Wednesday, September 9, 2015

WHERE IS LISBON’S LEADERSHIP -- by Larry Fillmore

At last night’s Special Town Council workshop with the School Board to discuss the School Budget.  The first think that I found odd was the fact that this was the first meeting of the Town Council and the School Board.  There have been two elections and the amended budget by the Council has been defeated twice because the people thought it was too low.  On September 22, 2015, there will be yet another election on the School Budget and nothing has changed.  I anticipate the results will be the same.
As the leaders of the town, the Town Council should have been taking the initiative to resolve the differences between the Council and the School Budget.  Councilor Lunt asked Chairman Pesce how the Council arrived at the $600,000.00 mandatory cut for the School Budget.  Councilor Metivier asked Chairman Pesce if he could answer the question.  According to Councilor Metivier, the Municipal budget was forced to cut $300,000.00 and the School Budget is twice as large as the Municipal Budget so the number of $600,000.00 was directed.
Good leaders/managers are aware that before you make significant cuts in any budget, it is essential you know the impact of those cuts.  Just because on paper one budget is twice the size of another the impact will not be the same.  Councilor Metivier has no clue the impact on the $600,000.00 directed cuts.  It was obvious by the questions he asked the School Board.  Councilor Metivier asked why the School Board did not eliminate Adult Education.  First the students pay a portion of the cost and the state subsidizes some of the cost.  Graduates of this program become assets to this community and strengthen our town.  Cutting programs that strengthen our community should never be done because they are the future of Lisbon. 

Another statement made by Councilor Metivier was why are we transporting High School students?  Well, the buses go right by these students daily so why not pick them up if we are going the same way.  Also, the few that are out of the normal routes would not impact the budget a great deal.  This cost savings relieve working parent from having to worry about getting their children to school.  This impact allows working parents to work longer and make money to pay their taxes.

This figure of $600,000.00 was directed by the Council with no idea of the impact to the budget, families or the community.  This has proven to be a mistake that has created a mess.  Leaders/Managers must make decisions with knowledge of the impact to this community.  If the Town Council had utilized good sound management strategy, the town would not be in the current situation.  Had the Council had a clue of the impact prior to the directive, the School Budget would not be sucking $3,000.00 per election of taxpayers’ dollars.   

Another example of wasting money by the Council is when they determined that the people’s petition for a Special Town meeting was insufficient.  Had the petition been approved the Special Town meeting would had resolved the differences between the School Budget submitted by the School Board and the amended figures by the Town Council.  The results of the Special Town meeting could have been placed on the ballet in June and the town could have voted on these figures.  Holding a Special Town meeting after the people vote on amended budget does nothing to resolve the issue and according to Maine law we have to continue the process until the people pass the School Budget.  We are witness to this because we are now on our third election.  If the Town Council had allowed the Special Town meeting prior to the election; the School Budget probably would have passed the first time but it would not have cut $600,000.00.

As it stands right now, the losers here are the students and the taxpayers who have to pay tax dollars for this excess process.

Larry Fillmore