Next thing you know, it's June
Remember when I used to blog? If it weren't for my frequent presence on Channel 17, you might think I'd disappeared entirely.
The thing is, I am dealing with Town stuff all the time: pre-meeting stuff, post-meeting stuff, attending other meetings, dealing with issues, going to events. So when I have some free time, writing about all this is not high on my list. But how did I lose the whole month of May? Life is a blur right now.
I hope I'll do a comprehensive post describing the state of the budget situation, but this is not that post. So here are some odds and ends:
• Breaking news: Tonight I received an e-mail that the mythical parade banner has been located. People always talk about it, but no one knew where it was - in fact, not everyone was sure it had ever actually existed. This is good news indeed, as the Hadley 350th parade is coming up June 14th, and they were gonna wonder about this group of anonymous interlopers.
• Speaking of parades, I had the privilege of being part of the Memorial Day Parade last week. A funny moment was when we went by a person I know through delivering meals-on-wheels (though she's not on my route) and I could tell by the look on her face that she was thinking "What the heck is SHE doing in the parade?" Some people only know me as the lunch lady.
• Oh, and that other parade: Yes, I know I meant to follow up on the long and interesting July 4th comments, but that topic wears me out. Nutshell: we've got a month. I am still hoping the firefighters and the town equipment will be there. Stay tuned.
• I have spent every non-holiday Monday morning for more than a year doing "office hours" at the Black Sheep. Yet owner Nick Seamon decided that the best way to raise his concerns about the parking restrictions and street closure for the 250th picnic was in a letter to the Bulletin and by complaining during SB public comment. Maybe I'm invisible?
• The SB has decided to meet twice in July and twice in August (with a possible third meeting 8/31 - scheduling gets a little weird then because of Labor Day.) If this is successful and productive, I hope we might carry a bi-weekly schedule into the fall and beyond. We'll see how that goes. Of course, we met Monday after having last week off, and it was probably my most-clumsily chaired meeting yet, so maybe I need weekly meetings to keep my "skills" up. Nah.
• My weird, er, clever husband has turned the Town Meeting warrant into a word design again. Available on t-shirts, mugs and more from CafePress. Still time to get yours before TM resumes on the 15th.
• I'm finding that Facebook is just enough to satisfy my low-intensity blogging urges (SB stuff here, pet pix and what I ate for lunch there,) so that got me thinking: maybe I should add a Twitter feed to this site. Surely I could stay more timely with 140-character posts. But then I realized it would be a long series of: "is at a meeting." "is at another meeting." "is leaving this meeting to go to my next meeting." So never mind.
• Last night, for the first time since I started attending SB meetings a couple years ago, I FORGOT to turn on my little digital voice recorder. Don't know what happened, but I didn't realize it until about 45 minutes in, during the Town Manager's report. That was bad enough, but I very nearly made it worse by uttering a naughty word when I noticed it. Swearing on TV = to be avoided. I may have to record the audio of that part from the ACTV streaming video, just so there are no holes in my archive, but that might be a little too obsessive. (Too obsessive? Moi?)
• Finishing on a serious note: our budget situation is terrible. We are $6.9 million dollars short of level services from FY09 - what it would cost next year (beginning 7/1) to fund everything we are currently funding this year. That shortfall is equal to more than 10% of our budget. This means tough cuts, using money from reserves, and pursuing every possible option for new revenue. (Lots of nitty-gritty detail here.) The Massachusetts Senate and House are working to reconcile their respective State budget proposals, which are devastating to aid for cities and towns. (Did you know that the Senate version has only allocated a pittance of the proposed sales tax increase to local aid? You might have thought the sales tax hike was going to "solve" our problems, but so far, no.) This is why the local option taxes for meals and lodging are so crucial - they help to take our revenue fate out of the hands of the State, and let us decide as a community if these taxes are appropriate for us. (And they are! The meals tax in particular would allow us to reap some tax benefit from all those denizens of our vast non-taxable land supply - students.) The local option taxes don't come close to solving this year's budget gap, but: a) without them, we will have to cut more; b) it is an important tool to have going forward. Please contact our local legislators - Senator Stan Rosenberg and Representative Ellen Story - and let them know that you urge their strong support for these local option taxes.
As always, thanks for checking in, and for paying attention.