Our town manager
responds by saying:
I recognize that these email groups, along with other
forums will be discussing various policy and program
decisions the Town has to make over the next few months.
I think that discussion is helpful. We certainly
need to reduce our costs and therefore our services so any
consensus on what we can do without is helpful.
The parochial school busing issue is one that is required
by state law. We can not opt out of that if we
want to, so that is a dead issue.
The snow plowing of churches is a most interesting issue.
It is no doubt costly, we can not even quantify it in $$$
very easily, but it is something that we have discussed for
a while now. The Town has provided this service
for many years, as long as I can remember.
I have been quick to discontinue many practices that have
happened here that appear to be not reasonable.
I am not quick to do things because we have always done
it if they appear incorrect. However, I will plead
guilty in this case, but with some good reason.
This issue has been discussed at Town Meeting several
times, be it through resolutions or motions to reduce
money to reflect the cost. Town Meeting has always
decided to leave it alone. Likely the time
has come to reexamine this policy, and likely we should
discontinue it. Internally we have been trying to
quantify it so we can produce intelligent data to discuss,
as it has become an operational burden for us this winter.
Clearly we are not going to stop it today, as that would
not be fair, next winter may be reasonable.
I think everyone should be aware however, that there is a
substantial amount of support for it within the Town,
it may be waning, but it is there. There is some
precedent for discontinuation, last year I found that
many churches were receiving trash collection, which is
against our policy and we did stop that. There was
no objection, they understood.
In terms of plowing it will not save actually $$$ in the
appropriation, but it will stretch our budget.
We don't appropriate an overly generous amount anyway, and
if we decrease it we lose our statutory right to deficit
spend. Snowplowing is the only account we can do this