Tonight was Blandford’s informational mini-town meeting. The main issue at hand was initially the 9.5 percent increase in the school budget that the superintendent and the school committee was asking Blandford to pay in 2013. Our finance committee felt that to be fair to the Town’s other obligations, the town would only be able to pay for a 5.7 percent increase, which the superintendent, who just happens to be a Blandford resident, said wasn’t an option. The town couldn’t choose how much we were going to pay. That caused a stir which then degenerated into further acrimony when the subject of taxes and tax collection came into play. Our town has had a truly lousy record with its finances since the fiscal year 2003. According to the finance committee, the tax collector, the town treasurer and the town accountant hadn’t done their fiscal duties in reconciling the Town’s accounts on a monthly basis for all those years up until 2011 which is when the new tax collector was voted in. Therein lies the rub, all these positions are elected positions, they aren’t held up to as transparent or accountable standards as you would think. The board of selectmen can’t force them to do their jobs, they don’t answer to anyone except for when they are up for reelection, every three years.
So tonight became a heated accusatory debate of whose fault was it, the old tax collector, the auditors, the finance committee. It started to go into a free fall of blame being thrown anywhere it would stick. I confess, I left because I had all the figures from the proposed budgets and since my vote wasn’t required this evening, I felt that I had received all the relevant facts in order to render my decision.