At each Warren Select Board meeting, the board and the town administrator set up rows of chairs for members of the public. When the meeting begins the board’s chair, Andy Cunningham, asks for public comment.
Those chairs generally remain empty and Cunningham’s call is met with utter silence before the board moves onto the next agenda item.
On Tuesday, December 12, while most of The Valley’s residents were impatiently awaiting the first powder day of the season or hunkering down, two Warren residents showed up at the board’s meeting. Those two, Tim Seniff and Quayl Rewinski, ended up having a meaningful conversation with the entire board.
There were only two agenda items for the select board on Tuesday: meeting with members of the recreation district and budgeting. Members of the select board spoke about the additional $8,500 that the recreation district would like for mapping and signage and when board member Randy Graves explained that he was no longer comfortable making decisions solely as the select board and that he would like to put it on the Town Meeting agenda, they turned to Seniff and Rewinski.
Seniff said that he was not in support of the additional money and although most people, including some of the select board members, might believe that townspeople would be in support of the expenditure, Seniff said that he knew of 40 other people from business owners to residents that say they simply cannot handle any more taxation.
The issue is that our elected officials will not hear from them, while they will hear from those in favor of spending the money. The reasons why people do not speak up vary. Maybe they do not want to be marked as someone who doesn’t support children in The Valley or they might not want to be caught on an MRVTV camera. This is an issue that every single select board in The Valley faces.
Without input from the taxpayers, select board members have no way of anticipating what voters feel on the vast number of decisions they make.
Taxpayers, follow Seniff’s and Rewinski’s example. Let your select board officials know what you think and what your budgeting priorities are. It’s hard to make budgeting decisions in a vacuum.