TO THE EDITOR:
I “attended” the board of Finance Zoom meeting on Saturday morning May 2, and heard the comments and questions from the tax paying Citizens of the town.
Anyone who listened through the entire 3 hours and 2 minutes of the meeting came away with the CLEAR UNDERSTANDING that the vast majority of the town's tax paying citizens, were overwhelmingly in favor of approving the budget requests AS PROPOSED. This conclusion is further supported by the reporting done by this online Newspaper, Weston Today, that reported that 70% of the comments were in favor of the proposed budget and only 30% of the comments were in favor of further reductions.
The sentiment of the taxpaying Citizens was not a slight “leaning” in one direction or the other. It was not a questionable differential, had it been a poll, inside the margin of error. It was not a close call 4%, 5% or 10% different. IT WAS A NEARLY 250% DIFFERENCE of FOR the budget as proposed vs for reducing the budget from the proposed.
We are in unusual times and our budget process is in a new and evolving place. The Governor has given new guidance to the towns and subsequently to the Board of Finance, in light of the Covid-19 crisis.
This Board is seeking to take advantage of that guidance to grab power that likely was offered ONLY for a situation where the will of the town was NOT clearly understood or defined. The Board of Finance needs to respect and acknowledge that under a non-Covid process, the town budget meeting would have been followed by a town vote and that vote would have been a RESOUNDING VOTE IN FAVOR OF THE BUDGET AS PROPOSED, NO FURTHER CUTS.
The comments and questions of the Saturday, May 2, 3-hour meeting clearly was a poll and its results, 70-30. Should be the Board's only guidance going forward.
I was quite disturbed by the comment of one or more of the committee members, from its Thurday, May 7 meeting. This member said that “the quantity of comments for or against, was not as important as the passion of certain comments” (I did paraphrase this quote).
While watching the news recently, I was shocked by a protest inside of the state capital of Michigan, by citizens carrying military style Assault rifles and carrying Swastikas, Confederate flags (I didn’t remember Michigan being in the Confederate southern states) White supremacy symbols AND not wearing masks or socially distancing.
Were these protesters passionate? Absolutely! Was their point of view and their tactics appropriate, or worthy of overriding the millions of Michigan citizens who did not violate social distancing and did not use intimidation and violent threat to make their point? Not for one second?
Passion is not a requirement of democracy. When we Vote, we do not add passionate comments to a ballot to make our vote count more than another citizen's vote! Passion does not override Quantity.
In Weston, Why then do loud compassionate pleas from a tiny segment of the citizenship, supported by rumor and anecdotes, override the vast majority of common sense citizens who spoke politely and respectfully to the BOF committee and now seems to be suffering the dismissal of their voices? There is no legitimate answer.
I leave you with one last thought. There was a caller to the Saturday morning BOF meeting that stated that years of trying to increase home values by spending more on education, had not resulted in home values going up. He asked if it made sense to continue to pursue a failed approach.
I listened in disbelief! I thought that the reason that we spend money on education, in the town of Weston, was to EDUCATE our children. I for one, VOTE FOR continuing to educate our children in the best manner possible, to thank our selfless teachers and school employees, to reward our heroic Police Officers, to pave our streets on schedule, to clear the snow of next winter from our roads, to continue to recycle our horrific quantity of trash, to provide senior services to our elderly, to maintain our civic buildings and facilities, and in order to do that, I AM WILLING, ABLE, AND DEMANDING THAT I PAY AN INCREASE IN MY TAX BILL 0F ABOUT $200-$300. ($16 -$25 per month).
To the Weston Board of Finance: Please respect the voices of the people and approve the budget as proposed without any further delay.
— Lawrence Rehr
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