Letter: Disheartened by ATBM

To the Editor:

As a 30-year resident of Weston, I have always taken pride in our town’s sense of community, civility, and democratic values. However, the recent Annual Town Budget Meeting (ATBM) has left me shocked and deeply concerned about the direction our town is heading.

What I witnessed at the ATBM was a display of wild conspiracy theories, disinformation, and a complete lack of comity. It was disheartening to see a small group of extremists hijack a centuries-old governance structure to push their own agenda, undermining the hard work and expertise of our elected officials and town staff who carefully crafted a fiscally responsible budget.

The original budget, which represented the first net decrease in over 20 years, was a testament to the diligence and thoughtfulness of our Board of Selectmen and town officials. Despite a 3.4% inflation rate, they managed to create a balanced budget that served our community’s needs while maintaining fiscal responsibility. However, a mere 130 individuals, representing less than 1% of Weston’s population, took it upon themselves to make drastic, shortsighted cuts totaling more than $1 million to the Town and Board of Education capital budgets and more than $300 thousand to the Town operating budget.

These cuts not only jeopardize essential services such as snow removal, road maintenance, and the Building Department but also threaten the safety of our children and residents by eliminating critical sidewalk funding.

Moreover, the cuts to temporary modular housing put the health and safety of our dedicated Town and school employees at risk, while the elimination of funding for engineering and planning jeopardizes Weston’s compliance with state mandates and hinders our economic development.

What is most concerning is that this small group of extremists has deprived the majority of Weston citizens of their right to vote on the original budget. The ATBM, a governance structure dating back to the 18th century, has been co-opted to subvert the democratic process and impose the will of a few on our entire community.

As a long-time resident, I am sickened by this turn of events and urge all Weston citizens to take a stand against this undemocratic and shortsighted decision. We must vote NO on the operating and capital budgets in the upcoming referendum to send a clear message that these cuts are unacceptable. By doing so, we can allow the Board of Finance to restore funding for vital services and infrastructure in a second referendum, ensuring that the budget reflects the priorities of our entire community.

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

It is time for us to reclaim our democratic process and show that Weston will not be held hostage by a small group of extremists. We must stand together and vote NO on the operating and capital budgets, and YES on the education budget, to protect our town’s future and the well-being of all its residents.

—  Barbara Reynolds

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