Letter: Concerned by Shortsighted ATBM

To the Editor:

As a 31-year resident of Weston, a retired investment banking executive, and a member of the Weston Board of Selectmen, I feel compelled to address the recent events at the Annual Town Budget Meeting (ATBM) and the potential consequences for our community. The budget cuts made by a small group of individuals are not only shortsighted but also threaten the very fabric of our town.

I have had the privilege of serving on the Board of Selectmen and working alongside dedicated town officials to craft a fiscally responsible budget that balances the needs of our community with the realities of the current economic climate.

Despite facing a 3.4% inflation rate, we managed to create a budget with a 0.26% DECREASE — the first net decrease in over 20 years. This achievement resulted from countless hours of hard work, careful analysis, and a deep understanding of our town’s long-term goals and needs.

While the current rules surrounding the ATBM process allow for this, it is disheartening to see that a mere 130 people, representing less than 1% of Weston’s population, took it upon themselves to make drastic cuts to vital town services, including $1,056,171 in cuts to the Town and Board of Education capital budgets.

These cuts not only undermine the expertise and efforts of our town staff and elected officials, but also jeopardize the safety and well-being of our employees and residents.

The cuts include the elimination of critical sidewalk funding ($225,000) required to continue on a critical project endorsed by the town. Sidewalks are not a luxury but a necessity for ensuring the safety of our community. We need to continue to work with the community to ensure we have safe walkways around town for our citizens.

Moreover, the cuts to the operating budget threaten essential services such as snow removal, road maintenance, and the Building Department, making it difficult for our town to function effectively and safely.

As someone with extensive experience in building and leading large organizations, I am deeply concerned about the long-term implications of the cuts that will impact the health and safety of our town employees. The elimination of funding for temporary modular housing ($607,000) jeopardizes the health and safety of our dedicated town and school employees by being forced to continue to house our employees in a substandard and dangerous environment.

Additionally, the cuts to engineering and planning ($150,000) put Weston at risk of non-compliance with state mandates and hinder our ability to attract new businesses and diversify our tax base.

It is crucial that we, as a community, take a stand against these shortsighted cuts that can be pushed through by a small majority of voters through the ATBM process. I urge all Weston residents to vote NO on the operating and capital budgets in the upcoming referendum. By doing so, we can send a clear message that these cuts are unacceptable and give the Board of Finance the opportunity to discuss and restore funding for vital services and infrastructure in a second referendum.

Furthermore, I implore everyone to vote YES on the education budget to ensure that our children’s education remains fully funded and unaffected by these reckless cuts.

As a long-time resident and public servant, I am deeply invested in the future of our town. We must not allow the decisions of a small group to jeopardize the safety, well-being, and prosperity of our community. Let us come together and vote NO on the operating and capital budgets, and YES on the education budget, to protect the future of Weston and ensure a fair and democratic process that considers the long-term well-being of all our residents.

Tony Pesco
Member, Board of Selectmen

Information about standards and practices for Letters to the Editor of Weston Today can be found here.

Also in Weston Today...