Town budget needs your input

Thu, 03/21/2019 - 8:30pm

“What goes up must come down” is a statement that may apply to the laws of physics but not to municipal budgets.

Every year, town department heads submit their proposed budgets to the town. These requests reflect what each director feels is necessary to run their department. These requests are evaluated at town hall, and sometimes those requests are honored and sometimes they are not.

After analyzing these requests, town hall has proposed a 2020 budget of $14.9 million, an increase of just under $500,000.

While this may minimize the impact on local property taxes, it is hard not to feel the strain on various town departments and organizations. The town is balancing itself between the ambitious — building houses for town employees — and the practical. The Block Island Volunteer Fire Department had its requested budget of $180,000 reduced to $150,000. Island Free Library Director Kristen Baumann is trying to get her employees an hourly wage that matches those on the mainland, which seems reasonable given that the library staff lives in a place far more expensive than almost anywhere else. The Senior Advisory Committee, tasked with meeting the needs of the island’s growing aging population, had its request reduced by $3,000.

These are serious issues, and what money there is has to be allocated carefully. There are more budget hearings scheduled. On Monday, March 25, grants, the Capital Improvement Program, and debt service will be addressed. There is an additional meeting scheduled on Wednesday, March 27, is there are more issues to be discussed. The public hearing on the budget will be held on Wednesday, April 3, and the adoption of the budget will be held on Wednesday, April 27. All meetings are at 7 p.m.

The annual Financial Town Meeting will be held on Monday, May 6 at the Block island School at 7 p.m. Make your voice heard.