Just a reminder: Monday, April 23 at 7:30 p.m. at , the town's Board of Finance will present its budget to town residents.
At that meeting, the Board of Finance will present a budget that includes a 3.8 percent increase in the town budget to $21,217,817 for 2012-2013, and a .76 percent increase in the school budget to $50,658,826. The Board of Finance made its proposal after a series of budget workshops. The combined town and school budgets would increase 1.63 percent, or $1,155,605 to $71,876,644 under the Board of Finance recommended budget.
Or, just check out the proposed budget, which is posted with this article. Surely you have something to say about something in it. Too much? Not enough? Should we be doing something else with the town's money? Or did town officials get it right?
At the budget hearing Monday, town residents are welcome to attend, ask questions, and voice their opinion.
"We can still change the budget on Monday or Tuesday," said Board of Finance Chairman Jennifer Tung. "We will make changes only if the public shows a strong support requesting changes at the hearing. That is why we have a hearing prior to referendum, to allow the property owners an opportunity to tell the Board where we should make changes, if any are desired."
If you know Jennifer, you know she means that sincerely.
And why do I care? Because I think the more that people inform themselves about the details of how this town works, the better off the town will be. We're blessed to have many wonderful assets and services in this town, and many dedicated volunteers and employees to help steward those assets and services, but the other part of the equation includes the town's taxpayers. Even if people are happy with what is in the budget, maybe this is a good time to say thank you to the people who volunteer their time to create these budgets.
Of course, we'll all have another chance to have our say on May 15, when the budget referendum is currently scheduled. But Monday is your last chance to have your say before the budget is finalized for that referendum.
Here's what the Participatory Democracy Project has to say about why it's important for citizens to get involved in government, particularly when it comes to budgeting:
Participatory budgeting consists of a process of democratic deliberation and decision-making, in which ordinary citizens decide how to allocate part of a public budget – for instance, through a series of local assemblies and meetings in the context of a municipality. Studies have suggested that participatory budgeting can lead to more equitable public spending, higher quality of life, increased satisfaction of basic needs, greater government transparency and accountability, increased levels of public participation (especially by marginalized residents), and democratic and citizenship learning.
The project, based at Brown University, advocates for participatory democracy as a way to fight poverty worldwide. Fortunately, we don't have a huge problem with that here in town, although there are many here who are struggling in these difficult economic times. And some of those people are having a hard time paying their taxes, so we don't want to just add to the budget in a way that will increase that burden. That's just one of the many issues this town has to address, and we only have so much money to do that.
So, here's your chance to show up, listen, and, if you're so inclined, have your say.