I had made a new financial year plan for Brasslans with a lot of help from Peter Lans, just two pages, the high property tax as income and just the obvious outgoings: wages, office supplies, gardening department, upkeep of the town hall, loan repayments for the town hall and so on.
And a big rainy day fund for all those unforeseen things that Westchester and Dingeldei had warned about. The idea was of course that the rainy day fund would not need to be touched and that the property tax could be greatly reduced.
Peter had pointed out that the plan needed to be undersigned from the financial officer and that Dingeldei would never do that. “Just do what the other mayors do.”
Peter was right, Dingeldei found something bad about my plan every day, usually something left out, a something that I did not understand. He couldn’t understand about the rainy day fund and he wouldn't sign. Would on the first of October the awful Westchester-Dingeldei plan come into force?
“We've gotta pay this. We always pay the window cleaning company every month. It's in the proper plan.” Invoice? No invoice. Contract? No contract. What could I say? “There's no invoice and no contract, so we don't pay, got it?”
It was clear to me that the windows had not been cleaned that month and didn't need cleaning every month. Peter Lans told me later that the window cleaning company belonged to a cousin of Jeremy Westchester.
“We've gotta find a replacement for Old Joe, he's retiring next month. I've found a suitable replacement...” “There's no hurry, wait a bit.”
There was certainly no hurry to employ someone new. I had had a long talk with Young Joe. There was not enough gardening work for one person, not enough for one day a week. It was boring doing nothing. And he wasn't getting any new experience. I had to think, there must be a better way to garden.
I did what the mayors of the other small towns and villages did, I visited the Financial Officer in Bigtown, John Cairns, at the beginning of September. He read my financial plan, laughed and said that he had no problem signing it.
I also met the head of the gardening department in Bigtown, could his department take over the very small amount of gardening needed in Brasslans? “Oh yes, but it'll cost you. Though I expect not much.” It was much less than Young Joe's salary. And the gardening department would also employ Young Joe and send him to college.
Chantel got a job in a tourist agency in Bigtown, “I'll get more experience there.”
Good news and bad news on the first of October – the new job for Young Joe and a copy of the new financial plan with John Cairns' signature on Dingeldei's desk. He said nothing, but I knew that he was angry.
I arranged for a big leaving party for Old Joe at a good restaurant in the next village. All the staff, Old Joe's family, the Lans and the mayors of the other small towns and villages were invited. Karl Dingeldei insisted on driving me to the party in his big flashy car. “You can't go in your battered old pickup truck.” It was a great party, I paid for it.
“With your plan there's no money for the Xmas party.”
That evening I met Old Joe down the pub and gave him some money to put a big tree with lights on the green patch outside the town hall. I arranged for a beer stand and a children's carousel for the fourth Advent Saturday. The local volunteer fire brigade and the wrestling and singing club put up a big tent and served coffee and home-made cakes. And fun was had by all.