Calls for an end to New Milford's 'political games'
Published 6:45 pm, Wednesday, April 14, 2010
To the Editor:
I am deeply saddened, dismayed and downright angry regarding this year's budget proceedings.
It has been a difficult financial year for many people and businesses, and we are all doing our best to stay afloat. Many have accepted wage freezes, benefit cuts and other concessions in order for their place of business to remain operational. Employees are working together to find creative solutions to financial difficulties.
I expected the town to do the same. Instead, I have seen politics at its worst.
The Board of Education submitted an increase of $1.8 million to its yearly budget. In February, the mayor reviewed the budgets and recommended reducing the Board of Education's increase by $800,000.
Instead of taking the time to review and re-work the budget, the Board of Education retorted: "The board is eager to work with the Town Council and the Board of Finance in a spirit of collaboration," said school board Chairman Wendy Faulenbach. "However, there is nothing in the charter that authorizes the board to pull back the budget and retool it once we have fulfilled our budget obligation.'' (News-Times, February 24, 2010).
The Board of Education then presented its original budget to the Town Council in mid-March, whereupon the Town Council voted to reduce it back to a zero increase. The Board of Finance was due April 7 to fulfill its vital role in the budget process, but failed miserably and could not make a quorum.
Many residents have attended meetings regarding the budget, especially in light of the Town Council's decision. Everyone has a different opinion but the care and commitment to the town is always present.
What angers me most is the town officials have not behaved with the same level of care. As we have now reached what I consider to be the lowest point in this process, I am pleading with all town officials and employees to work together and stop the politics.
To the Board of Education and Town Council: Work together to find the solution. Collaborate, combine purchasing, consolidate services -- and develop a workable, affordable budget. Ask staff for their ideas and support.
To the New Milford school district unions: Come to the bargaining table and discuss cost-saving adjustments to the current contracts. The raises for administrators, teachers, nurses, secretarial support and custodial/maintenance staff would total just over $1.27 million dollars for 2010-2011 -- an average increase of 4.24 percent. Let's work together to keep class sizes small, and save the teachers.
To the Board of Finance: Become more active in the budget process. Attend Board of Education and Town Council meetings related to the budget.
Above all, do not disrespect the townspeople by not attending a scheduled meeting. If you are unable to attend a meeting, notify the chairman prior to that meeting -- to give the chairman an opportunity to reschedule.
Non-attendance without prior notification is inexcusable.
It is time for the political games to end.