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Town Budget Passed; Protests Are Past

Last week, the RTM unanimously approved the 2022-23 town budget, of about $222.8 million.

That could be the most underrated, underreported — and astonishing — story of the year.

Each spring for decades, budget battles consumed us. The Board of Finance slashed the Board of Education request. The Board of Ed fought back, with the backing of some — but not all — residents.

Parents argued for and against teachers and/or administrators. Westporters with no kids in school screamed at those who did, and at each other.

The next step — final approval by the Representative Town Meeting — was just as brutal.

Petitions were filed. Referendums were held. An entire political party — the Taxwatchers — formed in the crucible of budget wars.

Dick Leonard, Westport Education Association president, during a budget battle.

Things calmed down in recent years. Still, town boards and the RTM did not always see eye to eye. Department heads were forced to plead their cases, sometimes for just a few thousand dollars.

As Washington has become more polarized, Westport politicians play nice. This year’s requests sailed through, with only a couple of adjustments made.

The numbers seem large: almost $138.7 million for education, about $84.1 million for other town operations,, plus the Library, health and transit districts, and Earthplace.

But the people who make the decisions — Democrats, Republicans and the non-partisan RTM (no Taxwatchers) — seem to agree that Westport is in very sound fiscal shape.

They like the bangs they get for our bucks.

Residents must agree. Peeps in town made very few peeps throughout the process.

Sometimes no news is good news. Washington, take note!

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