Hello, Woodbridge Residents!
I am the newly elected Chair of the Woodbridge Democratic Town Committee, a role I am excited to fulfill, not only with my colleagues in the Democratic Party, but with all Woodbridge residents who share our values and our goals for our Town.
In this first column, I will focus on Democrats’ strong commitment to Civic participation, a cornerstone of our democracy, and one of our great strengths in Woodbridge. Civic participation, of course, includes voting. Our voters turn out in large numbers, especially in presidential elections. Civic participation also includes volunteer activities: we have hundreds of volunteers serving on Town boards and commissions, as well as on the Boards of local and national non-profit organizations.
An important opportunity for civic participation that is less widely recognized is provided for in our Town Charter: the Town’s Preliminary Budget Hearing. That hearing is coming up in just a few days. I encourage all Woodbridge residents to attend the Preliminary Budget Hearing on Monday, April 18th at 7PM at the Firehouse.
At the hearing, the Town’s Finance Director will provide an overview of our budget process and explain the Preliminary Budget that has been approved by the Woodbridge Board of Finance (of which I am a member). A summary of the Preliminary Budget is mailed to all Woodbridge residences prior to the hearing. Also, this year the Finance Director will demonstrate the new interactive budget tool that the Finance Department has adopted and can be found on the Town website: woodbridgect.org.
In addition to the Board of Finance and Board of Selectmen, representatives of all Town departments will be available to answer questions about their department budgets, including any specific line item. Soon after the hearing, the Board of Finance will meet to determine whether or not changes to the Preliminary Budget are warranted as a result of the issues raised and discussed at the hearing. The Board of Finance will then adopt a final budget for approval at the Annual Town Meeting, which will be on May 16th this year.
It is said that government budgets reflect our values and priorities. This is certainly true in Woodbridge where approximately 2/3 of our budget funds our schools: Beecher Road School and the Amity Regional Schools. The involvement of Woodbridge parents with the schools is another example of the high level of Civic participation in our Town.
Another upcoming opportunity for Civic participation is the celebration of Earth Day on Saturday, April 23 from 10 AM – 1 PM at The Grove and the Library Lawn. There will be a tag sale, book sale and more. Further details can be found on the Town’s website homepage: woodbridgect.org.
Woodbridge has been a leader in doing its part to create an environmentally sustainable planet for future generations to enjoy. Examples include, taking advantage of solar opportunities (including the solar array on Beecher Road School), restricting the use of pesticides on Town property, installing electric car charging stations, supporting the Massaro Community Organic Farm, converting all municipal street lights and lighting in many Town buildings to LED lighting, and more.
In celebrating Earth Day, we are part of what is “widely recognized as the largest secular observance in the world, marked by more than a billion people every year as a day of action to change human behavior and create global, national and local policy changes” (earthday.org).