2008-12-18 / Editorial


Level funding for next town, school budgets

Everywhere one turns these days, the future appears grim. Our national economy is in dire straits. Folks are waiting for the new president to take office in hopes that he can make things right again. But it will take more than one person. We'll all have to participate.

The prevailing wisdom is that we can save the economy by spending more. We started with the federal bailouts for the big banks. For the record, if a company is considered too big to fail, then maybe it is just too big. Mandatory down-sizing of these massive banks should be part of the federal plan.

The big three automakers say they will collapse without a taxpayer-funded cash infusion. We've got to spend more to save these businesses, too.

Meanwhile, jobs vanish daily and our nation's unemployed ranks are swelling. Small businesses, which are the nation's largest employer, need help. Unfortunately, though, they are not too big to fail.

The Rhode Island state government reports it has a $450 million budget shortfall.

Meanwhile, the economists tell us these are the toughest times since the Great Depression. We could see worse, they say, because we haven't yet hit bottom. The recovery will be a long and rocky road. Economic forecasting is an occupation that is somewhat like weather forecasting — one gets paid to be wrong about half the time.

Here in Jamestown we heard stories about our fellow islanders who are experiencing financial diffi culties. Clearly, people are worried about the future. So this is a good time to consider level funding for the 2009-2010 town and school budgets. That means a 0 percent property tax increase. Unlike the federal government, we can't print more money.

We can assume the small trickle of state funds Jamestown has received in the past will disappear in the next budget cycle. Let's figure out how we can do without state money and not raise local taxes.

To be fair, our Town Council and School Commitee have kept their respective budgets fairly austere. So making level funding work will be a tough job for our elected officials and the town employees.

We can help our island schools trim expenses by encouraging our legislators to roll back the numerous state education mandates which are so costly. Now is the time have a talk with our state senator and state representative.

— Jeff McDonough

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