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Westford made it through another Town Meeting on March 23. We plowed through several controversial issues – alcohol on town fields, the restaurant on Drew Gardens, the storm-water enterprise fund – not to mention the $125 million fiscal 2020 budget. There were disagreements and many different views were voiced, but in the end all the issues were put to rest. Some people were happy with the outcomes; others were disappointed.
Beyond the individual issues addressed at the meeting, one point needs to be acknowledged – the dedication and quality of the work done by Mark Kost and the Board of Selectmen, the Town Manager Jodi Ross and her staff, Bill Olsen and the School Committee, and the other boards.
BOS members give generously of their time, expertise and energy in an effort to define a path forward for the Town. Whereas each of us may have an issue or two that we focus on, they must consider ALL the issues, and learn the details of all of them before they make their decisions. Selectmen are volunteers; most have day jobs as well. The time commitment is enormous. While we may have to attend 2 or 3 evening BOS meetings to speak on a specific topic, they must attend all of them, take all viewpoints into account, and determine a direction. They can never please everybody. It’s a tough job. While I occasionally hear complaints about the BOS, I don’t see a lot of people volunteering to run for the position themselves.
The fact that the $125 million budget sailed through as easily as it did is a testament to the dedication and thoroughness of Jodi Ross, Finance Director Dan O’Donnell, Superintendent Bill Olsen, and all the boards and committees. By the time the budget made it to Town Meeting, it was so thoroughly vetted that it prompted few challenges. During the budget process, town staff must do double duty – developing detailed budgets while tending to the daily functioning of the town. They also must attend evening meetings with the BOS and the various committees.
And thanks to Town Moderator Susan Spuhler for managing the meeting , keeping it on track through a number of contentious issues.
While we may be disappointed in some of the outcomes, we must remember to appreciate the BOS, town and school staff, the moderator, and all the boards and committees for making this happen one more time. — Bill Taffel, Westford