I recently received some criticism for my support and bringing forward a "Cost of Living Adjustment" (COLA) for the non-union town employees of 1.5%, which will cost $13,500.00 to fund from the bottom line of the budget. Due to this my character has been called into question after less than two months on being on the board. Although I am more than happy to discuss and explain my reasons/actions with anyone will to call or approach me; I will not do it on the so-called "Town Forum". So I thought I would outline them here:
- I have indicated many times that I am a conservative; but I have also stated many times I believe we need to invest and protect our town assets and infrastructures. The employees of this town are a critical asset and are key to the operation of the town's day-to-day; not to mention the services required by the citizens.
- The non-union employees have not had an increase in a couple of years.
- Many of the non-union employees have not received any STEP increases, as they have been working within the town for many years and reached the top of the salary scales.
- The town residents authorized many increases to both the town and school budgets to support our employees; so I would assume if there was an increased included in the budget, it would have been approved.
- It was the desire of the Board of Selectman (which I was not a member at the time) to provide a 3% increase, which was denied by the Budget Committee and not lower recommendation was allowed. I certainly agreed that 3% may have been to high for the time, and something less should have been requested.
- My recommendation of a 1.5% and not 3% was made to address a problem, recognize the employees for their work and not to impact the tax base.
- I am also not willing to increase TAXES; but we may be forced into it, and it will not be because of a small salary increase. If I thought it would, I would have not brought it forward.
- The town budget represents a small fraction of the income that comes from TAXES, and the employees, leaders, and others have done a great job in controlling spending; and continuing to improve services. This should be recognized not criticized.
I welcome anyone to reach out and call me to discuss my positions or anything I have done since being elected on the Board of Selectman. I am here to server the whole community; not just a few that enjoy being on their soapbox and don't have a complete understanding of what's happening behind the scenes.
I think it also important to note, I am a taxpayer also; and experiencing the same issues caused by the economy that my neighbors and friends are. So any increases in spending I support impacts my family, friends and me also; so I must have a good reason for doing it.
I welcome any feedback; just pick-up the phone and call me at 603.262.3901.