Nobody seems to agree upon who first said, “Lead, follow, or get out of the way.” It has been attributed to everyone from Thomas Paine and General George S. Patton to Lee Iacocca. We predict that, years from now, Southington residents will swear that it was Town Manager Mark Sciota that first uttered these words as he banged his fist on the desk in front of a wide-eyed Board of Finance and barked out the famous quote.
Okay. That’s not what really happened, but that’s the way it felt when the rookie manager presented his first budget proposal. While most of the state is wailing about deficits and state funding, Sciota tightened his belt. We were skeptics when he told us to expect a “conservative” budget, but nobody could have predicted the miniscule, $7,281 increase (0.01 percent) that he dropped on the BOF last Friday.
We expect that it sent a wave of panic through the Board of Education—even after proposing one of their most conservative budgets in years. Their 2.27 percent increase could be called conservative, but it can’t compare to Sciota’s budget for the rest of the town government. We’re impressed by the way that the Town Manager took on this challenge, and we feel it’s a good starting point as the town tries to balance the books.
In fact, Sciota offered an option for investing $1 million to start a new contingency fund which would drive the increase up to a whopping 1.96 percent (still a smaller increase than any budget in recent years). With the rising value of the Grand List, this option would still require a lower mill rate to fund than last year’s municipal budget.
Of course, no budget is perfect. We are confident that the BOF will carefully review each line item to see if there are further savings, but this could be Southington’s chance to be a state leader. The town’s industry is near capacity while state officials talk about businesses leaving the state. The town’s value is at an all-time high in this unfriendly financial landscape. Sciota’s proposal gives officials some wiggle room as they continue to look for another $2.1 million in cuts without cutting services. It has us excited about the next step.
We expect June headlines to be filled with rising mill rates throughout the state, but Southington might prove to be an island in Connecticut’s sea of red ink. So follow Sciota’s lead…or get out of his way. It certainly is a good start.
The Observer staff misses our friend
The Observer newsroom and staff were saddened this week with the news of Barbara Carroll’s death. Barbara was one of the original employees of our company, and her career spanned 45 years as the human resource manager for the Step Saver and the Observer. Employees throughout the company send our condolences to her family. From the printing press to the sales office, from the front office to the newsroom, we were all touched by Barbara’s wonderful presence.
Barbara processed the paperwork for every long-time employee in our Southington office, and her work behind the scenes helped all of us to better perform our jobs. In fact, she processed the paperwork for the hiring of all 21 Observer editors in Southington, Bristol, and Plainville from A.W. Nelson III in 1975 to current editors Mike Chaiken (Bristol and Plainville) and John Goralski (Southington)—as well as Noreen and Heike, the two friendly faces that greet customers to our office on Spring Street.
We’ll miss you, Barbara.
To comment on this story or to contact Southington Observer editor John Goralski, email him at JGoralski@SouthingtonObserver.com.