Open Letter to the BOS


To the Editor:

I am writing to suggest that the BOS currently has a unique opportunity to engage its citizens in a dialogue-this opportunity is centered around the coronavirus and its impact on the Annual Town Meeting.

Currently, due to the need for “social distancing” public gatherings are discouraged/prohibited for the foreseeable future, including the Town Meeting. There are numerous financial matters that need to be authorized by a vote of the citizens of the Town and it appears that the only realistic way to achieve this vote may be via online voting, combined with old-fashioned mail-in ballots- at a date to be determined in the future.

No one knows what the full impact of the coronavirus will be – what we do know is that it is without precedent. It appears that it will be a lengthy national economic disaster, truly rivaling the impact of the Great Depression, with some current forecasts of a major recession, predicting Q2 contracting by 24%-30% alone and an unemployment rate in excess of 12%.

I and many fellow citizens of MBTS have long been concerned by the town’s spending habits on unnecessary “projects”, causing our taxes to rise by an effective 7% rate this year alone. Proposition 2 ½ was enacted to limit property tax increases to 2.5%, not to be overridden unless there was an “emergency or other unanticipated expenses”. Manchester is in danger of abusing this statute for, as cited in a 2018 Cricket article, “In Manchester’s case we have declared “emergencies” so frequently over the last 20 years they are no longer unanticipated expenses, they are common, leading to our average annual spending increasing by 5%- it’s as if Proposition 2 ½ never became law.”

A prime example of a completely unnecessary expenditure is the town’s current plan to spend $222,000 to widen the Masco/Beach Street sidewalk by 16” – $14,000 an inch – a sidewalk ranked in a Town authorized study as “not in need of major repair”. There are numerous areas in town that are TRULY in need of repairs, such as the faltering Singing Beach seawall.

Now, in this period of extreme financial uncertainty, is not the time for the Town to be making unneeded financial commitments. As is the nation, now is the time for the Town to “hunker down”. I would urge the BOS to commit to a policy of fiscal restraint concerning future Town spending, weaning itself off costly projects predicated on soon to evaporate grant monies, eliminating unneeded non-essential spending. 

With this in mind I have a suggestion. Inasmuch as it appears that the Town Meeting and balloting will have to be rescheduled to a later date and format, I would like to propose a subsequent addition to the Town Warrant for inclusion in citizen voting at that future Town Meeting. That additional Article would be very simple – in the form of a nonbinding vote on one of 2 choices.

To see if the voters of MBTS recommend that the BOS’s spending on their behalf: (Choose one)

1.Be reduced to eliminate all non-essential spending

2.Be maintained at its current level


The country is facing a financial crisis with very tough and limited choices and resources – we as a town are in the same situation as well and must act prudently.

Given that we have the time in this period of uncertainty over the date and format of the upcoming Town Meeting, I suggest that we use this time to our advantage. I strongly urge you to amend the current Warrant to give the voters of MBTS the opportunity to express their opinion to help you as you determine the Town’s future spending on their behalf.


John Jay