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Letter: In support of 18-month budget

To the editor,

I am voting “No” on Article 9 which seeks to rescind the warrant article passed last year to convert to a July to June fiscal year.

We all agreed last year that a July-June fiscal year would make the budget process more efficient and predictable. It would align us with both the state and school district fiscal years. The only thing that has changed is that we now all realize that the 18 month budget meant we would be paying 18 months of town taxes (...or an extra 10 percent) over a 12-month period. I confess that I didn’t really analyze the implications well enough last year, or I would have said something. I still would have voted for it.

It is a fact that fixing the budget process so that the town has money in it’s coffers before it starts spending makes perfect sense.

People have said that the only expense associated with Article 9 is the cost of the additional town meetings we will need. However, that doesn’t take into account all the wasted hours of town employees and consultants to figure out the 18 month budget. I would say that wasted effort probably amounts to thousands of dollars too.

Another argument I’ve heard is that the fiscal year change is only beneficial to the town administration and is of no benefit to the taxpayers. I have to disagree. The town employees work for the taxpayers. One of the first rules of good management is to give your employees the best tools you can reasonably afford to make them more productive and efficient.

I could go on about the fact that interest rates are low right now and that every town which has made the conversion is pleased with the results and recommends it. I will simply say that the waste and inefficiency involved in turning back now concerns me much more than whether we understood all the implications when we started on this project. We were not fooled or lied to. The Budget Advisory Committee or anyone of us could have dug deeper and sounded the alarm last year. If I didn’t get it, I can understand other people not getting it either. I think people want to be mad at someone for something that we all missed last year, but this reaction is like cutting off our noses to spite our faces. It is not productive or smart.

Patricia A. Martin

Rindge

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