Berne Town Board conservatives seem unconcerned with the looming fiscal disaster 

To the Editor:

If I believe from the dictionary, “conserve” means to “protect something, especially an environmentally or culturally important place or thing from harm or destruction.” So I find self-proclaimed conservatives a confusing bunch.

It appears to me that their first instincts are to use up resources selfishly, to undo plans and laws meant to protect and promote the common good, to spend public funds with as little oversight and prudence as they can get away with, and to show no respect to citizens who voice opposition.

The conservatives who control Berne town government exemplify this counter definition. They started off their first year in control with firings and appointments that are costing the town dearly in dollars and respect.

As one member of the board freely reported in the Feb. 11 public meeting, a town resident came around to Town Hall several times last summer looking for a job. So to provide a job, with no consideration of improvement and equal unconcern for cost to the town, the dog-control obligation of the town was completely changed.

At the same meeting, with no mention of a request for bids or research into financing to conserve town funds, the board approved the expenditure of $240,000 cash to purchase a truck for town road maintenance. 

Now in a move almost comically contradictive, they are going against the conservative mantra of downsizing government as they seek to enlarge the planning board. Town board member Mathew Harris used Kettering Foundation conclusions to bolster this action: “The high-achieving community had ten times more people providing leadership than communities of comparable size.”

What Mr. Harris overlooks is the assumption that those communities sought leadership from upstanding, law-abiding citizens not a disbarred lawyer who has spent time behind bars for fraud and bribery. This is the person they want to install as chairman of the expanded planning board.

He would be instrumental in the town board’s desire not to conserve the town’s comprehensive plan. This state-mandated document was drawn up with serious citizen involvement and approved by the state only a couple of years ago.

In the meantime, the conservatives on the town board seem unconcerned with the fiscal disaster looming for local government as the pandemic response beats the stuffing out of sales-tax revenues.

Finally, when citizens voice opposition to their actions, conservatives on the town board conserve no respect for them. How shameful to hear a member shouting insults at a town resident in the recent online hearing for the planning board expansion.

Mary Ann Ronconi


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