Most full-time town employees are represented by unions (and most of the rest have contracts that mirror union agreements), and those contracts provide for annual raises. Those raises do account for most of the police budget increase. You can see all the details here: https://montague-ma....Y21_Budget_File.xlsx (look for the "211 Police" tab. You can also find the details on all the other budgets, along with a lot of other information (this is the main file used by the finance committee in its budget deliberations). This file is found on the town's web site here: https://montague-ma.gov/p/374/, along with a bunch of other useful files.
IMHO, simple budget reductions (or increases) are a heavy-handed way of changing how departments operate. Ideally, they would come at the end of a process, not the beginning. In this case, I think it's clear that a lot of town meeting members would like to see changes in how policing is done in Montague; however, it was a close vote, so it wasn't an overwhelming mandate for change.
Instead, I see it as a mandate (opportunity) for town leaders and community members to begin substantive conversations about policing in Montague could or should be different. The success (or not) of that effort will depend (as so many efforts do) on who is willing to step up and be part of that process.
I had hoped when I asked the police chief for the reason for the request for increased funding that he would have given a more robust answer. Saying "contractual obligations" must not have been compelling for most 38-35. I expect the chief to be back at next special town meeting asking for his more money for his budget but with more detail. But I guess the town of Montague sent a "message" with the budget amendment but I don't know to whom they were addressing it to.
Mike Naughton, I think your overall question to our police dept. about how they view, and intend to respond, to the questions and proposed changes being raised nationally, is important to ask -- although I hold that the "answers" are not known yet, and will come from public forums as well as smaller conversations among community members and police.
The way you pose the question is respectful. I wish I had realized any of this was being discussed on montaguema.net, prior to Town Meeting. A clear presentation of the components of P.D. budget was not requested as part of the discussion, and I wish it had been. I see no evidence that we have any "extra" or "fat" in our budget. Montague could hardly be more different from L.A. or Minneapolis, in terms of these issues. I do think public conversations need to be deep and honest regarding problems that do exist, or any incidents that have occurred, that are sub-par and need improvement.
Restructuring the responsibilities of public-safety officers, AS WELL AS teachers and school staff, so that social services resources can handle counseling, conflict resolution, domestic abuse, and addiction interventions -- taking the lion's share of this work off the backs of police and schools -- would be a dream come true for so many of us!
The money to provide these alternatives, at a robust enough level, is not something we can raise from taxes locally. I believe we need a Federal government that taxes income at the rates of the Eisenhower years, and returns the lion's share to communities for infrastructure and human needs. A graduated income tax at the state level would help, as well.
You were missed at Town Meeting, Mike, and I hope you and your family are all safe and well.
One wayis that on Article 6, the omnibus general budget article, someone could raise a question about the police budget, asking something along the lines of, "How will this money be used to address the issues raised by recent demonstrations in Montague and around the country?" I would suggest giving Chief Williams and the selectboard and town administrator a heads up beforehand (say, by emailing them this week) that the question will be asked, so they have a chance to prepare. My idea is that it's best not to blind-side them -- give them as good a chance as possible to answer the question, and then see what they say.
I would do this myself, but, after a lot of thought, I've decided not to attend the meeting. Long story short, I'm in a high-risk category, as are members of my family, and that comes first. It wasn't an easy decision -- I think this will be the first annual meeting that I've missed in 20 years -- but it seems like the right one. So I'm hoping that someone who does go will decide to do this.
Thanks for raising this Mike. I agree. I'd like to hear the police department respond to the national movement for police accountability and restructuring that best supports community health and safety.
18 articles in an hour is a little over three minutes per article. It would take longer than that just to read some of them.
Your questions about the town hall annex are good ones. I'm hoping someone will ask some questions about how the police budget is spent. I think it would be a good opportunity for the chief and/or the police commissioners (aka selectboard) to publicly acknowledge that they understand the concerns of the recent protesters and to explain how the department and the town are addressing them.
my first question would be if Deerfield can handle 26 warrant questions in an hour, can we do it too?
Actually article 17, do we really want to allow the town hall annex to be sold? I can understand leasing but selling? How would this affect parking?
End White Silence Rally at Montague Common Monday at 4 PM.
We will be lining up along both sides of Main Street for an hour or so - at good physical distance from each other.
Bring a sign or come as early as 3 and there will be sign-making materials available.
If you're wondering "why Montague" -- here is a piece by "Standing Up for Racial Justice" outlining the usefulness of small/village-level/non-Black public support and organizing. https://medium.com/@...iolence-2bb907ba5277
The annual tradition of Montague Holiday Caroling will take place THIS SUNDAY, 12/15, starting at 7:00pm. Anybody interested in singing door-to-door is invited to meet up at the Common Hall, where song books and bells will be provided. Festive garb and good walking shoes are encouraged, and tea or hot cocoa can be provided afterwards at the common hall.
This week we will be having another big Millers Falls meeting!
When: Thursday, November 21st, from 6 - 8 pm
Where: The Covenant Church on Bridge Street
Why: Suzanne LoManto will be there to present the latest draft of the Strategic Plan that she and Walter Ramsey, with help from Peg Barringer of FinePoint Associates, have been working on. This will incorporate input and feedback from the survey last spring and our previous meetings.
Please come if you are interested in helping to shape the future of Millers Falls, or if you are simply interested in finding out what is going on.