the reproach to you will be, ‘you’d be stupid to see that (limitation)’. The conclusion: the obscenity of our situation is breathtaking, and you’d be stupid not to see that.

Friday, June 16 | Report this
tubby barton

These TCC spin doctors are among some of the wealthiest in the community. They repeatedly try to hide behind their flimsy arguments of implementing the "peoples will" when they actively fight majority rule at every turn (see their latest efforts to keep an alternative budget from the people last month as an example) like making any changes to the charter that doesn't fit their extremist agenda. Yes, I mean you Jeff, Justin and Nancy.

Their hypocrisy is particularly evident when you ask them to support a properly tax exemption for the most at-risk among us (low income and/or seniors and others on a fixed income). Watch how quickly they run when they are asked to pay their fair share. The at-risk are viewed by them as political pawns to be used for them and their agenda. It's never really about the community with them, it's always about themselves. We can do better than that.

Friday, June 16 | Report this
joe sousa

Tax increases every 365 days hurt senior citizens and working families. The FTR is truly the best process to keep taxes in check.

Saturday, June 17 | Report this
Justin La Croix

Hi Tubby Barton,

I'm a married father of four young children all under the age of 4. I am also the sole income source for my growing family and while I am wealthy in blessings of having a happy/healthy camily, I am far from wealthy monetarily. I work 40+ hours a week on 3rd shift to make ends meet. One thing that hits our family hard is large tax levys...the decisions made affect whether a bill is paid or overtime (if allowed) is needed to offset reckless increases.

I am also a candidate for the charter review...not everyone is wealthy and connected as you've stated in your above comment.

You can find me on Facebook if you ever want to chat or meet up for coffee.

Tuesday, June 20 | Report this
Justin La Croix

*family not camily! Sorry! Mobile posts are tricky sometimes.

Tuesday, June 20 | Report this
tubby barton

Justin, I urge you to do your own research and not blindly rely on the "research" provided by professional propagandist Katz and friends. You would be embarrassed if you knew what they are calling "reckless increases".

Tuesday, June 20 | Report this

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