This week a Warren resident expressed his dissatisfaction with the Warren Select Board and its budgeting process. This resident suggested that the town had been less than transparent about the process and that the board offered up reasoning that was untrue and that the board was not welcoming of public input.
We disagree. The Valley Reporter covers the Warren Select Board and all the local select boards and the school board with a keen eye to budgets and budgeting.
We haven’t seen any mis or malfeasance, obfuscation, obstructionism or any attempt to thwart public participation. But don’t take our word for it! These meetings are also filmed and aired on Mad River Valley Television in a gavel-to-gavel format.
One of the issues raised by this resident is that the Warren Select Board chair misspoke and when asked about it said via email, “I can own that mistake.” That’s not trying to mislead the public, that’s acting like a responsible adult and leader and acknowledging a mistake.
Spending public money is a critical function of government, second only to keeping us safe. Budget meetings are conducted openly, the documents are either part of a select board packet or agenda or can be found on a town’s website. In addition to Valley Reporter and Mad River Valley Television coverage, minutes are taken and posted on town websites.
And to what end would local select boards want to try and hide their budgeting work or reasoning? Board members are taxpayers too. They are affected by their work to the same extent all of us are.
Public service is challenging enough as it is without unwarranted attacks questioning the integrity and motives of elected officials. We’re all for open government. We’re all for taxpayers paying attention and holding elected officials accountable for their actions, and we really love it when there is a room (digital these days) full of people wanting to engage with town officials on budgets, Town Plans, mask mandates, sidewalks, etc. And those officials love it too. This pandemic is hard enough without giving people the benefit of the doubt and being respectful when engaging.