Letters

Is the Bedford Taxpayers Association really serving Bedford?

Friday, April 11, 2014

BTA appears to have lost sight of purpose

To the Editor:

The Bedford Taxpayers Association (BTA) recommended a “no” vote on the bond to fix Bedford roads before our recent election.

Once the bond was passed, they sent a letter to the editor dated March 27 suggesting they had no opportunity to influence the way the money needed to fix 150 Bedford roads would be appropriated and that the Town Council acted in a fiscally irresponsible manner. In fact, the BTA had many opportunities to bring their concerns/suggestions to the Town Council, as many opportunities as any other resident or group.

Fiscal irresponsibility? The plan to address the “forgotten” roads and how to finance the $30 million cost was discussed on several occasions by the council in public session as seen on BCTV.

The council and former Town Manager Jessie Levine discussed several approaches to funding the cost, including the $30 million bond authorization (three $10 million bonds) and adding $5 million annually to the budget and the pros and cons of each. The council, in public session, decided on the approach, which was ultimately approved by 72 percent of the voters. The large March turnout was possibly motivated in part by the condition of our roads. Were the voters acting fiscally irresponsible also?

Where was the BTA during any of the discussions or the public hearing? As the BTA well knows, there is an opportunity to make comments to the council at the beginning of each council meeting and a more involved discussion during a public hearing.

I don’t recall hearing from a BTA representative in opposition to the council’s thinking. In fact, I don’t recall seeing any BTA representation at all.

As reported previously but worth repeating, three councilors, at the invitation of BTA President Roy Stewart, met with several members of the board, discussed the plan, the road bond authorization and answered their questions. Although some board members were absent, we were given the impression by Mr. Stewart that the BTA would support the bond authorization in their annual flyer.

As we were leaving, two councilors offered to return to brief the absent directors or answer their questions by phone. No invitation or phone calls followed.

While the BTA has served Bedford residents well in the past, it seems the group has lost sight of its purpose. I submit if the BTA had been acting in good faith on behalf of all Bedford residents, they would have “advised” the recipients of the annual BTA flyer (most of Bedford) of the BTA’s concerns and encourage the residents to make their own decision and not make the “call” for them. The board’s purpose and intent in this case is suspect.

It may be time for a change of BTA directors to support Roy Stewart and renewal of purpose or possibly a new and objective organization to impartially comment on “fiscal responsibility” of all Bedford tax money.

Just my opinion.

BILL DERMODY

Bedford

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