There are plenty of ways to make your voice heard.
Be it going to the polls on Election Day, writing letters to the editor or to City Hall, or making phone calls to your local, state and federal government officials, an informed people who are involved in the governing of the place in which they live is always a good thing.
Perhaps the most effective way to make your voice heard, however, is through listening to and addressing governing entities in person. And you’ll have the chance to do just that on Monday evening when the Gardner City Council holds a public hearing on the city’s 2011 budget.
Think the decisions being made in City Hall won’t affect you? Think again. This year’s budget, much like last year’s, is full of difficult decisions to be made by the governing body. The council is considering budgets built around both a 6.5 mill increase and a recently proposed 4.5 mill increase. Either way, it means more dollars paid per month per household by Gardner residents. And in an economic downturn, even though some members of city government say the effects of a larger mill increase likely will not be felt by some Gardner residents, we agree with other members of the council who contend that for a large segment of the population, the difference between a 6.5 mill increase and a 4.5 mill increase could be the difference between having a month’s worth of medication or having to go without.
Going with a lower mill increase would, of course, mean that other parts of the city’s budget would have to sustain cuts. If you have a loved one buried in Gardner Cemetery, the council’s decision will affect you. If you enjoy going out to watch a production put on by Gardner Community Theatre, the council’s decision will affect you. It will affect you if you use the city’s parks. And, most importantly, it will affect you if you pay taxes here.
Ultimately, whether you’re truly concerned about paying more money to the city – whether it hits you hard in the wallet or not — is for you to decide. But we’ve seen where apathy gets us time and again – those who do not speak up, whether it is in favor of a mill increase or against it – must be content to live with the consequences.
Monday night is your chance to either tell the city you’re satisfied with the budget it has laid out, or that it should be more mindful of how the proposed budget will affect the average household. Whether you agree with the city’s cuts or think more can be done, council members won’t know unless you’re there to sound off as an average citizen and a taxpayer.
Monday night is your chance to make your voice heard one way or another. And we encourage you to take it.