Last week Richard Merz, a member of the Paris Budget Committee, wrote an impassioned letter to the editor with regard to what he feels is the unethical move at the annual town meeting and a petition he authored for another town meeting to vote again on the $145,629 that was removed from the Fire Department’s budget on June 17 by those attending annual town meeting.`
His points are well made and we agree with many of them.
It was certainly a well-orchestrated coup. (However, there is a bit of irony here as it is alleged that certain members of the Paris Fire Department have been busy working on their own orchestrated coup – to take over the Fire Department and, eventually create a regional department that would cover the three towns of Paris, Norway and Oxford with Paris Chief Scott Hunter in charge.)
Regardless, Merz is correct when he states that any resident can make a motion to increase or decrease the budget during the annual town meeting.
Further, it is common for special interest groups to “organize” and show up with the hope of getting a majority vote.
A couple of years ago in Norway, someone made a motion to eliminate the library budget. Those in attendance voted. It didn’t pass, but it could have.
Often the fire departments in various towns will show up en masse to ensure that their interests are well served.
And therein lies the issue.
We disagree with Mr. Merz that the residents of Paris should have been informed specifically about a single motion that might be made. We agree that the motion made affects every resident, not just the 100 who attended.
The problem with all that is that every single article at annual town meeting affects every single resident and taxpayer of Paris.
The entire meeting is important and should certainly be attended by more than 100 residents. It should be attended by all.
The apathy shown by nonattendance results in what Merz calls “Monday Morning Quarterbacking.”
And let there be no mistake … it is a game, always a game. Budgets, town management, special interests and orchestrated coups are fluid, political and the only people who control that are those who show up and vote.