For the past 15 years in Weston, we have had a dream. That someday the Juliana Lachat Preserve, including homestead, barns, and fields, will become a place for community identity.
I have long felt that the initial purchase of the 34-acre lower fields parcel might very well have been the finest act by a special Town Meeting. Ever. The people unanimously cried out “yes,” and the land was ours!
And now, here we are with a new generation of Westonites, in a new century, in difficult financial times, and still stepping up to the plate. Bravo to the Lachat Oversight Committee! These are thinkers, visionaries, and very practical people, too. And they are armed with ideas gleaned from the work of the grassroots “Friends of Lachat.”
Furthermore, they understand that in a year when the Board of Finance has felt it necessary to reduce our school budget, this is no time to return to the well for public money. With the able assistance of the Board of Selectmen, they are fashioning a very reasonable plan that will rely on grants and in-kind and monetary contributions to fund new activities, and the in-place Lachat maintenance moneys for other needs.
It is good to be able to dream. Which is one reason Lachat is so important to all Westonites. Check out the committee’s “Master Planning Draft” on the town of Weston website!
Does anyone believe that the Board of Finance would act in a manner contrary to the interests of the children of Weston? I don’t. Although I must admit that one of the reasons I have never sought a seat on that board is that I have never seen a budget request that didn’t look reasonable to me.
My main experience with budgets came early in life, during summer employment in the financial department of a company, doing “trial balances” every Friday. Subsequently, I had the responsibility of looking for errors on wiring diagrams, that also being a task requiring laser-like attention to detail.
The punch line of my story is that the company at which I did both jobs went bankrupt. In the end, it didn’t matter how good a job I did, because bad management did them in.
That is what I took away from my experience. But only last week, when the Board of Finance painfully exacted a small tasking of the school budget, did I fully get it!
It is that board’s responsibility to keep Weston’s budgets in balance. This is a type of planning. We have limited resources. The community must prioritize where to spend its limited flow of tax revenues.
Yes, 80% or so of our tax money goes to the school system. But more than that, 100% of our thoughts and cares go to the people, young, old, and in-between. Decision-making about each public expenditure that is made nowadays must address this question: How will the proposed expense make Weston a better place in which to live, work, and own a home? What added value does this expense provide?
And, by the way, as a small community with not much in the way of infrastructure or commerce, we have to be smarter than most about how we spend our limited funds.
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. This week’s guest is Gail Lavielle, state representative from the 143rd District (Wilton, Westport, and Norwalk).