Saturday, June 2, 2012

More On Article 4

While this post deals with Article 4 on the warrant of the Sturbridge Town Meeting, it really applies to any town or city which is dealing with rising tax rates. As I have written before, I beleive that changing the culture of spending and taxing begins at the local level and works its way up. Fiscal responsibility starts here.

Article 4 is a citizens petition asking that the voters vote to keep the town's budget at the same level as it was this year. The town's Finance Committee is asking that it be raised 4.6% over this years. They are proud of the fact that it only raising that much and it is still under the amount they COULD raise it. It also doesn't seem like much until you realize that our taxes here in Sturbridge have risen from $11.32 to $17.63 in FOUR YEARS. This works out to 56% in that time. 
Let me ask two questions:
  • Has your paycheck risen 56% in four years? 
  • Has the value of your house risen 56% in four years?
I would say probably not. 

The Finance Committee has produce a "nightmare" budget which they claim will be needed in order to meet this proposed budget if Article 4 passes. As to be expected this budget claims that all the usual suspects will have to be "cut". Employees will have to be laid off. The Senior Center will have to be closed. We won't be able to give raises and the quality of our town employees, especially those in management will be lowered as there will be a mass exodus of people going to greened pastures. This is nonsense.

The Town Administrator claims that there was no thought behind this warrant article, which is not so. What the Town Administrator and the elite in the Finance Committee tend to overlook is that there truly are others in this town beside them who really do care about Sturbridge, and they  want to be able to afford to live here. And these people also understand that the answer to every problem is not to spend more money and raise taxes.

There are places in which the budget could be cut with out using a "blunderbuss" or a machete or even an ax.   Will it take time? Will it be difficult? Yes and yes, but it can be done. 

So there are two things I want to leave you with:
  • We need to end the cycle of tax and spend, not only in Sturbridge, but in Massachusetts and the United States as well, and this is a good place to start. 
  • More importantly, you, yes you, need to show up at the Town Meeting on Monday, June 4 at 7:00 PM at Tantasqua and vote. I would say vote "Yes" on Article 4, but more importantly that that is ATTEND and VOTE. If you don't attend the meeting, then don't complain, either that your taxes are too high or that your favorite program had it's budget cut. 
It can be argued that the Town Meeting is the only place where you can really make a difference, while this isn't entirely true, it is the main place you can make a difference. 

And for my non-Sturbridge readers, this holds true for you as well. We all bitch about our taxes, we all bitch about what we pay for this or that program, well this is the place to start to make a difference. Maybe my head is in the clouds but I truly beleive that if we start the "Hope and Change" thing at the lowest level, it will find it's way up the ladder to where we can really make a difference. 


  1. from Don Miller

    well said, Paul.
    The use of scare tactics by the FinCom, Town Administrator, some members of the BOS is deplorable, but, unfortunately, effective - based on what I have heard the past week or so. I am anxious to see who and how many attend the meeting.

  2. Trickle up stupidity has gotten us to our 16 trillion debt.

  3. I really hope the residents of the town are smart enough to not fall for the rhetoric of the TA and FINCOM. We are all capable of independent thought. lets just hope we all use it, and not just take what the town officials as gospel. Even if article 4 does not pass we could cut some serious fat out of the budget. Dont be afraid to place holds on line items. I would like to argue against the new cruisers and 2000 dollars for a lazer gun for speed enforcement. However, in this small town where i have to drive past an officers house every morning i am nervous that i would be targeted. At no time in the past 6 months has there been any less than 5 cruisers at the public safety office. Do they really need more? Police, Fire and the school are the third rails that are never approached for cuts. They all need cutting, severe cutting. I could live with 2 fewer cops and firemen. How bout controlling the OT with outsourced volunteer firemen. Same could be done with police. All the local towns that have part time forces have people that would love to pick up some extra shifts. This needs to be addressed with the new CBA's.

    1. There are places which could be cut. For too long we have gone with the "What would be nice to have, rather than what we really need" approach.

      This kind of thinking can and does get us into trouble. For example when I was on the Fire Department we always thought it would be nice to have paramedics. And it is, but now there has to be one on every shift by state law, therefore driving up costs.

      It is nice to have ball fields and bike trails, etc, but someone has to take care of them, these are the things which raise the budget.


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