It’s your tax money at stake

It has been close to a month since Supervisor Gerry Siller unveiled his 2024 town budget draft representing an 11.8% spending increase. The Town Board has had lengthy sessions working to reduce spending in an effort to come in at a 4 to 5% increase.

Is anybody paying attention?

We’re not complaining about the efforts made so far in examining the proposed spending line by line and working with department chiefs and committee chair people to find cuts.

The reality is in years of watching Town Boards struggle, we can’t remember a tougher time to find substantial savings.

Just one of the most recent work sessions revealed the very real life and death issues with which these five people are struggling. The cost of paramedics to administer advanced life support methods is going to cost almost half a million dollars. That’s because the town is having to bear the full cost of paramedics and increasing coverage around the clock instead of 12 hours a day. Statistics revealed during overnight hours, there are almost as many calls for patients needing such critical care as those that come in during the day.

What’s a life worth? What if it were your spouse or partner or your child?

Councilman Jim Colligan outlined the challenges: For each 1% decrease in the budget, the Board must identify $124,500 in cuts. To get to a 5.9% spending increase, members must find $747,000 in cuts and/or increased revenues. The Board has no ability to cut contractual spending, Social Security and retirement benefits, medical insurance premiums and payments to those employees who don’t take insurance through the town.

We know Islanders are intelligent and involved. Yet so far, we haven’t heard a word from the public about the budget.

No doubt some will show up or Zoom a Nov. 8 public hearing on the budget. But there won’t be a lot of time to make changes in a spending plan that by law must be adopted by Nov. 20.

There is still time now to weigh in and have a say about the budget before it’s too late in the game. Your ideas could help to identify spending cuts or ways to bring in more revenues.

Don’t wait until it’s too late and then complain about a result in which you opted to remain silent. Get involved.