A Necessary Vote of Confidence – Lauren Santos
At the recent pubic hearing on the town and education budgets, the tone was sober, realistic, and civil. Clinton’s fiscal dilemma has no easy resolution. Cutbacks in Education Cost Sharing funds from the state and expected grant reductions are real and severe. Contractually binding benefits, wage obligations, and debt service account almost entirely for budget increases. The town is shackled by its central abandoned properties, Ponds, Morgan, and soon CVS. Whether past ineptitude, bad fortune, or simple greed is to blame, this blight can only diminish real estate values and town wealth.
Resolution depends on effective economic development planning and skilled leadership. Clinton’s core assets—its public education, its quality waterfront, its highly regarded fire and emergency services, its capable public works, and nationally recognized public library—are critical to the town’s attractiveness to new residents and commerce. Unfortunately, the contending reality is a higher mill rate threatens most middle- and fixed-income residents.
Clinton has responded with the recent election of a skilled and committed Board of Selectmen and by boards and commissions with new talent. Town and education budgets have already been cut and public works services are spare. Essential new monies to the Economic Development Commission were cut in half. Plans to reduce educational costs, including future closure of the Pierson School, are in process. Thoughtful austerity and development make for a formidable challenge. The next choice involves preservation of essential revenue for Clinton’s maintenance and growth.
There are no good choices, but only one acceptable choice. I encourage your readers to vote “Yes” to pass both budgets.
There are solutions for the medium and long term. A “Yes” vote is a necessary vote of confidence in the town’s future and its newly elected representatives.
Laurie Santos (D) serves as an alternate on the Board of Finance.