Hebron Dollars & Sense
- Created on Monday, 14 May 2012 19:28
Since the defeat of the Hebron and RHAM budgets on May 8th, Hebron Dollars and Sense has been hard at work listening to the voice of the customer - the taxpayers. We've been watching what each Board and Commission has done in response to the initial defeat, and trying to match their response to what taxpayers are asking for.
The bottom line? Boards and Commissions have not listened to the voice of the customer, and the result is a second effort at a budget that has barely moved the needle from the first attempt. At this time, we here at Hebron Dollars and Sense are forced to recommend a No vote at the next referendum on May 22nd.
It seems that our elected leaders feel that the reason we are not supporting their budget is about specific targeted line items. The reality is that when you take each of those individual items and add them together, it's the total that we cannot live with. Many in town continue to experience unemployment and underemployment. Even those who have solid, relatively stable jobs are facing rapid increases in energy costs, college tuition and even the simple need to feed their families. As the gap narrows between what we make and what it costs to live here, we have to make sacrifices. We forgo the "nice to haves" so we can afford the "have to haves". Our town does not seem to have the same view. Additions such as all day Kindergarten, Lacrosse and Chinese exchange trips can certainly add to attractiveness of our town and the benefits it's residents can receive. However, they all fall into the "nice to have" category, and we simply cannot afford more than is absolutely required at this time.
In addition to budgets that don't match the needs of the taxpayer, we also don't have information being presented in a way that those of us asked to vote in support of the budget can understand exactly what it is we're being asked to approve. Layer upon layer of spreadsheets may seem like transparency, but there needs to be summary and analysis shared that explains what's in there and why it's needed. Until we can feel that we are making informed decisions, we must say no until we have enough information presented in a way that we can feel confident about our choices.
The biggest gap exists in lack of efficiency in how we are operating. When workload gets too great, the answer seems to be to ask for increased headcount. Many of us have tried this approach in our own employers, and have been met with a very clear answer. Headcount will not be added when the potential exists to improve the efficiency of what we do instead. We have two Superintendents responsible for operating four buildings in town, yet there are other towns where the ratio is more like 1 Superintendent to 10 or more schools. Even if we cannot share a resource due to the influence of Andover and Marlborough on the RHAM structure, we don't have to fill both positions with a full time equivalent. We can take the same approach administrators have with teaching positions and make both RHAM and Hebron Superintendents a .5 FTE position, matching the cost to the amount of productivity we get out of the role.
Until our elected officials listen to the message the taxpayers are giving them and limit their plans to only those expenses we must take on, Hebron Dollars and Sense will continue to indicate a No vote is the proper response. Keep watching this site, our Facebook page and follow us on Twitter (links are available from our home page) to stay informed on the latest updates as we head into the next round of voting.