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Our Little Town

The Board of Education budget hearings at Polson bring out the young, the old and lots of opinions.

Madison....it's our little town, not so much size as spirit. A town filled with folks who wave each other through intersections with a friendly nod or a wave. Drive by the firehouse at any time of day and you may see firemen outside who'll wave hello. Teachers have taught whole families and some of their children.

Just as Bob Dylan sang, "Times they are a-changin'" As a newcomer of almost 15 years, I've seen lots of change myself. Where there were horse pastures, there are McMansions. Intersections have stop lights where there were none. Academy School has closed. The Surf Club has a plastic playground. The library has plastic library cards. Starbucks is here and our crosswalks have lights and blonking sounds. 

Madison is home. We like the people...all generations...through our friends and neighbors, church, schools, sports and volunteering...."our" little town and they're the reason we're here. The Surf Club too.

Tonight I saw lots of familiar faces from town at Polson Middle School for the Board of Education 2012-13 Budget Meeting. It's awesome to hear townspeople speak so passionately about our town. Newcomers, old timers, teachers, volunteers, politicians, moms, dads, grandparents, kids....all wanting the best for our community and myriad opinions.

Spending money wisely, saving for the future, utilizing what we have to satisfy a multitude of needs...like a family budget in a bad economy, we do our best to make a dollar dance. Always and forever, town budget meetings draw the same crowds....senior citizens with grown children, high taxes and fixed incomes...young parents with new mortgages and kids starting school...teachers with tight classrooms and kids of their own....on and on.

The public are invited to the microphone. Two minutes. Comments on the budget. All kinds. Succinct. Businesslike. Drone. Lecture. Whine. Bark. The drone always takes too much time....six minutes, losing attention of even supporters. Heads nod, hands clap and eyes roll as individuals step away from the microphone.

Listen...listen...listen...we all listen. I respect the senior citizens...and empathize...after all, I had parents.  I relate to the moms and dads who want the best for their kids....just as the generations before us. Who does like taxes going up? Old or young?  I hear grandparents who amaze me by their loving support of the future generations. I hear proud people speak of the place they chose to call home. I commend all who stood to speak.

Every budget meeting brings out the young and the old...and the in between. I may fit into the in between category these days. It's a scary world....for all of us. We all have concerns about the economy and the future and our parents and our children. Wouldn't it be nice if we could look out for each other and find a way to make it all work for the good? Without fear? Without anger? Seriously. 

 

This post is contributed by a community member. The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Patch Media Corporation. Everyone is welcome to submit a post to Patch. If you'd like to post a blog, go here to get started.

WarriorKevin February 20, 2012 at 07:03 PM
There is a fundamental issue that makes debate and empathy difficult. The overwhelming financial burden for all these programs falls on just a few taxpayers around the shoreline. Regular revaluations has shifted more and more of that burden to a relatively few properties on and near the shoreline. So, you have lots of parents who don't really pay for programs who are. of course, happy to keep increasing the cost of programs. Every time a shoreline taxpayers' taxes go up $5,000 -$7,000, other taxpayers have their taxes actually go down. We have taxation without representation and spending advocacy by those who don't pay for the spending --indeed, who would be outraged and incensed if their taxes increased as they do on the shoreline. Add to that the traditional issues of envy and resentment against the hardest working most successful people and you have a volatile mix. Ironically, those who take the most and freeload the most are angry and resntful of those who are actually paying to support the town. If the parents and other advocates of increased spending actually bore the majority of the burden of the tax increases, they'd be screaming like cows at slaughter, rather than screaming at hardworking people demanding that they get more of someone else's income.
Liz Neighbors February 21, 2012 at 03:33 AM
I appreciate your opinion although resentment is a luxury I can't afford. People are working very hard these days, whether one high paying job, three lesser paying or multiple incomes. I think the parents who advocate for schools consider the tax consequences and each generation of parents wants the best for their children. Whether rich or poor, people place values on different things. "Haves and Have Nots" will always be but I don't think we can judge people's values based on the size and location of homes. Ask Warren Buffet.
Pem McNerney (Editor) February 21, 2012 at 01:02 PM
Taxation without representation? I'm not understanding your point there. You can go to a budget hearing and state your opinion. You can go to the referendum and vote no on the budget. You can participate in the town committees, Republican and Democrat, that play a huge role in picking our elected officials here in town because many people don't bother to participate in local elections. You can vote against officials you don't like at election time. All of these meetings and events are published not only on the front of Patch, every day, in the Madison town calendar that stays pinned to the front page, but also on the town website. It is published prominently because a participatory Democracy is no good if people don't participate. If you don't like the taxes you pay on that big house by the water, challenge your assessment. If your neighbors agree, organize them and seek structural change. If there is a structural problem with the way the town assesses properties, I'd love to write about it, so let me know the specifics of your concern. If someone is envious and resentful of people who live in small houses, they should sell that big house and buy a smaller one inland. They'll find themselves living next to hardworking, successful people, many of whom are concerned about spending and maintaining the quality of the town's programs.
West and East Wharf! February 21, 2012 at 07:35 PM
Did anyone else notice that the repair of West Wharf and East Wharf are not in the budget?
Pem McNerney (Editor) February 21, 2012 at 11:01 PM
WEEW: The overall estimate of the cost of Irene repairs is $1.5 to 2.0 million; the town's plan is to take the funds from special appropriations from the fund balance (mostly from last year's surplus), with 75% reimbursement from FEMA after the fact. In terms of timing, first will be repairs to Middle Beach Road which the town hopes to finish this spring. Second will be Surf Club sea wall and sand dunes, again, town hopes to do this, this spring. Third will be the stone jetties at East Wharf and West Wharf. At this point, the town thinks they will probably not be open this summer.
Janet March 03, 2012 at 01:52 PM
I agree with Kevin. I have a "small" house not ON the water but near enough to pay a dear premium in land assessment. I do feel that we have been unfairly hit with the latest assessment... and we can't sell our homes for the price we paid. And I am not against quality of education, I am against stupid spending, when enrollment declines are dictating that our officials get more creative and start looking at finding some real efficiencies. They are not doing this...
Janet March 03, 2012 at 01:59 PM
I wonder if folks would be so supportive of our education budget increases if they were assessed by how many kids they have in the school system, vs. how close they live to the beach.

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