Autumn in the North Cemetery.

Sixty miles west of Boston, Massachusetts there is the small New England town of Sturbridge. Located at the junction of I-90 (The Mass Pike), and I-84 it has become known as the "Crossroads of New England". The town was first settled over 300 years ago, and like other small New England towns it has grown just enough over the years to be in a difficult place today. How do we embrace the future without forgetting how we got to our present? How do we attract the right kind of growth, and maintain who we are? And, what about our culture out here in Central Massachusetts?

These pages will cause one to think about how to protect what we have, our future direction, and how to move on in the very best way.

Those thoughts, and other ramblings, will hopefully inspire more thought, conversation, action, and occasionally a smile...

...seems to be working so far

Friday, May 18, 2012

Another Voice: Vote Carefully At Town Meeting In June

Submitted by Barbara A. Search  for  "Another Voice"--ed.

Letter to the Editor

The Sturbridge 2013 Finance Committee Report is available online.  The hard copy won’t be available for another week.  The Annual Town Meeting is June 4 leaving little time for residents to review the budget, ask questions, and get answers before the meeting.
On page iv of the Report the Finance Committee creates an extreme cost cutting scenario that totally eliminates the Council on Aging (COA) and Recreation budgets and reduces the Library operating salaries/wages budget by 20%, among other budget cuts, if the article to level fund the 2013 budget is approved.  The Finance Committee calls this self-fulfilling approach a “nightmare budget” that will jeopardize the Town’s credit rating, disproportionately increase future taxes, and lower property values – all unrealistic and speculative outcomes. One hopes FinCom’s leadership over the years has not created such a fragile budget that one or two years of belt tightening will put the Town on the brink of destruction.
The Sturbridge Finance Committee is using typical scare tactics to suggest budget cuts that would eliminate the least costly, best value for the dollar, services a town has to offer its citizens. As a former Council on Aging Director, I speak from experience when I say the services offered by the Sturbridge COA are essential to the health, well-being, and financial stability of many Sturbridge senior citizens.  Senior fun and parties make the headlines but serious work is done behind the headlines through one-on-one contact and counseling with at-risk seniors.  Contrary to what some people think Sturbridge has its share of at-risk seniors who have difficulty buying groceries, paying heating costs, and paying real estate taxes. The value of COA services far exceeds the cost of providing them.
Speaking without the hyperbole employed by FinCom in their attempt to evoke fear among residents, I suggest there are several articles and budget items in the warrant for the upcoming Annual Town Meeting, if voted down, will result in cost savings without a reduction in services.
We are often reminded that the citizens are the legislative body of government and that we, the citizens, vote for all the budget expenditures.  While we have the responsibility to vote wisely, the town leaders have the responsibility to provide timely, thorough, accurate, and unbiased information that will enable the citizens to make smart choices.
Remember to attend the Annual Town Meeting on June 4 at 7 p.m. at Tantasqua Regional High School, ask questions, challenge those in power, and vote carefully.
Barbara A. Search


  1. Who's the Boogie Man?Friday, May 18, 2012

    I don't know anyone who got a close to 5% raise this year, yet our property taxes are going to go up that much if we don't vote to prevent it from happening at the June 4th Town Meeting.
    It's totally unfair to hear the powers that be using scare tactics threatening to take funding from programs for our most vulnerable citizens. In our own private lives we protect the most vulnerable in our families, and cut back in other areas when necessary. As a town we should do the same.

  2. Who's kidding whoSaturday, May 19, 2012

    Boogie man's right, the fincom should be ashamed of itself. They all need to be replaced. It's not all the powers though. The BoS chairman sent an email to residents saying he didn't agree with the fincom's report. Don't know about the rest of the BoS, they just sit there likes bumps on a log.

  3. Yes, they sit there unless it has to do with someone who lives on their own street. Or building multimillion dollar recreation fields - Mary Dowling is quoted as saying taxpayers should pay for those fields, now, in the middle of a down economy with seniors and everyone else struggling. Does she even live in the real world? She seems completely out of touch.

    I am so sick and tired of the scare tactics, the selfishness, and the inaccurate information that's put out there by many of the town's leaders.

    Mary Redetzke and Tom Creamer did a meet the selectmen coffee hour and several citizens showed up; some had complaints, some had ideas, and some just wanted to talk about the budget. However, Mary Dowling and Mary Blanchard poopoo'd it, and Dowling even brought up the possibility of violating open meeting law.

    If there's anyone that knows open meeting law, it's Tom Creamer. Just once it would be nice if Mary Dowling stopped believing she's smarter than everyone else.

  4. If anyone reading this blog does not currently attend town meeting, which is where all the decisions are made with regard to spending and borrowing, which directly affects our tax rate, then please consider watching local cable access channel 11 for a primer on town meeting.

    Currently, Sturbridge is airing a really great program about the ins and outs of town meeting, created by town leaders of Stow, MA. It covers everything you need to know about town meeting, from A to Z. As one who went to my first town meeting on a lark some 20-something years ago, since that first one, I've only missed one.

    I can empathize with the long work day preceding the meeting, the long evening until the meeting ends, and the next morning when you may be tired because you got to bed later than you would have liked. Drink a coffee or a red zinger tea - but please, come and vote.

    We, the people, need you, the people, participating in town government decisions. With more participation, things can get better but you are needed to help it along.


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