Editorial: Add a ‘too high,’ ‘too low’ addendum to budget votes

Election official Susan Henderson reads results while Board of Finance chairman Bill Alvarez takes notes of the results.

At the in-person announcement of this year’s municipal and education budget referendum results on Tuesday, May 2, at the Redding Community Center, Board of Finance chairman Bill Alvarez proclaimed to the small crowd that, yet again, his board had proven vocal residents who spoke against educational budget cuts at many Board of Finance meetings in early 2017 did not represent the wishes of the entire town.

His reasoning, apparently, was that the budget his Board of Finance presented to the town had passed by a large margin.

That reasoning does not pass muster, especially from a chairman who unprecedentedly refused to allow public comment at the last finance board meeting before the referendum.

Every year, the Board of Finance has the option to add a second question to the budget referendum — a too high, or too low addendum — that would allow citizens to literally prove the chairman’s statement.

Instead, this year like in years passed, the Board of Finance did not add such an addendum.

While some who voted in favor of the budget surely agreed with the Board of Finance’s education budget cuts, but wouldn’t it be nice to know exactly how many residents were voting for a fourth-straight-year of education budget cuts because they felt those budgets needed to be slashed?

Wouldn’t it similarly be nice to know if residents voted in favor of a fourth-straight-year of educational budget cuts because they were worried an out-of-touch, aggressive Board of Finance would take a rejection of it’s presented budget, and cite a mandate for further cuts to the Redding education budget?

Most people on either side of this municipal debate should agree that such a question is necessary next year, regardless of who is sitting on the Board of Finance.

There is no reason to have a budget vote without such a addendum, unless the Board of Finance believes in opaque, best-guess government, rather than transparency.

(The same Board of Finance that is using $50,000 of taxpayer money to initiate an investigation of the Board of Education’s finances in the name of transparency.)

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  • Concerned Resident

    In this instance Bill Alvarez is wrong. You can tell this by the second question on the ballets concerning the 3% increase to the high school budget that also passed by a wide margin. Though, there were 5 more “No” votes on question 2 vs1. These votes are in direct contradiction to his statement that the town wants a lower education budget. If that was truly the case then the high school budget would have been voted down which it wasn’t. If you pay attention to all the votes you will see the town loves and cares about the education of all children and are getting upset at the board of finance for their perceived indifference to the majority of voters. People were afraid they would slash the school budget even more, as they said they would of the vote came back “No”. Look at the votes and you will see this same pattern for the past four years. This is why there were large crowds at the budget meetings pushing the BOF to keep the BOE budget as first presented.

  • Alex Gray

    Dear “Concerned Resident” (interesting need to remain anonymous), you have an interesting argument unfortunately, data to support it is missing making the argument and opinion or just a less than interesting story. The fact is that almost all school budget meetings are attended by 80% – 90% parents, representing their interests and not the interest of the entire community.

    In the absence of Natalie Ketcham, who controlled Redding through “Special Town Meetings” where she controlled Redding representation through miscommunications via The Redding Pilot, by scheduling then when most residents were out of town and by calling upon designated supporters to attend theses meetings, the only way to truly judge the community’s desire is through informing the residents and void of the tipical backroom politics.

    Unfortunately Redding doesn’t have a charter, which Redding should write and pass. A charter will allow Redding to put up for voting separate line items of the budget so that the Redding’s residents, who pay the taxes, can approve education spendings separate from the rest of Redding’s budget thereby elimination the imbalanced and determination of the parents who have been overwhelming the politics and expenses in Redding for decades. Or continue to spend and spend on the schools as they see fit however, that is the only way we could get actual facts about the true desires of the community. Anything short of that is just hot air … like the comment below a fact which is self-evident by the fact that the writer did not have the courage to write his/her name.

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