Finance committees do enough
To the Editor:
If the purpose of your editorial [A job finance committees ought to do, May 17] was to rouse old FinCom veterans, you succeeded with me. The town FinCom is a very hardworking group, and much of their work is not really visible. They meet often throughout the year and especially during the dark late winter months leading up to town meetings and the finalizing of the warrant.
The FinCom will usually provide guidance to town budget units as an initial background for controlling and prioritizing town spending. They also, often in conjunction with other town FinComs, give suggested spending guidelines to regional bodies such as the high school. FinCom members are also often assigned to attend meetings of important town departments and monitor plans and developments. Much of the fiscal restraint that the FinCom achieves over time is through this guiding process and informal, ongoing work with all of the departments in town. This usually results with a budget coming before town meeting that has already been weaned of pork and well prioritized.
Could the FinCom communicate more with the voters, as your editorial urges? Well, at least in Tisbury, voters at town meeting receive an annotated document giving details of the FinCom opinion on all items. Not going to the town meeting? Too bad, you get no sympathy from me.
Can more communicating be done? Sure, the members can stand on street corners and cry out their opinions. Too old-fashioned? How about newspapers? What about The Times offering each town FinCom a chance to put in a quarterly column about town issues, akin to your new Poet's Corner, which I am working to enter. Also, what about an ongoing column called The Island Economy that would deal with all economic issues of the Island in a similar fashion to the fishing column covering sporting matters.
In short, I believe FinComs do a great job and work way above their pay scale. Yes, communication with the voters can improve, but it needs the active help of the news media. Now, aren't you sorry you wrote that editorial?
George Balco is a former member of the Tisbury finance committee.