To the Editor:

It was painful for me to sit through Friday's Sherman town budget meeting and listen to ill-explained, oversimplified rationale to justify the increase in the selectmen's proposed budget.

Our country is in the infant stages of crawling out of one of our history's worst economic, self-imposed debacles. Regardless of any economic climate, that behavior should never be repeated.

All budgets should be prepared with vigilance, concern for those currently experiencing severe economic hardship, and in a spirit of give and take.

Whatever happened to the concept of compromise?

The Board of Education's budget was presented in a factual, articulate manner.

The modest increases were clearly justified and the cuts do not appear to be at the expense of our children or staff.

Job well done; you have my support.

The Board of Selectmen's budget, in my opinion, cannot receive the same kudos.

Although the 3.571 percent increase may seem reasonable to some, the selectmen certainly did not mirror the vigilance demonstrated by the Board of Ed.

It should be no secret many families in Sherman are hurting financially each and every day. Recently, there were some brave souls who publicly acknowledged concern for their current financial plight when the library grant was voted upon.

It passed; this budget should not.

Much of the increase in the selectmen's budget is as yet unjustified. The argument that a new grant writer position will pay for itself is flawed -- previous holders of the office of first selectman have done grant writings themselves.

Furthermore, there is no doubt Mr. Cope, as he often publicly stated during his campaign, is quite capable of writing grants.

I believed you, Clay. Why have you changed your mind; what has changed?

Through Mr. Cope's own admission, we really do not need to create this new grant writer position.

The additional staffing hours for the business associate should be revisited with a finer red pencil. One of the stated reasons for Mr. Cope's request is to provide coverage when an employee is out sick or on vacation.

Ever consider cross-training current staff? Should taxpayers foot the bill for a second, unnecessary increase in staff hours? I don't think so.

Today, most residents who are employed are grateful to have a job, and often perform additional tasks at the same pay to replace workers who were either fired or laid off and not replaced. The request to increase the hours of this position should be denied.

The senior center and social service budget should not be touched; the library request should be reduced to $90,000 and the public works request could easily be shuffled into the capital, nonrecurring reserve fund.

Modifications to the proposed budget in these four areas (grant writer, business administrator, library and public works) would be a responsible beginning toward achieving a budget increase not to exceed an acceptable 2.0 to 2.25 percent.

As long as the selectmen's budget continues to include what is beyond justification, and to be specific this newly created grant writer position and the increased business associate hours, it will not receive my support.

Ann Chiaramonte