A Sakonnet Times article (that doesn’t appear to be online) reports on a meeting of “all elected town and school officials and some top administrators” in Tiverton to discuss budget woes. (A van breakdown prevented me from getting there.) Speaking to the reduction in state aid, Town Administrator James Goncalo states, “The municipal side cut is at least $600,000, so we’re looking at ways to cut $100,000 per month.”
That looks like an insurmountable number, but in context of monthly spending on the municipal side of town government of about $1,370,000, we’re talking roughly 7%. For some additional perspective, the town spends over a quarter-million dollars per month on debt service alone.
What caught my eye in the article, however, was the closing quotation from this paragraph:
“The school department is limited in what it can do to cut its budget,” said Mr. Rearick. A mandatory minimum retirement age of 59, and other pension and health benefit recommendations affecting retirees, could precipitate the departure of numbers of town and educational employees prior to April 1 — “people walking out the door April 1st. They just leave,” said Mr. Rearick.
Clearly, such folks would be making a financial decision as employees of the town. That’s fine; everybody should do what they believe to be best. What it serves to emphasize, though, is that those who govern the town should feel free to make rational financial decisions, as well, behaving above all as employers acting in the interests of their constituents.