Monday, June 1, 2009

Our town needs balanced leadership!

If you haven't been reading the LongmeadowBuzz blog and following the uncertainties of our town finances, please wake up before it is too late!

There are likely to be some significant shortfalls in town revenues for both the current FY2009 and FY2010. With the expiration of teacher and town employee contracts and no provision for "cost of living" adjustments in the FY2010 budget, the town will likely be dipping into the Operational Stabilization Fund or "rainy day" fund to balance the FY2010 budget.

Because of continuing fiscal problems, there will be a continuing need for elimination/ reduction of additional non-essential town-wide services. Longmeadow has done a significant amount of this in the past (curbside leaf collection, reduced curbside trash, increased High School sports user fees, etc.). There have been recent rumors of closing/relocation of the Greenwood Park/Senior Center as one of the next steps to reduce our spending.

In addition, the School Building Committee is moving on a timeline that may be putting a decision to build a new high school (price tag ~ $50-100 million) on the warrant for next year's annual town meeting.

If I had to personally prioritize town services, I would say that schools are very important but certainly don't rank at the top of the list.... I would rank public safety, fire, police, water supply, sewer and storm drainage before schools. Recent maintenance experience and surveys have shown that our town infrastructure and equipment are in desperate need of repair. You as a homeowner only need to experience a sewer backup or storm drain overflow into your basement one time before you put these services at the top of your personal list.

Election day is next Tuesday, June 9 with three of the Select Board seats being contested . There are two different Select Board elections- four candidates are running for two "three year" seats and two candidates are running for the "one year" seat (vacated by Brian Ashe).

Make sure that you vote for three candidates.

There is also a contest for one school committee seat (one year) with two candidates running. Two other incumbent candidates are running unopposed for the two "three year" seats .

There are a number of other uncontested elections. Here is a link to a complete election ballot.

The next 3-5 years are critical for Longmeadow if we are going to preserve the quality of life that many of us have come to expect. The Select Board race will elect 3 of 5 members- each of whom will play an important role in shaping our town's future. When deciding how to vote, please consider the team makeup of the SelectBoard. It appears obvious that there are polarizing elements in our town that would place schools above all else. We should elect candidates that will bring balance between schools and town services into planning for the future.

If you are going to be out of town and not able to vote on Election Day, pick up an absentee ballot at Town Hall. The deadline for filing absentee ballots is June 8 at 12 noon at the Town Clerk's office in Town Hall. For additional information about absentee ballots, please visit the Town Clerk's Voter Info webpage.

Make sure you get out to vote on election day- June 9.... As we have seen in recent close elections, your vote does count.

1 comment:

John J. Fitzgerald said...

Hello Jim,

You have the right to your opinions, however it would comfort the rest of us, if your opinions were grounded in facts.

You seem to advocate a philosophy of let the revenue determine our future. In brief, you would let Prop. 2 and 1/2 determine our future.

This is not wise.

I think a democracy should allow the citizens to determine our future.

We can over ride the dictates of Prop. 2 and 1/2 and give the voters the kind of government that they desire. This is a fairly straight forward question.

Why are so many people afraid of the words "over ride"?

It seems to me to be a simple question. Do we want a quality town? Quality means something better than adequate or acceptable or sufficient.

Quality requires effort and expenditure. It is not good enough to offer simply "smoke and mirrors."

Most people in Longmeadow want to maintain a quality town.

If so, we must pay sufficient taxes to maintain that quality. Right now we need to take a serious look at the financial needs of the town. There are a number of glaring needs, largely due to past neglect and avoidance.

This is a separate question from the financial concerns of individual citizens both real and imagined.

I hope that we get a significant turnout on Election Day. The decisions made on that day will live with us for the next few years.

The only candidates to vote for are those who will honestly discuss the need for enhanced revenues for future needs.

If a candidate claims we can move forward without new sources of revenue, then that candidate is being dishonest.

A community operates under the basic principles of
revenues and expenditures. If we do not wish to support increased revenues, then we must live with decreased expenditures.

It all comes down to a simple question - What kind of community do you want to have for your children, your neighbors and your self?

John J. Fitzgerald