Letter: Tiverton Budget Committee plays key role in FTR process
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.