Waldoboro voters settled the municipal budget issues this week. As we know on the national level, one (or more) Tea Party voices can squelch governmental spending like a mouse in a trap. The same thing happened here in this idyllic mid-coast Maine village. Yes, even here.
The vote on November 5 was the third budget vote Waldoboro held this year after certain voices held up spending on the police department and finance and customer service budgets in June. A follow-up vote in September to “CR” a $106,000 reduction of anticipated state revenue sharing failed as well.
Waldoboro partially closed down. I never received my property tax assessment for 2014, for example. No furloughs, but we don’t have many employees either. Nonetheless, our town hit a budget bottleneck as sure as the U.S. government.
The big difference is that Waldoboro doesn’t have a House and Senate. We have a board of selectmen (as is, no women) and a budget committee. Most important, we have voters with a direct voice in governance. So when a rational proposal developed between the selectmen and the budget committee, voters could head to the Town Hall and be counted.
There were no close votes on any of the eight articles on the ballot. That’s right: 539 people beat out 288 to fund the Waldoboro Police Department with $586,884. And there was compromise — a $49,411 cut of a patrolman position.
With this vote, the town’s municipal budget for fiscal year 2013-2014 is $3,710,002. And, my tax bill is in the mail.
The lesson for Washington is simple: let the voters have more immediate say in the budget. The vast majority of citizens did not support the recent government shut down. If they could have cast a vote — it would have been a kick in the butt to restart.
As it happens, I’m now a consultant to the White House. I could tell the economists there a thing or two. But if my advice has nothing to do with editing or writing style, no one will listen. That’s the beauty of Waldoboro: People do listen.