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Democratic selectmen support budget

We would like to take this opportunity to share a few thoughts regarding our town’s imminent budget and the beginning of what we see as Winsted’s renaissance. We want to start by thanking our town manager and finance director who have been working tirelessly on the town’s behalf to negotiate both the municipal and the educational sides of our budget. Over the past few months, our board of finance has worked hard and been committed to being fiscally responsible and transparent, realistic with expenses and conservative with revenue projections due to our economic climate, ensuring that our town continues to propel it’s way forward. 

The education side has been an emotive topic within our community and while transition and change are never easy. Collectively as a community we must focus on restructuring and rebuilding our school system. 

We are not alone in believing that providing an education is the single most important thing we can do to help our community’s children to succeed. It is also the single most important thing that we as a community can do to boost the long term success of Winsted. Communities with strong school systems thrive and that has been proven time and time again. This is not the time to look for ways to cut the educational budget. Instead we should begin as we mean to go forward.

It is clear that Gilbert will remain our community high school and that Gilbert is indeed woven into the tapestry of Winsted’s identity. What may not be fully understood is the need to whole heartedly support the efforts to reorganize and restructure our pre-K through sixth-grade system as well as strengthening our foundation, because without a strong foundation we do not serve our community properly and we do a disservice to Gilbert or any other secondary school our students might attend by not providing this proper foundation.

We also must support the creation of programming for transitional students in the age bracket of 18 to 21 years old. Instead of outsourcing these students, we must stand in solidarity to create the kind of community that can sustain itself, a community that we can be proud of.

We continue to strengthen our financial position. Our financial department has grown stronger due to performance monitoring and oversight of the municipal and education budgets. Accountability through regular cash projections and projections of expenditure rates has kept our fund balance strong. Our town manager has successfully negotiated with the state to contain the financial burden on the town as a result of the school’s deficit in fiscal 2015-16 as well as the special education repayments. Our town manager also preemptively budgeted for the state cuts which would have impacted our town. We have prudently used our saved resources to fund roads and close Hinsdale School.

Our town has plenty to be proud of. Yankee Magazine has chosen Whiting Mills as best artists’ community and the American Museum of Tort Law as best new museum. The American Mural Project will be breaking ground soon and there are talks with developers regarding the mill buildings. Best Principal of the Year has been awarded to Gilbert’s own Alan Strauss and Gilbert has ranked nationally with a silver medal status. Our community college continues to blossom and our trails group is working diligently to add to our already enviable resources. Anyone who attended the Rotary Club’s 80th Pet Parade over the weekend would have come away feeling that our town is pretty special. 

Sometimes good news is good news. The sky is not falling this year. Instead we as a town are beginning to see the fruition of our labor and more importantly, we are at a pivotal point, having developed a forward moving momentum which we must capitalize on. This proposed budget endeavors to address the needs of our children, increases safety in our community, and begins to undertake the issues of our long term infrastructure needs. We believe the budget is a bipartisan document representing a continuation of community collaboration for the common good. One could argue that the most ethical document in our community is our budget because it reflects what we as a community are willing to invest in. 

Vote “yes” for a safe community, for education, for infrastructure, and vote “yes” if you believe in Winsted.

 

Submitted by Winsted Board of Selectmen members Candy Perez, Melissa Bird, Steve Sedlack, Brian Shaughnessy and Jack Bourque.