As a concerned resident I felt it necessary to attend the May 1 Board of Finance joint workshop with the Board of Selectmen discussing our town budget. In such matters, I am generally concerned that politics weasel their way in with the work of government officials. I personally believe that politics and government are two separate entities and each can exist without the other. Unfortunately in this day and age, on all levels of government within these United States, the marriage of both is considered the norm and tends to only serve those in office and their narrow audience of “constituents.” During the meeting I was happy to find that, though the scent of political egos hung in the air, I found little trace of their infiltration directly impacting the final decisions made.
At this time I would like to thank the board for their efforts on this inherently dejected, detested and ultimately derided responsibility. The majority of the population sees the final number, but not the energy and effort spent in pinching pennies and quantifying quarters. It was a relief to see some members really evaluating the needs of the town, and standing up for the deliverables that the citizens need, deserve and expect when they are placing their hard earned money in the hands of our town hall. As an engineer I can appreciate the value of the data, and making decisions off of the numbers that are provided from past experience and future expectation, however I also know that data can make one blind, and if proper thought isn’t put forth into the evaluation of the budgeted item then the result could be catastrophic.
I would like to ask my fellow citizens, when the time comes for your decision to be made on the town budget, that you keep in mind the variety of services provided to you. Keep in mind the luxuries that you use daily, but think of rarely, for example road maintenance, sewer functionality, and the beautiful parks and open spaces that are maintained and available around town. Be sure that you keep in mind the variety of storms that we’ve had, including the blizzard where our street department and wastewater treatment plant workers spent countless hours in the cold, away from their families making our streets safe and keeping our utilities functional. If a hard look is taken at our town departments, many will realize that for the required work we are desperately understaffed, and yet seemingly fully functional. These town employees do an exceptional job and deserve the support of the town. In addition, please consider the men and women of the Beacon Hose Fire Department. They are volunteers. They risk their lives, voluntarily, to save yours. These incredible people should never be without. It should never be a question of whether they deserve the better equipment to do what they must, it should always be a question of why don’t they have the best.
Is everything perfect in our Town Hall? No, there are inefficiencies. There are places where newer technology can drastically improve the way of working, and more effective practices can harbor savings. In light of this I challenge the town’s people, take action, make it part of your responsibility to provide advice and do your part to assist with the functionality of our town. Beacon Falls is a small town with a great small town attitude. I was born and raised here and have seen it change over the years. Though there is still a force of volunteers in town, the relative corps size has dwindled. If we consider a population of around 6,000 people (2010 census), and asked each person to volunteer one hour of their time in some fashion to improve our town during the year that would result in over 16 hours of volunteer time per day every day that year. Imagine what our town could have, at no cost, if 16 hours of volunteer work was completed each day. Then imagine if each of those 6,000 people did more than one hour of volunteer work in that year.
Your friendly neighbor,