The budget debacle

There’s something seriously wrong if taxpayers have gunned two straight budgets by wide margins.

So what is it?

One could argue that the problem is that town leaders are simply trying to spend more money than residents are willing to support. This clearly has some truth to it, but it’s simplistic.

Another alternative is that people are struggling financially and, given the choice, are going to try to lower what bills they can. Again, there’s truth in that. None of us want to pay more, particularly when the cost of everything seems to be rising a whole lot faster than paychecks.

But I think the real reason that the budgets are getting clobbered is that we generally don’t feel as if we are getting the information we need before we agree to pay so much more. Sure, the town puts budget information online, but it’s presented in a way that only an accountant could love. And nowhere do we get simple data on the questions people are always asking – how much do employees make? What kind of health care do they get and how much do they pay? What kind of pensions are we handing out and how much does that cost each year? And on the education side, we really want to see much more, because it does seem preposterous that the charges go up so much every year while student numbers stay relatively stable. Explain that to us, please, in painstaking detail.

I’m a supporter of the schools, a backer of the budget, a yes voter to my core. But I’m also confused and upset that my neighbors have so many questions and there are so few answers. Relying on us to trust our elected leaders obviously isn’t enough to get a spending plan passed.

Give us some help, town council members. Let’s delve into the details, school board members. Make it possible for those who want to see the required spending supported to sell skeptical friends, neighbors and others.

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9 Comments

Filed under budget, education, News, Schools, town council, Town government, West Hartford

9 responses to “The budget debacle

  1. Or, looking at it another way, if people really do want to live in a low-tax-low-service town, why haven’t we elected a different town council? I mean, personally, I would rather live in a high-tax-high-service town, but I recognize that it’s reasonable to do it the other way. What isn’t reasonable is to elect a town council that says they are for a high level of services, and then blocking their budgets year after year.

    Thanks,
    -V.

  2. Cynic

    The current Council ran on a platform of fiscal responsibility and thrift. A promise they are not keeping.

  3. TruthCounts

    Cynic is right. You can fool some of the people most of the time and all of the people in West Hartford, all the time.

    Most of the people who post on here can afford the high taxes. The slate of those elected were pretty much unopposed anyway.

    We will keep paying and paying. The council knows that it can get by two referendums and then stick it to the people.

  4. WH Alum

    TruthCounts – I think there is a difference between “can afford the high taxes” and being willing to sacrifice something else personally in order to maintain our community at its high standards. I don’t consider myself a frivolous spender. I cut coupons, wait for sales, and go without as needed. Your statement is a broad generalization. One that cannot be made based simply on reading a forum comment.

  5. rob

    You are correct in that we are not being given too much information. I would be willing to bet that whatever budget they put forward would be approved with little problem if the tax paying public had confidence in the administration of the schools and, to a lesser extent, the town. We don’t. For good reason. We have been ignored, patronized, disrespected – sometimes for very good reasons, and generally taken for granted by both the town and schools.

    I believe this budget vote – and every vote to be taken each and every year going forward unless things fundamentally change, is really a vote on the trust and confidence residents have in the school board and town bureaucracy. In this case, pretty much none.

    Also, the town tries to blame the state for the shortfall but in reality the state was sending borrowed (bonds) money to the towns and the towns got used to it.

    Finally, I will gladly pay any tax required to support a school district that delivers top flight education to the WH students. My real estate agent would love it.

    WH Schools doesn’t deliver, just look at the state ranking by the test results. We are pretty much an average school district with delusions of grandeur. No wonder we’re mad and they’re defensive.

    Time to clean house.

  6. Cynic

    Bravo, Rob, well said

  7. Arnie

    I find it hard to believe that govenor was unaware of the law that allowed the pork she was so addiment about striking. Why didn’t one of her advisors clue her in. Or better yet why was she told after it was to late. Sounds like more political flim flam.

  8. I am very interested in it, could you please tell me some more imformation? Thank you!

  9. WHtax-paypaypayer

    Thanks Rob, Your comment is right on the money!

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