After reading the editorial last Friday, “Credibility In Question,” regarding the passage of the Proposition 2½ override to hire eight firefighters in Fiscal Year 2021, I felt obligated to bring up some interesting facts that confirm the editor’s valid points.
There is no question that the town needs more firefighters/EMTs; that fact was never in question. However, it was apparent that a good number of resident taxpayers were of the belief that by voting the override it would keep the West Falmouth fire station open and staffed. I, and others, feel strongly that the override was pushed through without enough material information going to the voters or Town Meeting members. As far as I know, it was the first time that an override was put to a ballot vote before being discussed at Town Meeting where questions and concerns would have been addressed.
In a letter to the Enterprise I informed residents that the override was 1) not necessary, and 2) that interviewing, hiring and training of these employees in FY21 was not feasible, due to the length of time it takes to go through the process, and the training facility was shut down due to COVID-19. The town was/is fully aware of the length of time it takes to get first responders onto their payroll.
I spoke at the Spring Town Meeting with information from the Department of Revenue that clearly demonstrated that the override was avoidable and unnecessary. I too question why our administration and the finance committee did not thoroughly vet this permanent tax override that will continue to grow at 2½ percent (plus) annually? As the oversight committee for the town, shouldn’t finance committee members be educated in how the tax rate is calculated? Free cash? If they do know, are they aware that the town’s free cash has been as high as 10.15 percent of the budget?
Research shows that the town has continually underestimated their annual revenues by millions of dollars over the past eight years. We, the taxpayers, have also been charged for building up reserves when most cities and towns use free cash for that purpose, not burdening the taxpayer. As a taxpayer, Town Meeting member, retired town accountant and former certified government accountant, I too question “what else hasn’t been explained.”
I’m not sure if it’s “bait and switch” or just “the tail wagging the dog,” but yes, credibility definitely should be questioned!
Mary Ellen Alwardt