Opinion: Let’s Use the Tools at Our Disposal and Get the Job Done

Dorothy Galo

April 27, 2023 By Dorothy Galo, PhD

It was a great show of support for the Town-wide Override budget at Town Meeting. I have felt similarly affirmed by the efforts of the various town departments to get out the facts: what the additional dollars will buy and what the consequences of not funding the override number will be.

I’m personally appreciative of the many citizens who came to information sessions and meetings and took the time to listen to personal video messages from the principals and comments from our leaders and very articulate students. Many concerned friends and neighbors also signaled to those of us holding signs in the drizzle with a friendly wave or “thumbs up”, reflecting that they got the message about why the additional staffing and services still are needed, even in this difficult financial climate, and why simple metrics, in isolation of context, don’t tell the whole story.

Although the daily news no longer lists the number of new COVID cases or the death count, teachers and parents can tell you that the academic and social-emotional impact on Hingham children and youth continues to challenge the development and learning of many. Unfortunately, the federal aid that helped us so much over the last couple of years went away before our needs were fully addressed.

It’s good news to me that the authors of Proposition 2 ½ language (written more than 4 decades ago, now) realized that it simply is not always possible to provide all of a Town’s needed services under a fixed year-to-year budget percentage increase, whether it is 2 ½ percent or some other arbitrary number.  “Life happens”.  There are the unanticipated impacts of health crises, and conflicts, and inflation, and mandated costs that don’t rise and fall in tune with the uneven ebb and flow of town revenues.  There are times when we simply need more.

Using the override tool is the right thing to do for this year and only in the future under very special circumstances.  It is not a sign of failure to utilize the override process, or an indication that our leaders are incompetent, or that we are poor planners, or have inefficient employees. That would be an inaccurate and unfair conclusion. We have no evidence that prior overrides or debt exclusions have caused more of them to be requested.

You all know that the law requires the Town to provide a balanced budget and Hingham always does and our departmental leaders use the allocated budgeted resources well. But for those times when it is especially hard to fit the needs within the annual projected revenue, let’s not resist using the available, legal, and well-designed override financial tool to increase the dollars in the revenue pool to match the needs of our community.

And speaking of the override, we have one more step.  We need another YES vote this Saturday. I’m in and counting on all who can help.

Dorothy Galo, PhD is a Lifelong Hingham resident, Hingham Public School graduate, educator, administrator, and retired Superintendent

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