Fri, 01/31/2020 - 2:45pm

A budget for the future

A budget discussion with Town Finance Director Amy Land this past week evolved into something other than a conversation about numbers and into the philosophical, to wit: What kind of town does Block Island want to be?

A part of the answer to that question is buried in the town’s budget. Right now, with a budget tipping toward the $15 million mark, a number that will certainly be passed when the 2021 budget is approved in May, all Block Island is doing is paying its bills. In the proposed budget there won’t be, as Land put it, any “fun or inventive initiatives.” And there probably won’t be for years to come. Land told The Block Island Times that this year’s budget is tight, and next year’s will be even tighter.

Look at what the Block Island School is having to do to meet its budget next year. Cut, cut, cut.

So what Land proposed was interesting, at least on the municipal side. She suggested that department heads draft a budget that includes a much-needed, but long-proposed project or service. Price that project out and put it into the budget. The thing is, it almost certainly won’t make it into the budget that is passed along to the Town Council prior to the Financial Town Meeting, but it will begin to shape what future budgets will look like when those pet projects can no longer be delayed and will simply have to become reality.

It’s an interesting proposal, and one that should be given some deep thought. Hopefully, after nearly four years of revolving town managers, we’ll be settling into a period of relative stability, and the town can start visioning just what services and amenities it would like to provide for its people.