In reviewing comments and remarks concerning the previous posting of the Opining Quill it would seem that some clarification may be helpful to some readers. While comments and remarks on subject matter and content are appropriate and encouraged in response to posting of the Opining Quill remarks or comments concerning individuals or personal attacks are not appropriate.
The post was written to stimulate discussion on the priorities of public spending. Grant money awarded by the State and spent by a municipality or government agency deserves the same scrutiny as money spent by a local government. Endorsing government waste or poor priorities in spending, by using grant money, is a good example of a lack of respect for the responsibility of due diligence given to elected officials when they take office. In this case it we have a dichotomy of responsibility which is confusing to many people.
The Town Manager has the responsibility to inform the Town Council of the opportunities presented by available State grants. The decision on priorities for spending of those tax dollars is made at the State level. The dichotomy on the local level exists when the Town Council is presented with a spending plan that by design contradicts local priorities or their responsibility to taxpayers to perform due diligence, to assure that the spending is in the best interest of local taxpayers.
That being said a short term local benefit may not be a road to long term benefit to the community or society. To illustrate this dichotomy on the local level we need only to look at the history of our Town Council and reaction to another State grant proposal.
The Town Council received the opportunity to accept a State grant for a sidewalk proposed to run from the post office to the high school. In reviewing the proposal and doing due diligence the design of the project was determined to be flawed and wasteful; it did not meet standards for public safety as judged by the Town Council. The grant was rejected; the project was redesigned, eliminating the dangers to public safety. When the grant was rejected the Town Council received criticism for rejecting a State grant or as some critics called it, “free money”. In retrospect the decision provided the opportunity to redesign the project, and provide a much improved sidewalk project which was still eligible for State grant money. Today we have a tangible example of a better community improvement that would not exist if the due diligence and courage of the members of that Town Council had not been present to reject a State grant in favor of a higher priority, a better project and respect for taxpayer dollars.
Grant money from the State is limited in how it can be spent and often has restrictions or limited targets upon which it can be spent. That does not mean, it has to be spent. Just because the State is willing to spend the money does not relinquish the local municipality from doing their own due diligence to protect the taxpayers from wasteful spending.
In this case the Town Manager had the responsibility to present the opportunities to the Town Council, it is not his responsibility nor within his authority to act. That is the role of a professional Town Manager and that is what was done. It was the responsibility of the Town Council to evaluate the opportunity before it, to perform due diligence and to act in the best interest of the taxpayers. It is their action and the dichotomy of their responsibility that should be the point of any discussion.
The leadership of the Town Council has changed since both of the decisions above have been made; it is time for the new leadership to look at the dichotomy of responsibility when offered grant opportunities. The new leadership deserves a chance to earn the respect and endorsement of the voters, but they must be mindful of their responsibility to perform due diligence before authorizing any spending be it funding from local tax receipts or State grant money.