Ordinarily, it wouldn't make headlines. But the fact that the town of Bridgewater is expanding the hours of operation for its library and senior center during a recession makes headlines for several reasons.
First of all, while many in the state Legislature are saying “taxes” is a forbidden word during this election year, Bridgewater residents voted for a $2.8 million Proposition 2 1/2 override last month.
Times are tough everywhere, with deep cuts to funding for schools, public safety and public services in this year's and next year's budgets.
Bridgewater Town officials responded to this year's budget shortfalls by holding school funding steady and cutting everything else. Bridgewater residents responded by voting in favor of an override 57 percent to 43 percent.
According to local political activist John Palmieri, Bridgewater residents wanted to preserve the quality of life in the town:
“I heard people who had historically voted against the override say, ‘I have to do this to save my town,’” Palmieri said. “I hadn’t heard that before, so it was a different sentiment and it really translated into the vote.”
The override vote followed nine straight years of budget cuts that saw city services slashed and library hours cut to 14 a week. The library is now open 26 hours a week. Town Manager Troy Clarkson says the town is now beginning the process of rebuilding its infrastructure.
“This is the beginning of building a better Bridgewater,” Clarkson said. “The community came together and saw the importance of moving forward to rebuild this community.”