Another Flashlight on the Fire
And another columnist turns her attention to the odd disconnectedness of Rhode Island budgetary practices, this time Lifebeat-section writer Rita Lussier:
Not that I had time for any of this. I didn’t and I don’t. But I decided to carve out an hour or so to try to learn something while I stood there at the back of Room 35, waiting for the 1 p.m. meeting to begin. If the chatting and chuckling in the room was any indication, the only sense of urgency belonged to me and it was mostly due to the limited amount of quarters I could fish out of my purse for the parking meter.
Finally, at 1:38 by my watch, someone announced that the chairman had been attending another important meeting but was on his way. Wonder what the cost was of all those people sitting around the room? Never mind.
Not long after the announcement, the meeting began. But the first thing on the agenda was not exactly what I was expecting. The committee wasn’t talking about decreases in spending. Far from it. Neither were they discussing difficult cuts or big reductions. No. The topic to start off my very first budget meeting was borrowing. Something called tax anticipation notes. I don’t like the sound of that. Do you?
As if someone at the front of the room sensed my queasiness, he introduced the subject by explaining why we might want to borrow at a time like this by making this comparison to our personal lives.
It’s like at home when grocery day comes before payday. You hit the kids’ piggy bank.
Really? In his house maybe. Certainly not in mine.
Maybe you’ve been through it before. I know we have. You lose a job. A big freelance project you were counting on doesn’t come through. And all of a sudden your bills add up to more than your income. The clock starts tick, tick, ticking and you’ve got to come up with a plan. Think. Fast. What do you do?
Granted, I’m no expert, but what worked for us was to stop. Stop going out to eat. Stop going out to the movies. Stop taking trips here and there unless they were absolutely necessary. Stop buying Barbie dolls and video games and the latest fashion sweaters and all the other things that we really can get by without.