Local News

Q&A with Chris Bianchi

1) Why are you running?

It’s been an honor to serve our town and I want to work with our board to continue the progress we’ve made. In the six years that I have been on the board, I’ve worked with six different Select Board members and two town managers. By continuing to serve on the board, I’m providing that much needed stability, both on the Board and in setting the direction for the town.

2) In your opinion, what is the most important thing town government can do? What do you see as the primary role of local government?

Town government has many facets. The town’s most important responsibilities are to provide basic services and maintain the town’s infrastructure. The Select Board has many responsibilities but most importantly the board needs to establish policy to support the effective delivery of those services and work with the town manager and employees to propose a budget to the voters that creates the plan to guide the town.  

3) Making progress on initiatives and/or effecting change requires building consensus among voters as well as fellow Board members that any proposed path is indeed the best one for the future of the town and its residents. How do you plan to do this?  

I believe building consensus and working with my fellow Board members has been a strength of mine since joining the Board. To build consensus you must start by listening and understanding the concerns and ideas of the key stakeholders. You must be able to define the key issues and goals and most importantly you must be willing to compromise.  

4) How do you think town government should drive and/or support economic growth?

I believe the strength of our economy impacts our quality of life and as Select Board members I believe we need to help shape policies that promote the standard of living and economic vitality of our community. The town needs to provide the key infrastructure and services and build public/private partnerships that enable economic success and I believe we have been doing this well.

5) The budget always fosters healthy debate, how do you propose to manage spending and what specific things would propose cutting from the current proposal?

We can manage spending by thoughtful planning and supporting the budget plan proposed by the Select Board. The budget provides the plan for our town manager and town employees to follow and it provides them with the guide they need to adequately manage expenses. If we try to cut the budget too much, expenses, such as road maintenance, will become deferred, unpredictable and even more expensive in the future and we will see larger fluctuations in our tax rate. I wouldn’t recommend any specific cuts without the context of reviewing the budget as a whole. I believe the Board has already trimmed the budget this year and we voted unanimously to propose this plan to the voters.

6) What upcoming choices does the town face that you think voters should know about prior to voting on Town Meeting Day.

The warning for town meeting this year is relatively short, however the Select Board election and the budget vote are two key articles. I encourage voters to support me again this year so that our Board can continue the progress we’ve made over these last two years. I also encourage voters to support our budget. During this transition year, as we change our fiscal year to start on July 1, we have prepared an 18-month budget to take us from January 1, 2015 to June 30, 2016. This change is a positive step for the town; however, it has made it more difficult to compare this proposed budget to previous years. The Select Board, working with the town manager and all of the department heads, has worked hard for the last five months to put forth a budget that controls spending while providing the needed services and adequately planning for the future.  

7) In your opinion, what is our local government doing right? What are some of the top things that you think need to be changed?

There are too many things that we are doing right to list but in summary we are taking care of our current responsibilities and better planning for our future obligations with our planning while controlling expenses and keeping the municipal tax rate low.

Where we can improve is in the consistency of our direction. The lack of continuity in our leadership and shifting goals have hurt our development. We have a solid plan for our future and it will take time to fully realize. We have begun to make steps, but there is a lot more to do. We need to stay the course and pursue the plans we have put in place.

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