Taxes, taxes, taxes...that begins the preamble to the , but unfortunately limiting the size of a tax increase requires a significant amount of will more than anything else.
I read with great interest representative this week in which she expressed her frustration over the . As I believe she knows, I have great respect and admiration for her, because I know how hard she works. She does her homework, and she is among the faithful at the Board of Finance meetings, but I believe that in this case she has missed the mark. There are two sides to every argument, and in this case she seems to be among those who can see only their side.
If you take the position going into the budget proceedings that there are no areas in which you can cut back, no town services that you would consider doing without, by extension you are also taking the position that you can go to the well of taxpayer dollars as many times as you feel is necessary. If that is your starting point, then you are neutral in so as far as proposing budget cuts at a line item level. That is how Representative Stamler and others prefer the budget debate be framed.
If, however, you believe that there must be a limit to which you can place burdens upon tax payers. If you believe that the trajectory our town’s budget increases must be checked, and you believe that department heads are far better qualified than any member of the RTM to identify activities within their own departments which are no longer cost effective, then you also understand that proposing budget adjustments at a department level and allowing department heads to then manage to those adjustments is the more reasonable approach.
That was the tack which the majority party members had intended to take. That was the approach which was initially blessed by the town attorney and subsequently reversed. Whether intentionally obstructionist or not, everyone who has gone through budget proceedings in the past understands that being forced to cut at a line item level is a protracted exercise in micro management. Furthermore, there is no basis for the administration’s insistence that town legislators be made to do so. In this case the Town Charter is the final arbitrator and the Town Charter is silent on this point.
If it was important enough that budget adjustments be made at line item level by town bodies it would have been spelled out as such in the Town Charter. In point of fact, it is not. The manner in which the budget proceeding ultimately played out was in reaction to the administration’s insistence on this point.
Let us recognize that when it comes to the town budget there are clearly philosophical differences upon which well intentioned people on either side of the argument will agree to disagree. This is true of any argument, but let us not treat this as something more than a disagreement. We cannot cry "foul" simply because someone on the other side of an argument chooses not to frame that argument in the terms which we might prefer.
RTM District 8