We are so fortunate to live in this Town where we enjoy extraordinary natural beauty as well as first-rate Town operations. There is a small segment of our Town’s population, however, that seems blind to our blessings and sees everything through a negative lens. This group tries to bolster its negativity by confusing and misleading Woodbridge residents. They demean our budget process and use of fund balance; criticize our time-tested appointment process; and distort the real options for the Country Club of Woodbridge property.
I’d like to set the record straight.
Woodbridge recently received –yet again – awards for our budget and audit documents from the national Government Finance Officers Association. This July, our Aaa bond rating – the highest possible rating from Moody’s Investor Service – was reaffirmed.
Contrary to the claims of improper use of fund balance in the budgeting process, the Town is projected to finish the fiscal year without using the fund balance cushion. It worked just as it should have, enabling us to avoid an unnecessary mill rate increase.
I agree with many that the Country Club of Woodbridge is a beautiful piece of property and, if the cost of carrying the property is acceptable to Town residents, it can remain as open space or a golf course. Importantly, however, the Town’s debt and other long term costs associated with this property are formidable. I plan to present the true financial picture to residents again so they can make a rational decision about the impact of some development versus no development. The decision lies with Town residents: Town-owned property cannot be sold without their approval.
Recently there was controversy over the Town’s long-standing process for appointing volunteer board and commission members. This process has been followed for decades by both Democrats and Republicans. This year, however, the three Republican Selectmen said they didn’t like the process and, therefore, decided to boycott meetings. This boycott delayed appointments and caused confusion. I am optimistic that this tactic will not be used to prevent a quorum at future BOS meetings. It is important to note also that more than one third of the appointments made this year were cross-endorsed by both parties.
I urge you to take the naysayers with a grain of salt. We have so much to appreciate and be grateful for: our award-winning schools; outstanding first responders, library, youth and senior programs, and customer service; our beautiful open space and hiking trails; the successful Woodbridge Energy Challenge campaign; our increasing number of community events, including the farmers’ market, Long Wharf Theatre partnership, Taste of Woodbridge and more; improved communications through our first time email newsletter and Facebook page; a more vibrant business district; and our highest standards of fiscal management.
Of course, none of these accomplishments could happen without all the hard work and dedication of our Town’s outstanding employees and generous volunteers. I look forward to working with them and with all our residents to preserve the best of Woodbridge while we adopt innovative best practices for our Town.