Pulling on the Hands Reaching Out
We just received a call from Tiverton Schools Superintendent William Rearick (or, more likely, a recording) encouraging us, as parents in the town, to attend tomorrow night’s financial town meeting in order to vote for the 11% increase in taxes so that the district won’t have to tighten its belt anymore. A related Projo article today makes me wonder how many similar phone calls our town officials are making this evening:
The resumption of the annual Financial Town Meeting tomorrow night was to be largely a procedural affair, leading to yet another recess.
But town officials aren’t so sure about that anymore.
They say they have concerns that a relatively small number of voters could move forward with budget cuts deep enough to fundamentally alter the character of the town — without a word from those who want to maintain the current level of municipal services. …
Town Council president Louise Durfee and council member Brian Medeiros urged those who want to maintain existing services to turn out for the resumption of the Financial Town Meeting tomorrow night at 7 in the high school gymnasium.
Medeiros predicted that those who want to limit the tax increase will take action to finalize budget cuts tomorrow.
“I hope enough people show up so that the Town Council gets a sense of whether [last week’s] vote reflects the majority will of the town,” Medeiros said.
“Does a majority want services to continue at a reasonable level, or do they want to take a meat cleaver” to the budget, he asked.
Durfee said she was concerned last Wednesday that she hadn’t heard the voices of people “who enjoy summer recreation, a good education, the need for a rescue service and a police department.”
Me, I’m in a meat cleaver state of mind. For one thing, in part to protect them from work-to-ruling teachers, and the related constriction of services and opportunities on offer in the public schools, I’ll be pulling my children from the school system, so the tax money therein invested will merely be tacked on fruitlessly to the expense of the education that they’ll actually be receiving. Beyond that, I’m not sure what services I’m supposed to credit the town with providing. The roads en route to my neighborhood are poor. The storefronts are increasingly empty. I don’t have sewer service. My water pressure is horrid (even though my section of town pays more for water than does the wealthier side of town). The “free” garbage pickup has cost me an annual garbage can, and I receive a suspicious chastisement every time I try to bring home-renovation refuse directly to the landfill.
Mind you, I’m not complaining so much as explaining my reason for hope that drawing the line on tax increases will force some much-needed reflection among those in government and otherwise who — for whatever reason — have a different understanding of the cost-benefit balance of town services.