2010-06-03 / Editorial

Islanders should attend the FTM

It has been nearly 20 years since we’ve seen this level of interest in the annual Financial Town Meeting. So few people have attended the FTM in recent years that there was discussion of doing away with the oncea year gathering of registered island voters to approve the budgets that are presented by the Jamestown Town Council and the Jamestown School Committee.

That will not be the case this year. People are talking about the FTM and the proposed warrants. Hopefully, people will show up to be counted.

The 2010 FTM is scheduled for 7 p.m. on Monday, June 7, at the Lawn Avenue School. This is one year that I recommend that every Jamestown voter attend. The upcoming FTM could prove to be a lively evening – filled with debate – as an unprecedented number of warrants have been presented for consideration.

Please remember that civility is of utmost importance Monday evening. I urge people to exercise restraint at the FTM and behave themselves. No namecalling, jeering, booing or hissing. All islanders should respect each others’ opinions, even if they disagree.

The Town Moderator should order removed those folks who are disruptive at the meeting.

The Jamestown Fire Marshal reports that extra fire department personnel will be on hand Monday evening to assist with crowd control. The fire marshal encourages everyone to attend the FTM and says that all voters will be able to participate if they show up. No one will be turned away.

On Monday, voters will be asked to approve budgets presented by the Town Council and the School Committee. These elected officials have spent endless hours drafting these spending plans, which are nofrills proposals. We know that the state legislature has decreased funding to Jamestown. The budgets that will be presented to the voters represent a slight property tax increase, yet well under the cap as permitted by state law.

We’ve heard lots of debate over whether Jamestown should continue to fund an animal control officer. People are passionate about this topic; just look at all the yard signs about town. The animal control position appears to be one of those luxuries that the town can do without. A less expensive option, as proposed, would be to have North Kingstown provide animal control services on a per-call basis. Jamestown will save a substantial amount of money by only paying for the service as needed.

Several of the warrants to be presented at the FTM call for funding cuts at the Jamestown Philomenian Library. The island’s public library is probably the most-used facility in Jamestown. These funding cuts make no sense. The library already operates on a bare bones budget and often relies upon donations to make ends meet. The funding cuts outlined in the proposed warrants could lead to a loss of some services at the library and a possible reduction in the number of hours that the library is open.

Voters may also be confused over a warrant that asks that the town build two wind turbines instead of one. This warrant has me confused. The Town Council spent a lot of time discussing its wind turbine options at Ft. Getty and at Taylor Point. I recall that the council was concerned about building a Ft. Getty wind turbine due to increased costs. There was some doubt as to whether the town would break even financially on the venture. The council decided that building one wind turbine at Taylor Point makes the most sense at the moment. I have to agree with the council on this one. The town can build additional wind turbines in future years – if the Taylor Point wind turbine proves successful.

Everyone is entitled to their opinions. You’ll read many other views on the pages of this newspaper. Be sure to attend the FTM at the Lawn Avenue School on Monday evening. Everyone will be given a chance to speak.

This FTM is important. We will see you there!

— Jeff McDonough

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