Board of Selectmen’s MBR promise left unfulfilled
Winsted has passed the three-month mark since its newest Board of Selectmen was elected last November, and one of the new regime’s most important promises to the community — fully funding the minimum budget requirement (MBR) for the town’s school system — has yet to be fulfilled.Ninety days is a long time to wait for a plan to address crucial funding for the current school year — and time is growing shorter each day. The school year ends in less than four months, and the system is still technically underfunded by $1.3 million. Where is the town going to find the money?As early as last December, members of the Board of Selectmen seemed certain they were putting together a plan with Town Manager Dale Martin to address the problem and offer a solution. Now, almost halfway through February, the Board of Selectmen just passed a motion to instruct Martin to begin “discussions” with Town Attorney Kevin Nelligan on how to address the problem. There also appears to be some confusion between Mayor Maryann Welcome and Martin as to when this process was supposed to have begun.It wasn’t too long ago that the MBR issue was at the top of everyone’s minds, but the new Board of Selectmen reassured members of the public that the problem would be resolved. The lack of action that has taken place in the last three months, coupled with town officials working from different playbooks, suggests Winsted taxpayers may be in for a rude awakening. A drastic cut to services could be on the horizon, or perhaps a supplemental tax bill — or both. The lack of movement on the MBR issue by the Board of Selectmen doesn’t mesh with the new Democratic majority’s message of “rebuilding community” in a productive and transparent way. Sadly, it suggests town officials aren’t working together to accomplish their stated goals, to the detriment of taxpayers.Selectmen are not expressing the required sense of urgency about the MBR issue as they kick this can down the road. Finding a way to finagle the numbers at the last minute will not be a good way to do business or to instill confidence in the town. The MBR issue should be high on the agenda at the next meeting, with some real answers offered on how to fix the problem.