Suzi Newman–Wellesley Townsman February 25, 2016
As a Town Meeting Member, I voted against the Town Manager proposal as it seemed unfair to remove budgeting from any board’s authority. To suggest that boards would still be permitted to decide policies and initiatives seemed to ignore the fact that most policies and initiatives require a thorough grounding in budget details to be implemented.
With my own experience on School Committee for 9 years, I initially concluded that at least most of this proposal would not affect the school budgeting process as state laws required School Committees to retain responsibility for their own budget. However, I see two significant changes. First, the Superintendent of Schools-not the School Committee Chair- will now present the budget to Town Meeting . Second, in the late stages of budget preparation when estimates become more realized, it seems the Town Manager and Superintendent will negotiate final adjustments. The more the boards are removed or left out of decisions, the less public input will be a factor. It seems the lengthy and sometimes cumbersome process of public input to proposed cuts or adjustments may be cut short in a rush to efficiency and centralization.