Why I'm Voting Against the Override on June 11th
I'm voting no because this override is too big. The tax increase is too large to be justified by the needs of the town.
I do not make this statement out of ignorance. I'm a member of the Finance Committee (just this year) and a member of Town Meeting (four years now). I've reviewed every budget, talked to voters, and talked to town employees, salaried and hourly. I've thought, listened, talked, discussed, and argued. All told, I've probably spent 250 hours looking at town operations since the start of the year (Check out the FinComm minutes to see the work that the Committee does).
If the override fails, the town will do less next year. I regret some of the losses in service. But, none of the losses are critical or disastrous. They are unpleasant.
On the other hand, $6 million more per year will fund the town at too high of a level. The town has not demonstrated the fiscal restraint to spend only what it needs. It spends what it has. $6 million per year is much more than the town needs over the next 5 years, but, if the override passes, it will be spent nonetheless.
This is not the smallest override possible. It's not even a moderately-sized override. The proposal is the largest that the political leadership thought it could get approved on a ballot (review the Budget Task Force discussions this winter for the commentary).
In some ways, it's a game of chicken. By providing this stark choice of tax increase or a decline in service, it may be possible to push voters into choosing the tax increase. There were other options. The Selectmen could have proposed a smaller number. Or, they could even have put several numbers on the ballot, and let voters decide how much service they were willing to pay for. Instead, they chose to put forward one proposal, take it or leave it.
I choose to leave it.
It is true that if this override fails, there will be cuts in the town services delivered next year. If you're told these cuts are catastrophic, don't believe it. To paraphrase one of my favorite override supporters: "At the end of the day, the schools will be open, the trash will be picked up, and the police and fire will be there to protect us." There will be a next year, and the town will be a better place if it chooses to hold the cost of living here down.
Don't be bullied into this huge tax increase. Say no this year. Say "yes" when a more reasonable alternative is placed on the ballot.