The budget public hearing, scheduled for Wednesday, April 3, at 8 p.m. at Weston Middle School, is probably the single most important meeting taxpayers can attend this year. It is worth the effort to make the time to go to this hearing.
The public hearing is the one chance to make your voice heard when it comes to the school and the town budgets before the Board of Finance makes its final decision on what budgets will go to the voters. The final approved budget affects every single resident — it determines every service, program, and amenity the town has to offer. But before anything can be offered, taxpayers need to tell town officials what they want.
Think the town should spend more or less money on police or maybe social services? Speak up. Think the schools need to cut staff, add staff, forgo a new program, buy more equipment, or spend differently on security measures? Speak up. How about capital items? Think town hall needs fewer or more printers and copiers, or maybe there should be more or less spent on building repairs? Speak up.
A budget public hearing is just that: a chance for the finance board to hear what the public wants. Members can’t make an informed decision about what taxpayers are willing and able to pay if you, the taxpayer, aren’t willing to tell them.
The school administration and town officials have worked very hard over many months to create a budget they believe provides residents with necessary services at a reasonable cost. Now it’s up to the finance board to decide if the budget requests do just that.
Telling the finance board now what — very specifically — you like and don’t like makes their tremendously difficult job a little bit easier. For example, in reviewing the school budget, several members suggested they are struggling with whether it might be a good idea to cut the equivalent of a few more teachers, given declining student enrollment. Their decision will be much easier if they hear one way or the other from the public.
Voting is important, but so is being a part of the process before the budget even comes to a vote. Much of the budget information may be found online at westonct.gov, and in the pages of The Weston Forum for the last several months (and on our website, too: thewestonforum.com — search “budget” and you will learn lots).
Make your voice heard Wednesday, and then be sure to follow through by voting on the final budget proposals next month.