We are in a new year. Never mind that the number ends in an unpromising “13” that, legend has it, may bode ill.
Where did last year go? As I write this column the stock market is unnerved by the prospect that we are about to step off a fiscal cliff, red ink blazing. Although political leaders had almost a year and a half to address the issue, guess what? No compromises. And the finite debt ceiling will meet the ever-burgeoning financial indebtedness of the United States at any time now.
According to an article in the Christian Science Monitor, there are five major aspects to the present crisis.
First is what happens if we as a nation go over the fiscal cliff. This refers to the artificially created limit or cliff that was created during 2011 negotiations, the last time the debt ceiling was raised. Tax cuts expiring Dec. 31, 2012, would be history.
Second is “sequestration.” This is a fancy way of saying that $600 billion must be cut from the defense budget, and another $600 billion from domestic programs.
Third is raising the debt limit. It has been raised many, many times in the past, although in some cases only after much hand wringing. Presently the debt limit is set somewhere over $16 trillion.
Fourth is the pathway set out by a panel appointed by the president. It produced the Simpson-Bowles report. Mr. Obama said thank you but did nothing more about their recommendations that we know of.
Fifth is the possibility of a grand bargain that revises the tax structure and aims at a long-term solution.
Frankly, I have little hope for No. 5.
Turning to a more pleasant subject, what is in the cards for Weston in 2013?
We are not going over any cliffs, fiscal or otherwise. Certainly not without approval by Conservation and P&Z, and getting a second opinion from the Fire Department and EMS. The nice thing about Weston government is that it is so close to public opinion that a deaf ear is never turned. The voters wouldn’t put up with it!
Nor will the Board of Finance. I anticipate that the upcoming budget process will be austere. Based upon the mood of members of that board at a recent meeting, I expect they will particularly go over any costs correlated with school enrollment using a magnifying glass.
And could they perhaps be forced to adopt the Washington sequestration model, and make Solomonic cuts to both town and education budgets?
I am always supportive of government action that truly involves public input. Which is one reason I am hopeful the Board of Selectmen will successfully lead us through this coming winter’s storms, fiscal and otherwise, while keeping us informed as to how the financial distress of national and state governments might affect us here in Weston.
Come to think of it, that sounds like an excellent subject for discussion at the League of Women Voters of Weston’s annual Speak Up event, which will be held in early February.
Most of all, my hope for the new year is that the selectmen and the rest of town government can revitalize for this generation of Westonites the desire to work together and keep Weston the quiet, family-centered, green and rural community it has always been.
NOTE: “About Town” is also a television program. It appears on Fridays and Saturdays from 5:30 to 6 p.m. on Cablevision Channel 88 (Public Access). Or see it at aboutweston.com.