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OPINION: Surprised and Appalled by Budget Request

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Dear Editor, the Montpelier Bridge

Upon reading the Jan. 8 Montpelier Bridge editorial announcing that it was seeking petition signatures to put a budget request for $27,254 on the city meeting ballot and explaining the reasons for doing so, I found myself surprised and appalled by this particular initiative.

Not having quite formulated my thoughts enough to form an articulate opinion on the subject, when the writer of the editorial was out braving bitter sub-zero temperatures in order to gather signatures recently, I mentioned it was something I needed to think more about first and declined to sign the petition at the time.

When asked again today by someone else who was seeking signatures for it, and having thought it over, I explained some of the reasons behind my reluctance to sign the petition.

Although I am willing to sign most candidate petitions more often than not, I tend to only lend my signature to those ballot questions or budget requests I am supportive of and intend to vote for.

Considering that the Montpelier Bridge is both an independent newspaper serving the community and a business, it is my opinion that using taxpayer dollars to support it crosses a certain line, one murky at best and better if completely avoided. If this line does get crossed, it could easily head us toward a rather slippery slope.

While the newspaper has served the community faithfully and those involved with it have worked very hard over the past 21 years doing so, this is not enough of a justification for it to seek, nor obtain, taxpayer dollars. Neither is the fact the newspaper has been unable to obtain sufficient revenue from ads or subscriptions and the like.

This is certainly the case when the City Council is currently considering a municipal budget that could possibly gut, among other essential services and projects, funding for Officer Jake — the police dog — as well as the housing trust fund.

If the newspaper intends to remain a truly independent member of a free press, no matter how noble and forthright might be its cause or case, the Montpelier Bridge ought not to be seeking direct taxpayer support in order to remain afloat and should instead continue to seek funding elsewhere.

Therefore, if the budget request manages to acquire enough signatures to be placed on the ballot, sadly, I shall be compelled to vote against this funding initiative.

Morgan W. Brown, Montpelier

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