No one *likes* this budget. There is so much that we should be doing:
- We should have small classrooms staffed by strong educators with the support staff, supplies and technology to do their jobs.
- We should enrich the school experience with sports and extracurriculars to support kids of different abilities.
- We should have more police officers and fire fighters to reduce overtime, fatigue and burn-out.
- We should have more Election staff as we head into a Presidential election with newly state-mandated “Early Voting”
- We should expand on the Attleboro Public Library’s efforts to encourage life-long learners of all ages and all abilities.
- We should do more to support our Veterans. They didn’t hesitate in supporting us.
- We should do more to support our elders who are living longer on fixed incomes in a tough economy
But Attleboro doesn’t have the money to do everything that we want to do, at the level we want to do it. There is a multitude of reasons that we are in this situation right now.
- The formula to determine State money for education has not kept up with expenses.
- We get new state-issued “mandates” every year, without funding.
- We have been supporting salaries with grant money that dries up.
- The State is $300 million short in revenue this year and will be up to $750 million short next year because the stock market didn’t follow last year’s curve
- And now the UK has decided to leave the European Union causing a tremendous slide in the stock market.
None of this is in our direct control. Despite all of that, Attleboro has done an admirable job of doing MORE with LESS.
We’ve seen School Committee presentations that show that the Attleboro Public School District out-performs districts with higher budgets than ours.
Similarly, we have a city administration outperforming comparable cities:
- Attleboro has turned brownfields into revenue-generating apartment buildings
- Attleboro has re-envisioned our transportation depot
- Attleboro is reclaiming the green space around our river
- Attleboro is getting a world-class athletic center that attracts professional sports teams interested in training our children.
- Our fireworks are donation-funded.
- Our waste management is second to none.
- And Attleboro just received a grant to preserve the oldest house in Attleboro and its surrounding lands for all to enjoy.
When I was pressed by members of my Elementary School’s PTO to “do my homework” about the Attleboro budget crisis, my research uncovered a city that funds improvements through grant money, from money outside of our tax levy. We would not be enjoying the Attleboro that we now see without those efforts.
I also found a whole legion of people leaning in and doing more with less.
- The Attleboro Public Library is reaching out to a broader spectrum of people
- The Elks are trying to buy a car to get Veterans to doctors appointments
- The Attleboro Area Council of Churches is feeding children who might go hungry over the summer without school lunches
- The Attleboro Youth Commission, Masons from the Ezekiel Bates Lodge, people from the Ten Mile River Watershed, and the Attleboro Land Trust all came together to clean up our river.
- The list goes on…
I knew that the teachers and school staff had been doing that for years. But in researching the city at large, my eyes were opened to everything that other departments and volunteers were doing around the city on budgets that were far smaller than I could ever have imagined. I have never been more proud of this city.
Do I want this budget? No, I don’t. I want it to be more. We all want it to be more.
I have talked to people all over this issue — teachers, parents, administrators, School Committee Members, City Councilors, the Mayor, the Treasurer our State Representative and what I now believe is this — EVERYONE has been trying their hardest.
I commend the work that each city department has done to try to work within our means. I commend the city councilors for trying to institute additional oversight. I believe we need to resolve this budget and move on. We need to turn our interest and attention towards making substantive changes so that we are not here again next year.
- We need to work together to support our teachers and other city departments in order to make up for the tough cuts that we’ve had to make to get here.
- We need to share what we have learned with other communities and school districts so that the Governor and Legislature start to listen.
- And we need to enact and support long-term plans to grow our tax base, because that is the only road to a long-term solution to this – growing local business and encouraging people to come here — to visit and to live.
I thank you for stopping by and hope you will contact us to help.