Received wisdom in this age of politics and polemics holds that we should do unto others before they do unto us: define opponents in the worst possible light before they can define themselves, ignore facts when possible, and make them up when necessary. Above all, never listen to anyone who might hold a contrary view.
This is the time during budget season when the “Yes at any cost” party pulls out all the stops to pass a budget on the first try. Not a difficult task considering their videos, articles, letters and “guidance” are filled with the good things that any $100 million budget would be chock full of.
Stand for an hour or two in the middle of the Upper or Lower Paugussett State Forest with a petition in hand and see how many signatures you can get for restoring the $2 million cut from funds for state parks and forests in Governor Dannel P. Malloy’s budget proposal. Better take your binoculars as well and do a little birdwatching to pass the time before you head home with your empty sheet of paper.
At this late stage of the education budget review process, everyone is focused on the cost of transportation, gasoline, heating oil, medical plan savings, etc. Long forgotten by the Superintendent and the BOE is the $2.6M of resources requested by school principals that were denied in January.
On March 2, the Board of Finance continued its review of local budget requests for the 2015-16 fiscal cycle, examining dozens of details in the Board of Education’s $72,253,488 proposal representing a 1.27 percent hike over the current year.
But less than two days later, the district adjusted its budget request to $71,915,679, representing a 0.8 percent increase, because of an action to reduce district contributions to the town’s self-insured employee health plan.
The work of Newtown’s finance authorities is axiomatic: seek economy in the increasingly expensive enterprise of running a town. And in watching the early work of the Board of Finance and the Finance Department impacting the next budget cycle, some actual axioms come to mind. Waste not want not. A penny saved is a penny earned. Less is more. For some residents who may, for example, suffer a bone-jarring commute along some of the town’s more pothole-pocked byways twice a day, the economic zeal of budgetmakers may seem more like parsimony.