2008 has been a year of massive global economic change and also many changes
in our town government. Our building inspector of 36 years retired in May, and we have a new Fire Chief ( and a new fire truck). We also have one new affordable rental unit to be rented to a qualified family by lottery to be held in January, a new position of administrator of the Zoning Board of Appeals, and a new administrative officer for the Conservation Commission.
It is my hope that as a town, Weston will think about the many projects
currently in the pipeline: the construction of a new DPW at $17
million, formulation of a restaurant at the Josiah Smith Tavern projected
to cost $7 million, the acquisition of the Case Estate Land from Harvard
at $22 million, and the possible reconstruction or new construction of Field
School at over $30 million. It would be nice if we could also keep the tax rate ( which
increased from 10.67 to 11.02 dollars per $1000 ) steady and maintain our overall operating budget
(which was approx. $55 million in 2008) in the year to come.
Although it is likely that revenue for the town generated by new growth
will decrease because the number of building permits issued has dropped, higher property taxes might not be the best option. We should also consider ways of generating
additional non-property-tax revenue. Our local budget challenges are unique to Weston.
Weston is is diverse economic community in that its residents make a
living in many different sectors of our global economy. What Weston
residents all have in common is a strong commitment to education in our
public schools. The financial pressures that we will experience as a town
in the coming year will be great.
I am optimistic that we can find a balance in regulation and taxation that
allows Weston citizens to come through these unprecedented times with
strong respect for our town, its governance, and its efficiency in budget
balancing. We will need to work together in spending less and generating
more non property tax revenue so that we are well poised for the future.