It’s budget time.
Every town department has submitted their requests to the 1st Selectman. He and his staff have crunched the numbers, asked them to trim some figures, then compiled it all into a 483-page document.
Now the Board of Finance steps up. They hold hearings next week. First comes the town budget; then education.
They’ll debate. They’ll vote. Then they’ll send their recommendations to the Representative Town Meeting.
There may be some intermediate steps — protests of some cuts, more back-and-forth, public input about what’s essential, what’s a frill, and whose ox is getting gored.
But by mid-spring, Westport will have a budget. Everything from pencils to potholes will be funded. Our mill rate will be set.
And — despite perennial complaints about high taxes — just ask relatives and friends anywhere elsewhere in the tri-state are about their taxes. You’ll realize what we pay is pretty low, considering all we get. (Perhaps you can compare your taxes with others while watching the sunset at Compo, walking at Longshore, or waiting to pick up your kid at school.)
Those budgets and mill rates don’t fall from the sky. They involve plenty of planning, short- and long-range; plenty of scrutinizing; plenty of priorities.
And plenty of time. The budget process is months in the making. Much of it is tedious (and eye-straining). All of it is crucial.
Making a budget is the job of town employees. Passing it is the work of volunteers, on the Board of Education, Board of Finance, RTM and other bodies.
It’s easy to say “my taxes are too high.” It’s easy to say “why do we need x, y or z?” (of course, your x, y and z is very different from mine).
It’s a lot tougher to study spreadsheet after spreadsheet, attend meeting after meeting, and cast difficult vote after difficult vote.
This week’s Unsung Heroes are all the women and men who make the process work. Westport would not be Westport without your service.
(Do you know an Unsung Hero? Email firstname.lastname@example.org)