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Councilors Talked About Need for More Funding for Police, Fire and Schools, but Passed the Budget

Watertown Councilors did not make any changes to the budget. Any increase in one budget requires reductions from others.

After months of wrestling over Watertown’s fiscal 2012 budget, the Town Council approved the $98.9 million with no changes and little discussion on Tuesday night.

The Police and Fire budget were the only departments removed for discussion by councilors.

District A Councilor Angeline Kounelis said she thought that the public safety budgets needed more money.

“As I indicated last year, I strongly believe the staff levels should be at previous levels,” Kounelis said.

She noted that Ladder 2 in the East End Fire Station is out of service more than half the time.

“With minimum staffing there are short comings,” Kounelis said. “If money does become available I would like to give it to public safety.”

While she spoke out against the funding levels, Kounelis did not oppose the budgets as she had last year with a protest vote.

Town Councilor Tony Palomba said he would like to see any additional money be sent to the schools.

“I want to mention the amendment made when the School Committee’s passed the budget,” Palomba said. “The amendment requests that every effort be made by the town to increase the school budget by ½ a percent, another $169,000. I ask you to remember this.”

District D Councilor and State Rep. John Lawn said people must remember this is a tough year to do the budget.

“This is certainly a difficult time, with school funding and with all the budgets we have seen difficult times,” Lawn said. “But we have a responsibility to pass a balanced budget.”

If councilors want to put more money in the police, fire, schools or other departments, Lawn said, they must come up with cuts in other departments or find more money.

“It is political grand standing until you can find a way to get more money,” Lawn said. “The political reality is you can’t give money without taking money from another place.”

Town Council President Mark Sideris thanked Town Manager Michael Driscoll for all the weekend and night hours he put in to make the budget, as well as the town staff who worked on the budget.

Palomba thanked the residents who participated in the budget making process this year, and asked them to stay involved.

“Your role is important. You have the (town) manager, department heads, the council and you have the public,” Palomba said. “In a few months we will start the fiscal 2013 budget.”

John MacNeill June 16, 2011 at 12:40 PM
How do we equate "a responsibility to pass a balanced budget" with borrowing $3-million to astroturf a football field?

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