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Author Topic: Call to Action  (Read 847 times)
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« on: November 30, 2009, 01:56:26 PM »

From the Londonderry Times editorial page

Call to Action

By the time you read this, you're probably hard at work on your holiday list. Gifts? Help for those less fortunate? Holiday dinners and New Year's Eve parties? Maybe a brief vacation when the kids are out of school?

Those certainly are December thoughts, but there's something else to put on your December to-do list.

Town and school district budgets.

Not as exciting as deciding what decorations to put up or what cookies to bake, but important nonetheless. After all, democracy, like parenthood, doesn't offer vacations. You may be tired, work may be a mental and physical drain and family needs may be consuming, but you don't get a break. The 2010 elections will be here before we know it, and we all need to do our homework well in advance.

Whether budgets come up for approval in March or May, they don't just drop out of the sky in one piece. And citizens have the right - indeed, the duty - to tell their elected officials what they consider important for inclusion in the budget, and what can be held out, considering the difficulty most people have these days in finding the money to pay their taxes.

All of our towns and school districts are debating budget pros and cons already, whether it's cost-of-living increases (or none), new buildings (or staying put), new services, or - rarely - new ways of doing things that could include cutting back on services or changing how they are provided.

Do you like what you see in your tax bill? Do you like the way your roads are taken care of and your kids are educated? Are employee contracts realistic in light of the current economy? Is economic development a catchphrase, or is a goal-focused plan available? We hear a lot about making sure employees are paid well and have strong benefit packages, so we don't lose them to better-paying jobs. In today's world, those better-paying jobs just aren't there, but we're still beefing up town salaries.

So it's time to advocate for budgets that stick with vital services and save the frills for a better day. But if you don't start letting your elected officials know how you feel right now, you'll miss out on the opportunity. By the time the budgets hit Deliberative Session, much of the work has already been done.

This year, we encourage you to get involved and have your say right now, when change is more likely.

December brings more than the sound of Santa's reindeer. Democracy is calling. We urge you to make your voices heard.

Glenn Douglas
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