Urge finance leaders 'put politics aside'
Published 6:33 pm, Tuesday, July 3, 2012
To The Editor:
We are two longtime residents of Bridgewater and, in terms of national politics, we could not be more different -- one a dedicated Democrat and the other a tea party Republican.
However, we agree, in terms of Bridgewater politics, we speak with one voice.
The only issue at the recent annual town meeting was the BOF's proposed increase in salary, from $5,000 for the previous treasurer, to $11,800 for Mr. Caruso, the new treasurer.
We attended the town meeting May 26, along with nearly 100 other townspeople and officials who debated that salary increase. The final vote was 59 against and 33 in favor of the salary hike for the treasurer.
This town meeting and this vote are the very foundation of democracy -- public debate and majority rule.
Yet the BOF chairwoman and vice chairman think differently. They disregard and belittle both the debate and the vote, claiming "several residents with advance notice of an organized attempt to alter the budget" made the motion at the town meeting.
The facts: All residents are given advance notice, and have an absolute legal right to vote to alter the budget.
It is "bad precedent ... to alter the salary of ... elected officials based on whether or not the office holder is making other officials happy or not."
The facts: The town meeting debate we heard was whether the treasurer deserved a raise in salary of more than 100 percent, not whether any official was happy or unhappy.
BOF members didn't know what salary the treasurer collected. Really? The budget is their primary responsibility.
So, after Mrs. Hawley and Mr. Reed have stated their case, where do Bridgewater residents stand?
The BOF voted, 4-2, on the same day the Hawley/Reed letter is dated, to ignore the majority vote at the town meeting.
The treasurer has received a raise of more than 100 percent.
The treasurer has filed a lawsuit against the town of Bridgewater for slightly less than $40,000 in both salary and attorneys' fees.
That doesn't sound like Bridgewater is better off on the course Mrs. Hawley and Mr. Reed have charted. We urge them to put personal politics and ambitions aside and put Bridgewater first.
We hope Bridgewater residents agree.