Friday, April 24, 2015

Town Council Quashes Opposition on Lisbon's Budget


At the last Town Council meeting, the Council had the first reading to “repeal” the Finance Committee.  During Audience Participation, I voiced my concerns about the people losing more and more rights to be involved with local government and the loss of checks and balances in our democratic form of government.  The Charter Commission felt it was vital to have an elected Budget Advisory Board to provide more eyes on the Municipal budget.  The previous Town Council decided to eliminate the elected Budget Advisory Board and form the Finance Committee.  This committee was filled with five former Councilors and two additional members all appointed by the Council at the time.  These former Councilors of the newly appointed Finance Committee were the ones responsible for the financial situation the town is in.

Chairman Pesce stated that the reason they current Council wanted to do away with the Finance Committee are because it was advisory only and that it was ineffective.  The reason it was ineffective is because there was no leadership in charge and these former Councilors did not want anyone to know how they had placed the town is such a vulnerable situation.  

In order to have an efficient Finance Committee, the committee should be made up of three members selected by the School Board and three members selected by the Town Council with the Chair being changed every year between the School Board and the Town Council.  This can be accomplished by selecting members upon resignations.  When a committee is selected these individuals should have some familiarity with budgeting, knowledge of the needs of their respective entity and most of all a fresh perspective of what is best for the community.  It is essential these individuals have a diverse background to enable a fresh outlook on all financial matters.  Selecting individuals with the same qualifications only provides a narrow minded approach to a problem; diversity will provide a wiser solution.

Repealing the Finance Committee is not the right answer because it eliminates the checks and balances necessary to maintain a democratic form of local government.   It also eliminates the rights of the people to be involved which are part of the Town’s Mission Statement.  Repealing will change the makeup of our local government from a democracy to tyrannical. 

There was mention of forming a sub-committee.  This action will take valuable time and waste a great deal of time.  The Finance Committee responsibilities are already been established and outlined in Ordinance – Ch. 2 Administration Div. 2 Finance Committee so why do we need to redo it.  No one has ever challenged the responsibilities so what are we really trying to do.

Once the former members of the Council resigned and the town had four additional candidates to replace them; the Finance Committee could function.  How successful the committee would have been; we will never know.  It was never given a chance.  Shame on the Town Council!

Call your Councilors and tell them NOT to repeal the Finance Committee and approve the candidates they had.

Larry Fillmore