It’s getting to be budget time in the towns of the River Valley. For those of us with messy mind syndrome, the work of those who painstakingly and skillfully prepare their departmental and agency budgets is truly awesome. Only clear, tidy minds should tackle the mysteries of accounts, their numbers and their nomenclature. Patience is an attribute greatly to be desired in those who tackle budgeting challenges.

No two towns budget processes are exactly alike. One or two are delightfully simple. There are many things to recommend living in Roxbury, beauty and relative quiet among them. The town’s spare financial program is perhaps another.

 “Well,” Tax Collector/Treasurer Renee Hodsdon said, “we only have one department” — the fire department — to fund so the process is uncomplicated. Roxbury’s fiscal year is January through December, but their consideration of 2011’s budget will not get under way till the first selectmen’s meeting in February. Polling is set for June 14.

Dixfield’s deputy treasurer and secretary, Charlotte Collins, said the town’s fiscal year runs from July 1 to June 30. Selectmen will begin their consideration of the town’s budget at the March 21 board meeting, at each board meeting thereafter, extra meetings as needed, and present a three-option budget to voters at the May 26 town meeting.

A little early for Mexico’s budget review schedule, Penny Duguay told me. The town manager sets the agenda for the process, which usually begins in late February. If voters turn down a budget item recommended by the Board of Selectmen, that budget item is funded at last year’s level.

Messy mind syndrome

You could say it’s the curse of the unemployed or the retired or kids with nothing to do for vacation, but the messy mind plagues many if not most of us. Here’s a little of what it’s like:

At any one moment — don’t let science fool you on this — the messy mind has on it: a dinner menu, an appointment for a hair cut or manicure, wonder at what made the governor talk like that; what’s playing at the Casa Blanca; is it too cold to ski; where will the next weather catastrophe hit; the last lines of “Jailhouse Rock”; hope that President Hu Jintao won’t raise the rent on us; fear of the latest heating oil bill; name of brother’s college roommate; how to get to someplace warm.

Linda Farr Macgregor is a freelance writer; contact her: [email protected]

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