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Home » News » Gorham residents let board know how they feel about 2023 town budget: “I can’t figure out what’s going on”

Gorham residents let board know how they feel about 2023 town budget: “I can’t figure out what’s going on”

  • / Updated:
  • Rebecca Swift 

After the Gorham Town Board unveiled the 2023 budget at a meeting Wednesday, they were met with confusion and criticism.

“I’m a retired electrical engineer,” resident Bob Gusciora said during the meeting. “I have done math like you can’t believe. I can’t figure out what’s going on. I’m a little confused and bothered because I expected to see more explanations of line items that made sense. It’s really sad at this day and age. Everybody is trying to get the most bang for their buck and this is really disappointing.”

The gathering was less tense than last month’s meeting, where residents spoke candidly about their views on a lack of communication from local elected officials.

Board members tried to answer questions, but residents were still frustrated

At Wednesday’s meeting, the board took questions from residents for almost two hours, many of which they tried to answer, but could not.  Board members like Brian Lazarus and Jake Chard vowed to work on getting answers to questions, which included why the tax collector is the only town employee who isn’t getting a 4% raise. 

“We can’t speak on that because it is a personnel issue,” Councilor Jack Chard said during a follow-up interview.

Gorham Town Board member Jake Chard also posed questions regarding the budget.

“There are some proposals that I had that were shot down,” Chard said. “Some were continued, which is the benefit of our board under Supervisor (Fred) Lightfoote. Everyone has an equal voice, between him and the newest member.”

Chard said the board has until November 20th to pass the budget. A public hearing is scheduled for this coming week, and Chard said he will be able to be ask other department heads questions about budget proposals there.

“My hope is that we take input from the residents,” Chard said, adding they board has the option to pass the budget regardless of what happens at the hearing.

Accounting firm that prepared the budget called into question after issues confirmed

Attention turned to the accounting firm who prepared the budget, EFPR of Rochester. Residents asked why the firm did not attend the meeting to explain the budget, which board members admitted had errors and was confusing to understand. Councilor Lazarus responded by saying he did ask the firm to be present, but they declined, citing, “The most toxic work environment they’ve had.” reached out to EFPR Friday, but has not heart back yet.

Chard addresses board’s tense relationship with public

“As with any issue that arises, we’re talking about people’s lives,” Chard said. “While things may have seemed frustrating, it’s definitely understandable from the resident’s standpoint. We’re talking about changes that really do effect their every-day life. The positives that I would consider is that we do have an open dialogue with the public, as you saw.”

“We are still having ongoing conversations regarding questions that residents and board members brought up,” Chard explained. “As we continued these conversations, more questions arise.”