Here's the first emailed feedback the Select Board has received re: FY09 Budget Priorities. Please come to Town Hall Thursday September 20 -- yes, this week! -- to share and to listen from 7:00 pm - 8:30 pm. I'll post anything I get electronically without the sender's e-mail address and just showing first name last initial, so you don't feel like you've missed anything:-)
Sent: Monday, September 17, 2007 8:06:46 PM
To: Select Board
First, I commend you for the approach you are initiating this year. I believe we could save a great deal of time and energy during Town Meeting if we could spend more time up front ensuring that the Town Manager's budget was, in fact, prioritized.
I appreciate the difficulty of the choices that have to be made. Here is my input for your review and consideration:
I strongly believe that we have to stop trying to do public safety on the margins. We need to have an adequately-staffed force to respond to all manner of incidents, specifically UMass's out-of-control students. The police are overworked during the school year and do not have adequate resources to address other aspects of public safety, e.g., traffic enforcement, community policing, etc.
The fire/EMS is also chronically understaffed, and many times the first responders are college students, not professionals.
UMass needs to be forced into paying what it actually incurs; I suggest we start billing them in 18 months' time for actual costs, not some PILOT shell game like we do now.
We need to adequately fund the schools. All children are being short-changed, and the effects of the past four years are going to take many years to undo. The physical plant at Wildwood is appalling - it seems the school hasn't had cleaning or upgrade since it was built almost 40 years ago. And, the design is for an educational fad that failed, leaving kids in cramped, noisy, really dreadful "classrooms."
We need a staff position that addresses two issues on a full-time basis: economic growth/development and UMass relations.
We need to upgrade all major intersections in downtown - Rte 9/116, Amity/University Dr., Triangle/N. Pleasant. They can't accommodate the traffic they should, resulting in huge impacts to residential neighborhoods.
We need to actually cut some services. You decide which ones, but we can't keep funding everything on the backs of staff who are cut.