The Brindle Administration introduced Westfield’s 2021 municipal budget last week, patting itself on the back for delivering to residents the highest tax increase in seven years, and for using another $3,795,000 of our surplus savings. That surplus is now projected to fall to only $5.8 million at year end, down from $14.5 million the day that Mayor Brindle took office four years ago, with residents realizing little in return.
In addition to depleting our municipal savings, Mayor Brindle’s proposed budget increases town spending by more than $3.7 million since 2017. And here’s what we have to show for it: more empty storefronts downtown, electronic signs warning us to lock our doors, and not a single new playing field for our children.
Last year at budget time, Mayor Brindle openly criticized the town’s traditional financial planning and surplus creation, saying that it was an “approach that a financial advisor would apply to a couple in retirement, ensuring there is adequate funding to support basic needs for their remaining years, while leaving something for the grandkids.” Exactly.
For decades that approach sustained Westfield as the kind of town that so many, including you and me, wanted to move to and live in. Mayor Brindle’s approach certainly is different: spending is up, surplus is down, and our quality of life is suffering.
We deserve more sustainable budgeting that better spends our tax dollars on reducing crime, improving our downtown, creating new playing fields, and rebuilding our surplus. The town cannot continue to increase spending and taxes on residents, while simultaneously seeking to hand out tax breaks to commercial property owners and developers.
Mayor Brindle has had four years to deliver a better budget to Westfield residents. She hasn’t. Time is up, and it’s time for her, and us, to move on.