Charter revision #8 reads, “Shall the Charter be amended to provide that if the number of electors present at the annual Town Meeting equals at least 4% of the registered town electors, then the annual Town Meeting may increase the Town Budget or Board of Education budget (C9-3B)?”
Those that have rejected some of the proposed charter revisions, specifically #1 and #2 (Town Manager and BOS to 5 members, respectively), have used a number of arguments repeatedly against these two proposals. Things like:
- that this is “bigger government”
- that this is a “sure and steady slide to a form of government that minimizes and limits the direct access, influence and power of Brookfield voters in determining the future direction of the Town.”
- that this is an “attempt to force through change which is good for the minority seeking to control the majority."
- that this will “limit or restrict community input and grant more authority to those that are elected or appointed.”
- that “The First Selectman should remain the person in charge, directly accountable to the voters for his/her actions."
- that “What we need is LESS government not MORE!!”
All of these are direct quotes from people here on The Patch. These folks, and many others, oppose these first two questions based on their stated rationale.
I don't agree, but OK, fine.
But why would many of them (and I believe all of them in some form have) reject(ed) proposal number 8???
This proposal gives MORE authority to the people of the Town.
As it stands now, if enough people in the Town come to the annual Town Meeting about the budget, they can move and vote to DECREASE the recommended budget proposal by line item that has been put forth by the Board of Finance (the proposed budget would still need to go to a Town referendum and be approved by the voters). The people have that power.
But what the people CAN’T do under the current charter is move and vote to INCREASE the budget line items in the proposal.
You – the voter, tax payer, and resident - can’t do that.
Only the BOF (the “government” in this case) has that power and you can’t do a thing about it once they decide.
Why then can’t enough people (the same amount that can LOWER a budget) require that a budget proposal be raised to the level that was proposed by the other Boards?
It should also be noted that there would be a limit on increases under this revision; budgets would only be able to go to the level voted on and approved by the BOE or BOS, so it's not the “wild west.” Increases would only go to the level approved by people elected to boards.
Also, these actions (increasing and decreasing) are for budget line items, not the general budget. The school budget is a single line item, so that's simple. But suppose the town side included funding for Cadigan Field and the BOF eliminated that. The motion to increase would need to be specific that funds would be restored for this purpose (restored to that line in the budget). Again, not the wild west.
Try this example:
Let’s say, you hear the Board of Selectmen and Board of Education go through their respective budget proposals. Let’s say, you think they are reasonable and you would vote to support them both.
But now those budgets go through the Board of Finance (as they should since the BOF is the Town’s fiscal authority). And let’s say that the BOF cut each budget or line items in, what appears to you to be, a reckless or short-sighted manner.
Guess what? You can’t do a thing to restore those budgets to their original proposed levels. You can show up and make public comment and try to persuade your elected BOF to change their position, but you have no ability to actually restore those levels. You may never get to vote on the original proposals by the BOS and BOE.
But you can reduce those levels at the annual Town Meeting.
How is that democratic???
Where is the protest over “big government” and the “nanny state” for this???
Why aren’t Brookfielders allowed and/or capable of increasing what they are allowed to decrease?
Proposition #8 gives the people that power and it should be confirmed at the polls on November 6.
Vote “YES” on charter revision #8.