Letter: Our Town Requires Care

To the Editor:

Every budget is an investment in the future. As a restaurateur leading a nationwide business, I know how deeply investment sets an endeavor up for success.

As a proud parent of children in the Weston school system, I’ve seen firsthand how past investments (or the lack thereof) are shaping our student’s school experience. As a citizen of Weston and local homeowner, I understand that the value of our town does not inherently self-reproduce; it requires care and development.

As other Westonites like David Muller and Sarah Grigerick recently have, I feel compelled to express my deep concern regarding the recent budget cuts made at the Annual Town Budget Meeting (ATBM). These shortsighted decisions, made by a small group of individuals, have the potential to severely impact our community’s future and the well-being of our children.

Thousands of Weston residents decided to put leaders in place to guide our town forward. The original budget, carefully crafted by these dedicated Town officials, struck a delicate balance between meeting the needs of our community and maintaining fiscal responsibility. Despite a 3.4% inflation rate, they managed to create a budget with a 0.26% decrease — the first net decrease in over 20 years. This remarkable achievement required hard work, expertise, and a deep understanding of our town’s long-term goals.

However, the more than $1 million in cuts to the town and Board of Education capital budgets undermines this hard work and jeopardizes the future of our town and our children.

These cuts were not made by the general voting public, but by a small activist group with the time to attend the ATBM and the desire to break the budget for theatrical effect instead of allowing our elected and designated leaders to do their jobs.

The elimination of critical sidewalk funding puts the safety of our children and residents at risk. Growing up, I walked to my elementary school. Living on Old Hyde, my family is closer to the Weston schools than I was then — but without safe (or any) sidewalks, we cannot let our children do the same. Tragic incidents in nearby towns serve as stark reminders of the importance of safe pedestrian infrastructure.

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.

The elimination of $150,000 for engineering and planning puts Weston at risk of non-compliance with state mandates and hinders our ability to attract new businesses and diversify our tax base through the Village District master plan. As a business owner, I understand the importance of investing in infrastructure and planning for long-term growth and stability.

Short-term cuts often lead to long-term losses. We cannot afford to gamble with our town’s future and our children’s safety by allowing these cuts to stand. That is why 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 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 parent, nothing is more important to me than providing my children with a safe, nurturing, and well-rounded educational experience.

More people getting involved in our town should be auspicious, but let’s not confuse this past week with a dawning of a new age without apathy. A few handfuls of people seeking to do damage to score political points is a continuation of a crisis of cynicism we are seeing at a national scale.

Weston stands at a critical juncture, and the decisions we make now will have lasting impacts on our community and our children’s future. Let us come together and vote NO on the operating and capital budgets, ensuring a fair and democratic process that considers the long-term well-being of our town. We must invest in our future and our children, not cut it short.

—  Adam Halberg

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