Silt foursome takes an ax to town budget
SILT — When a coalition of four candidates won election to the town’s board in April, the quartet didn’t waste any time acting on their promise to make budget cuts in tough economic times.
In short order, they decided not to renew the contracts of town administrator Betsy Suerth and town attorney Gene Duran, eliminated planning department staff, cut the hours of the deputy town clerk and implemented a hiring freeze, among other measures.
“We like to say with lightning speed we are in the process of fulfilling our campaign promise,” said one of the four, Mayor Dave Moore.
The group’s delivery on its campaign platform is winning praise from some residents and criticism from others.
“I think it was appropriate to cut those costs,” Ray Lloyd told trustees at their meeting Monday. He said he thinks people are tired of spending at all levels of government.
But others, such as Mary Blichmann, objected to moves such as the late-night decision at a previous meeting to part paths with Suerth and Duran.
“I think you guys have embarrassed our town. You treated good people with utter disrespect,” Blichmann told trustees at Monday’s standing-room-only meeting.
Moore, former Silt town administrator Rick Aluise, former Silt police chief Paul Taylor and businessman Bryan Fleming ran as a coalition called Save Our Silt. Moore was re-elected as mayor by five votes. But the other three, none of whom was an incumbent, easily were the three top vote-getters in a six-way race for three trustee seats.
In their campaign, they objected to the town running a $276,000 deficit that forced it to dip into reserves, questioned the amount being spent for a town attorney and associated expenses, and said the level of spending on building and planning wasn’t warranted in a town that issued just two new, residential-construction, building permits last year.