Dwindling crowd approves $51M budget
By ANIKA CLARK
May 26, 2011 12:06 AM
WAREHAM — Wareham voters approved a $51.8 million budget Tuesday night, despite lacking a quorum for big-ticket fiscal items.
At 90-58, the vote was two shy of the 150-member quorum. But Moderator Claire Smith said it stood because, after 161 people continued the previous night's budget discussion over an hour earlier, no one called for another quorum count until after the vote had been tallied.
The bulk of the debate centered on the budget's reliance on a health insurance premium holiday, in fiscal 2012, as a seven-figure financial plug. The holiday, according to Town Administrator Mark Andrews, would last from four to six weeks and would save the town nearly $1.5 million.
Wareham is self-insured, so when premiums exceed the actual cost of care, the money is saved in a health care trust fund. That fund is managed by the town, which Andrews said carries the risk.
"The town has every right to do this," according to Andrews, citing feedback from the state Department of Revenue. A fact sheet provided to Town Meeting voters indicates that even after the $1,477,456 to be used during the holiday is applied to the fiscal 2012 budget and about $945,000 in trust money is held as an estimated three-month buffer, another $905,000 would remain in the trust. "This would buy us a year to be intentional about cuts," said proponent Selectman Ellen Begley.
Bob Brousseau warned of a slippery slope. The money has been "set aside for employee benefits and health care," Brousseau said. "Once you do this, the horse is out of the stable."
Selectman Cara Winslow similarly said she was worried about precedent and said the town needs to deal with underlying budget issues that aren't going away.
"At some point, we have got to be realistic about what we're faced with," she said at a meeting of the Board of Selectmen earlier Tuesday night. While the town has found ways to shore up its budget before, "the end of that road is coming and we're at the edge of a cliff."
Bruce Sauvageau said he thinks turning to the health care trust fund would be unethical. "We are robbing Peter to pay for Paul," he said.
Tom Monaghan took a different tack. "Peter's bleeding. Paul still has his triage," Monaghan said. "The horse needs to come out of the stable and get some exercise."
As passed, the budget article calls for raising and appropriating $31.5 million and transferring $14.5 million from cherry sheet aid and offsets, $5.5 million from estimated local receipts and reimbursements and $182,600 from available funds. An additional $152,000 would be transferred from receipts from the sale of real estate to debt and interest.
Town meeting continues next Tuesday at 7 p.m. in the Wareham High School auditorium.
Why We Have This Problem Is Voter Apathy, The Good Citzens Of Wareham Work Hard At There Jobs , And They Come To Town Meeting And Vote Against Say Westfield 2 Times And The Losers Of Wareham Bring It Back 3 Times ,you Just Get Tired Of The Same Old Crap, So You Stay Home Like I Do And Say This Town Will Go To The Crapper And Go Over The Cliff And Then And Only Then Can We Right The Ship Of Wareham, I Am Sick And Tired Of These Losers Saying Years Ago Go We Mispent ,bull I Say We Always Had The Money. We Did Not Spend Money Foolisly ,all Depts Were Filled Not Like Now Where Several Depts Are Left Unfilled . Where We Have A Police Chief Makeing Te Highest Money In The State And Where We Have A Council On Ageing Director And Now A Social Services Director Makeing Big Money. The Council On Ageing Is The Brain Washing Directorate Of Move Wareham Backward ,where You Are Educated To Vote The Way Of Move Wareham Backward. Where You Are Selected To Work For Your Taxes Off And Get A Town Job Like Working At The Beaches And We Cut Muncipal Maintence. Its All About Show Folling The Town Eloctorate As Wareham (rome ) Burns To The Ground , And Allthese Losers Can Say Is It Happened With Previous Boards Of Selectmen, , Well Previous Boards Did Not Conduct Witch Hunts (computor Adudits) Like These Clowns Did.
People of Wareham, if dipping into the health care trust fund is so awful that even Sweet Brucey and his lackey Bobo recognize it as a bad idea, then you know it's a bad idea.
And those two never met a bad idea that they didn't like.
Last edited by GuyIncognito (2011-05-26 08:39:07)
Unethical but legal was what Brucey called it..sounds like Jane's " its only illegal if you get caught!..do these folks realize they are setting this Town up for failure?..again, when the snake-oil salesman is long gone (not soon enough) we'll be dealing with this mess for years to come..