Sent: Thursday, September 20, 2007 3:47:17 PM
To: Select Board
I like these. I found it helpful to strip out the philosophy and focus on the specific suggestions, so I edited them to do that. In case it helps you, too, here's the "abridged" version.
Bryan H’s budget suggestions
1. Ask the Manager to present his recommendations in a way that provides clear programmatic implications (not just financial amounts) for different funding levels.
2. Ask the Manager to set his priorities in light of the town's obligations vs. its choices. The town and only the town can provide police and fire protection, discharge the municipal corporation's fiduciary responsibilities to taxpayers and bondholders, satisfy statutory requirements relating to public health, and so forth. It would be very helpful if the Manager
annotated his budget recommendation in a way that relates these obligations to actual expenditures.
3. For discretionary expenditures, ask the Manager to give the highest priority to activities that fall the closest to the set of services that citizens customarily associate with local government. Some examples of common expectations might be many aspects of library services (albeit not in the Manager's purview), programs for seniors, and recreation programs for kids. Urge that there be clarity in the Manager's budget about what kinds of expectations we are trying (and not trying) to meet.
4. Ask the Manager to give special attention to the necessary but unglamorous components of the municipal budget. If the Selectboard is not "the constituency" for these activities, then I do not know who is.
5. Focus on the reasoning behind and criteria for the decisions the Manager will make, not what outcome you want to see.
6. Ask the Manager to organize his budget proposal in terms of the most significant challenge facing our community's ability to meet the needs of our citizens now and in the future: broadening the revenue base so as to minimize the reductions in services with which we are currently grappling, and will surely grapple for years to come. Much discussion has already been devoted to this topic, but the Manager's budget must reflect the urgency of that task.