I admired the measured enthusiasm of the Bulletin’s lead editorial last Wednesday in assessing City Manager Salomone’s budget presentation last Monday night, “Optimistic City Budget on shaky footing.”
We have had these discussions on city budgets for just about all the years I’ve lived here (I am not suggesting cause and effect) and it’s good to have a reminder that in life (and budgets) things change. And often change again.
To tell you the truth I wouldn’t have been too surprised if the presentation had been printed in Jell-O because of all the unknowns and variables.
As I offered in this space years ago, the City Manager’s proposal is a process to which each of us is not only invited but encouraged to join and a discussion we, the residents and citizens of Norwich, will have with one another, with our municipal department heads and our elected officials.
Together we’ll craft a document by which we define our expectations for the quality and quantity of our municipal services, from public education and public safety to trash removal and road resurfacing and everything in between, as well as what we are willing to pay for these goods and services.
Last Monday night wasn't a preview or a rehearsal, but a combination of both with elements of neither.
Everything starts somewhere and last Monday’s presentation by Mr. Salomone was intended to be that start. We need everyone’s help so be ready. And if you haven’t yet, you should go to the city’s website, because that’s where you can grab a map so to speak of where we’re heading.
The City Manager’s proposed budget is there and it reflects an enormous amount of effort, planning, and thought. You really should find the time to read it to appreciate what its creation requires in terms of time and talent.
Some department budget hearings have already happened, to include the Board of Education, whose presentation, and that of Norwich Public Utilities are also on the website.
There are more department hearings tomorrow night, starting at six followed at 7:30 by the first public hearing by the City Council. Reading ahead is always a great way to become informed and engaged so I’m grateful so much and many of the budget components are online but while they tell us what things cost, only we can decide what they are worth.
So if you’re intending to comment on the record and want our neighbors who are the City Council to listen and consider your words, please come prepared to speak but also be willing to listen to others when they speak because that's how reasonable people develop solutions, not through anger but agreement and not naming scapegoats but offering solutions. It’s our turn to weigh and measure.
Our city budget is a compact we make with one another, and for one another, that began with those who founded Norwich and now stretches to our children and their children.