Hello Friends and Neighbors,
We are excited to present Project Forward! to you and hope that you will spend a few minutes to learn more about it and share your thoughts about this, our first phase of the project, by taking the survey or coming out to a public dialogue.
As we all know, change is a constant we can rely on, but not one we can predict. Our governmental bodies, especially at the local level, often change in a piecemeal way, as a reaction to the growing needs of residents by adding and modifying services. Since it is nearly impossible to determine how the demands of any one service will change over the long-term, a service may outgrow its original role, or shrink.
In business, this kind of change is anticipated and addressed, or a company will become insolvent. Not so with government. Though our responsibilities and current challenges may be dynamic, the underlying structure is not. That's because a system of order has been established, territories have been created, and opportunities to tweak that system are few and far between without risking upheaval. It is a surprise to no one that 'inertia' is endemic to government!
Yes, we rely on these legacy systems because we know they function adequately, but if we were to start from scratch, this wouldn’t be the way they’d be built. Just look at the rather fragmented nature of our Town! The fact is that changing these systems is often deemed “more trouble than it’s worth,” and restructuring is put off indefinitely.
Is this so-called 'conventional wisdom' something we should still accept at face value?
The tax cap has created great pressure to maintain services with only nominal increased revenues. Our region bears a significant tax burden. And yes, there is some redundancy of services – or at the very least, an inefficiency of delivery of services– within our Town. But we already are doing some intergovernmental sharing, so we have precedent for contemplating expansion of these models.
Now, we have some money from the state to seriously contemplate our future by talking with our residents about modernization. Even though Town services are a relatively small part of the investment you make in your community, change must start somewhere. Or not. Residents may well say that they like things as they are. And that would be okay. The point is that we must ask ourselves, as a community, if we are conducting our Town business in a manner that creates acknowledged sustainable value.