Editorial: the public deserves to see the town budget

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Our reporter requested a copy of the tentative budget from the Town of Islip last Wednesday, Oct. 16. We were told a copy would be provided and to “wait.” Finally, after continued pushback and multiple requests to see the budget, just before press-time at about 11 a.m. on Tuesday, we were told we must come into Town Hall to see a physical copy of the budget. An electronic version was not available. 

Determined to make the public rightfully aware of what will almost undoubtedly be voted in on Nov. 7, just after Election Day, we drove down there to view the budget and beat the presses.

Upon arrival, we were told we could not keep the physical copy, make a copy, take pictures or even take notes. We obtained the right to make notes and insisted someone call to discuss it. 

Still, we were never put directly in touch with the supervisor or the finance person. Instead, we had to middle man with the media person for hours. This is not how the media should have to deal with our elected officials.

Even so, we thank the media person, Caroline, for her patience and efforts in helping us get the correct info. We don’t necessarily feel this is a bad budget or something is wrong with it, but we feel like the amount of effort it took to get to the facts was cumbersome. Thankfully, we got the story done in time for print early Wednesday morning.

We were told that it is customary that the tentative budget isn’t available to the public until the morning of the public hearing, Nov. 7, the same day the budget will be voted in… because it is subject to change.

Brookhaven Town, on the contrary, pulls out all the stops, and goes bullet-point-by-bullet-point with the media to inform the public of the proposed budget a full month prior to public hearing and passage.

According to Islip Town officials, any interested resident must visit Town Hall and request to literally see a copy.  Then, and only then, are they permitted to see the tentative budget, supervised.

We don’t feel this process is transparent or taxpayer friendly, and request the town to release the tentative budget online to the public today—even if it is subject to change. (How much could it really change mere weeks before approval?)

Really, though, why can’t the public see the budget before Nov. 5?

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