To keep my emotions in check, I try to walk a mile in General Manager Scott Shanley's shoes, and look at the entire recommended budget.
- GM's Introduction to the FY09/10 Budget (Presentation)
- FY09/10 GM Recommended Budget
- FY 09/10 School Superintendent Budget Presentation
- FY09/10 BOE Recommended Budget
If you aren't computer savvy, then get out a pencil (you'll need the eraser, trust me), a pad of paper, and a calculator. If you can do your federal and state tax returns, you are smart enough and have all the skills needed to do this.
I promise you, if you do all that, you have just taken away the ability to be manipulated by someone who will be counting on you to be ignorant of this process. Now you will not be rattled by people throwing around large budgetary dollar amounts, percentages, or phrases like "actual tax levy increase." By doing the basic math, you have put the power where it belongs: in your hands.
I have included a Google Docs Spreadsheet here for you to view. It can be exported to Excel so you can input your own values. Just go to File > Export > .xls
Here is the budget process schedule. The town has made a budget comment web page available and it can be found here. There is also e-mail available. Look up the Boards of Directors here and the Board of Education here. There are plenty of opportunities to have our voices heard. Decisions are made by those who show up. We need to go to them with solutions, not problems and generalities.
"Speak your mind, even if your voice shakes."
Lastly, please remember that we as citizens have a new mechanism available to us this year in the town budget process. If enough people disagree with the outcome of the BOD vote in April, a petition for a budget referendum can be made. How to do that can be found here.
It is an austere year, but we are all in this together.