Monday, May 11, 2015

Our Reason Coexists with Our Insanity

I wrote this a year and four days ago. Either I'm stunningly prescient or we are numbingly predictable. I have a pretty good idea which one (and, I suspect, so, too, do you). And yet the movie remains the same, sometimes the cast changes, but only sometimes.
Monday evening (tonight) at 6:30 we in Norwich have a second bite of the proverbial apple at the Second Public Hearing on the (Interim) City Manager's proposed budget.

In a world where silence is interpreted to mean consent, I cannot encourage you strongly enough to use this forum to make your voice heard because (and I'm amazed how often we lose sight of it) this is our city.

The budget creation process is very straight-forward and transparent, if you're willing to look at it. Part of our unhappiness as we struggle to understand the results of a long process I fear is that we want to cut to the chase and have no patience for prologue or explanations. We all want to go to heaven but nobody wants to die. I'm pretty sure that's not how it works.

The professionals who manage our municipal departments made their cases for funding to the City Manager last fall and into the winter with crunch time in the early Spring.

The City Manager, in turn, evaluated the requests and reviewed past performance and results in crafting his proposed budget which he presented to his bosses, the City Council, the men and women we each elected to the City Council. There's not a one of them who doesn't pay taxes for the same goods and services we all expect and receive from the city in which we live.

No one likes their taxes to be increased, by any amount, at any time or for any reason. You know both the City Manager and City Council are keenly aware of this already but by all means go ahead and remind them of that again on tonight if you're so inclined. You're entitled to tell them how and why (and where if we're being technical) you agree and/or disagree with the expenditures and appropriations they are considering.

As Sister Mary Jean used to tell us in math class, "show your work." If you have a proposal or an alternative for a budget item, show how you're paying for it and be specific and realistic. Measure (at least) twice before cutting once-that's what they used to say in New York's Garment District-good watchwords for those creating municipal budgets.

Speaking of which, copies of the budget are available on line and also in the Otis Library (and you thought all they had were book sales?). Despite news reports nationally of an economic upturn, around here these remain hard times in the land of plenty. Someday, we may come to regard these as the best of times, but not today and probably not on a future Monday real soon when the City Council adopts a budget.
-bill kenny

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