To the editor,
The 2013-14 budget season has begun. Since 2005, when I was a selectman in Beacon Falls, I have openly advocated for the first selectman’s position to be fulltime. Then First Selectman Susan Cable routinely stated that she was embarrassed by her small salary. She endorsed and supported making this an official full-time position in 2011. It is incorrect to say that the position of first selectman is part-time; according to state general statutes, the position is first selectman; the only thing “part-time” is the compensation. A new compensation package will attract a broader field of qualified candidates; men and women with expertise in leadership, finance and administration.
Along with the salary adjustment, there are other much larger items to be considered that seem to be lost in the arena of public discourse, as some seem to focus solely on the first selectman compensation package. The fire department is proposing to replace a 25-year-old pumper truck and repair a leaky roof, totaling close to $1 million; both need to be done. Other items in the budget include capital projects totaling $233,493. The Downtown Streetscape, improvements to Blackberry Hill Road and the Depot Street Bridge overruns alone account for an additional $581,700 added to the current budget.
I proposed restructuring of our outstanding Sewer and Water bonds and other previously approved bonds, BAN and note issues. These will result in a savings of approximately $300,000, shortening some of the terms by as much as five years.
I encourage all residents to obtain the budget document from Town Hall and read it. Please arm yourselves with facts and information, and do attend the public hearing, which will be scheduled upon Board of Finance approval of the proposed budget document.
Gerard F. Smith