Editorial: Budget thoughts
In 1975, 1,318 people attended the Annual Town Meeting. There was such a turnout it was held in the Zeoli Fieldhouse. At last week’s public hearing on the $81-million school budget, five citizens attended.
Given that there was such a hue and cry after the special town meeting on the Miller-Driscoll renovation about government transparency and rising taxes, and given that more people voted against the budget last year than for it, one might have thought more than five people would be moved to attend a meeting that explained where the vast majority of their tax dollars are going.
But they did not. Are they watching on TV? It’s hard to tell. Since Cablevision does not track audience numbers for Channels 78 (education) or 79 (municipal), The Bulletin last week was able to get information only for online viewership of the boards of finance and selectmen and the Miller-Driscoll Building Committee. Viewership over nine meetings (three each) ranged from a high of 38 to a low of seven. The board that got the lowest viewership was the Board of Finance, so assuming the online viewership roughly parallels the cable TV viewership, not many people heard the finance board members last week ask for more public engagement in the budget process.
Wilton officials cannot craft a budget that will be supported by taxpayers without taxpayer input. Read Board of Education Chairman Bruce Likly’s comments in his Notes from the Board Table. Whether you are in favor of spending for particular items or against spending, your voice needs to be heard.
Speak your mind in public, or email members of the boards of finance, selectmen, or education:
The longer you wait, the closer it gets to the Annual Town Meeting, and the more difficult it gets to make meaninful changes.
Coincidentally, on the same night as the school budget hearing, more than 400 people — granted, not all from Wilton — flocked to Wilton Library to hear author Gretchen Rubin speak on the formation of habits. Maybe Wilton needs to get into the habit of attending public meetings!