Friday, November 25, 2011

In Winchester, a fine-line budget

    WINCHESTER — The town’s budget committee is feeling frugal, and deep spending-cut proposals are raising eyebrows.
    “We have some people on the budget committee who are very, very concerned with people in town being able to afford things,” said Brian Moser, committee chairman.
    “With the economy the way it is and the number of poor people in Winchester, we really have to ask: ‘can we afford to do this?’ ”
    But Selectman Gustave A. Ruth Jr. is worried the committee is proposing cuts with little regard for the government functions the budget supports.
    The budget committee has been reviewing town departments’ 2012 spending proposals since September.
    “Every time someone’s budget comes up they just cut it. It’s automatic without listening to what they need the money for,” Ruth said.
    The committee recently voted to eliminate a part-time town employee at the transfer station, arguing the station is already staffed by employees of Monadnock Disposal Services, Moser said. The selectmen responded by saying the station would have to be closed without a town employee assigned to its operation, he said.
    Ruth believes the committee will propose a budget down as much as 20 percent from last year. Voters will be able to increase the proposal at the town’s deliberative session by no more than 10 percent — making a proposal of a 10 percent reduction inevitable.
    Moser said the committee’s proposal is unlikely to be a 20 percent reduction, but he does expect it will be lower than the selectmen have requested.
    A budget reduction will mean that “some services will be cut, and I don’t know if the people want that,” Ruth said.
    The budget committee proposes a total budget number that is submitted to voters for approval, but it is the selectman who decide how the approved money is ultimately spent.
    If the budget is reduced, the first cuts will most likely be to snow removal and road maintenance, Ruth said.
    The $3.5 million 2011 budget that voters approved in March represented a 1.9 percent increase over the 2010 number.
    The budget committee is required to hold a public hearing where voters can express their opinions before the committee makes its final proposal.
    The 2012 hearing is tentatively scheduled for the second week of January, Moser said.


    Very Concerned said...

    Budget Committee, please stay the course. We need you to survive here. We have cut our home budgets 10 to 20 % and more, and what savings we have, or had, have been dwindling fast. Mr. Ruth, we want to stay in our homes and feed our families, buy fuel to heat and drive our car to work, if we have work. Our town needs to sacrifice like many others in the state have. Our employees need to be frugal and honest with their time and work ethics.
    Look around. The Sentinel is reporting town tax rates and they have been going up around us. This is very frightening.

    cut some more said...

    We are a small town of just over 4000 residents and yet we have an employee budget of over a million dollars! The reasoning behind this says we have to pay high salaries in order to keep good people. I say baloney to that. The truth is the selectman are taking care of their own; family and friends who'll support their decisions time and time again.Town employees are rewarded for their allegiance, there willingness to go along and not report wrong doings and to vote the way they are directed. Meanwhile many of us suffer.
    We have a road crew with a budget for nearly half a million;yet we sub out work and all anyone ever sees these guys do is ride around ruining equipment, costing us even more money.
    We have a police budget over half a million dollars, nine or ten officers and a dog catcher, lots of toys for the dept and now they want a canine officer and dog, give me a beak, we have way too many officers for such a small town and they are mostly doing detail work instead of patrolling out streets.
    I won't even speak of the wasted dollars for an ambulance crew that takes nearly an hour to respond to emergencies, or a fire dept that is constantly going before the board asking for everything under the sun; does anyone know how many paid personal are on the books?
    There is just too many wasted and unaccounted for dollars in our town budget and no sense of frugality or accountability from our selectmen. Why do we need town administrator who refuses to deal with people and an executive secretary to do her work?
    The budget committee is headed in the right direction and I fully support them, I only ask that they take a good look and make real cuts where they can and pay no heed to the few living high on the hog complaining about their decisions. The people who are hurting the most are depending on them to do what is right.

    The Real World--NOT said...

    We are paying taxes in a town where the majority of the employees worked 2 and 1/2 days this week and got payed 40 hours. Most of the people supporting these employees work 5-6-and 7 days a week and couldn't even dream of making a living in 3 and 4 days. We didn't used to expect much of our public employees because they were making substandard wages. The fact that they don't have to commute, get good wages and benefits should translate to production but it doesn't seem to in Winchester.

    Anonymous said...

    They should all be part timers with benefits they pay for themselves, just like the rest of us. You can't tell me there's enough work to keep them all on full time. Hell the busiest office is town clerk and he sits around most of the day reading.
    Sharra is either outside smoking or walking around visiting as is the rest of them. No time clocks so they come and go as they please and no one is in charge, what a waste, we can and should do much better.

    Anonymous said...

    The town employees want to work four days a week? How about eight hours a day, instead of ten. Perhaps that would enable use account for their time a little better. Would save tax dollars too.

    Why Bother ? said...

    Study after study has been done on 10 hour days with 4 day work weeks. You don't get the same production as 5 days with 8 hours. I guess if there is no one keeping track of how much work gets done it really doesn't matter. There is that little matter of the employees coming and going when ever they feel the urge that doesn't help with the productivity either.

    Just Asking said...

    Hard to tell, coming and going from the dump, does the morning break at hwy last an hour or an hour and a half?