Report of the Finance Committee
As usual the job of the Finance Committee has been very challenging. Each year as the committee reorganizes after the annual town meeting, relief is felt that another budget has been balanced, passed, and on its way for our desperately needed local services.
It is the role of the committee to take all requests from departments and forge a balanced budget recommendation to be presented to the townspeople for approval. This is not a simple task. This past year the town was fortunate to have a diverse membership on the committee. Each and every request made to the town was required to have background information. If a request did not provide such information, common sense dictated that the request was too small or insignificant to spend precious time on. This allowed us to concentrate on the requests that provided the information on how important they were to the town, such as how they would improve the quality of life, provide emergency services, or upgrade equipment, for example.
Along with this new procedure came the responsibilities to investigate all information, meet with each department head to discuss the state of their department, and search out additional facts and figures when questions arose from discussions.
Because of the number of budget requests that we received this past year, the committee collectively spent thousands of hours meeting, investigating, and educating ourselves on the entire budget. Many painful decisions had to be made in the order of need versus want.
It is paramount that the Finance Committee function independently and away from all other boards and departments so as to have an untainted view of all municipal operations. This must never be compromised, for if it is, special interests will slowly creep into the decision-making process, and the committee would never be able to make an unbiased recommendation to the town. This is one if the reason that we are appointed not elected; and this is why a person who must always remain neutral appoints us: the Town Moderator.
I am not including numbers or graphs in this report instead I will refer you to the data reported by the Board of Assessors as to how we spend our tax dollars by percentage.
In closing, I would like to explain why the Finance Committee did not support the $30,000.00 article for ambulance coverage or the article for trash pick-up. The article on day coverage for the ambulance had no greater supporters than the members of the Finance Committee. We understand that we too may need help and want the ambulance and crew to be available 24 hours a day. But, in the budget request, when we asked how the money was going to be spent, nobody could tell us, nobody knew; there was no plan. The question at this point is how can we recommend an article that has zero information. As far as trash pick-up, there was absolutely no money available in the budget to fund it. This is why the Board of Health had to amend their article on the town meeting floor and fund it out of the stabilization fund, a procedure that they could do and we could not.
The Finance Committee deeply thanks all of those people who assisted us in our budget process.
Charles C. Morey, Chairman
Deborah A. Vogt, Secretary
Christopher C. Nash
Peter S. Rourke