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Joyce Endee

Budget committee debate goes out like a lamb

March 17, 2010
NORTHUMBERLAND — After weeks of heated discussion jabbing at the budget committee the town has spoken to keep the extra sets of money conscious eyes and the town budget to boot.

"The role of the committee is to look at the big picture and we need people looking at the big picture," said Committee Member Michael Phillips after the vote.

It was clear that the fate of the town budget committee was on the forefront of many a mind as the meeting started with the majority moving Article 18 to first in the line for discussion. The petitioned article asks for the town to decide if the budget committee that has been in effect for two years now to be disbanded. After a ballot vote Article 18 was defeated with 104 votes to disband and 127 to keep it.

"We had this vote a year ago and I notice the number of young people here tonight and think that it would be a terrible civics lesson if we're gonna say here's a bunch of people that the townspeople has asked to speak for us and we disagree with them," said Dave Roberts. "They speak for people that otherwise might no have a voice and I think it's important we support them."

The discussion before the vote was one of the more interesting that occurred that night especially when the town later approved, through majority hand raise, the town operating budget of $1,789,377, not amended from the budget committees initial $100,000 recommended cut.

Some in the crowd simply did not like having the budget in the position to be diced up beyond voter repair. The committee can technically cut the budget as low as it wants, but voters only bring it back up by 10 percent from where it falls.

"If they cut the budget by more then 10 percent your voice doesn't matter," said Terry Bedell, "If they cut the budget by 20 percent then your vote basically means half of it.

Mike Cloutier felt that the committee was just an unnecessary step in the bureaucratic ladder. "To me it's just another layer," he said.

After the results were announced that the committee would not be disbanded there was raucous applause that came from a large section of the gymnasium where many older members of the community were seated.

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