To the editor:
As chairman of the Effingham Budget Committee, I take my job seriously, and work hard to put together a workable budget for the town of Effingham, as do the other four members of the committee.
We try to meet the needs of the town, and create a budget that does not stretch the taxpayers to thin.
Unfortunately the tax rate is a multi-faceted rate, with several components beyond the town's control such as the school district and the county tax. As I travel about town, and as I work, I hear from many people that the town tax is way to high.
We have commitments to make as well as a need to provide for the security and safety of the town, and we scrutinize every dollar in the budget. What frustrates me is that the budget committee meets in public session most Tuesday nights during the budget season, which runs from November to February, in preparation for the march town meeting. The scheduled time is immediately following the selectmen's meeting. We schedule different departments each week, and this schedule can be found on public bulletin boards around the town, and, at each meeting, usually the only people there are the committee members and the department heads whose budget is being looked at.
Lately, there have been some huge audiences at the selectmen's meeting, but everyone clears out and leaves as the budget committee takes the floor.
If you don't come to the meetings and voice your concerns during the public comment period, we as a committee only have our own input to consider.
Additionally, early in February is a public hearing on the whole budget with a bottom-line number, and, historically, very few people show up for this hearing and input is minimal.
Then finally comes the town meeting where the budget is put up for a vote by the town, and, low and behold, the people who complain to me all year long never show up for the meeting to vote on the overall budget or to give their input as to how the money should be spent and how much should be spent overall.
My father used to beat it in to my head that you are either part of the problem or part of the solution, and through out my life I have tried to be part of the solution.
If you don't show up for these important meetings then you are part of the problem. You have to get out and get your opinions heard. I am only one man on a committee of five people, and we are looking for input from the community as we craft the spending plan for the next year. So, be a part of the solution and attend these meetings and give your input.