My Two Cents
As I mentioned in past columns, we were in negotiation and then mediation with the two police unions in town…patrolman and superior. Good news, after spending the day in Boston, both sides came to an agreement and the police have a three year contract. I couldn’t talk about our negotiations while we were in executive session….now I can. I believe that the police officers deserved a raise. I do however take exception to the letter that was send to local papers from the two unions stating that the board did not negotiate in good faith and that we put off meetings/negotiations. That is totally UNTRUE. We negotiated in good faith with ALL our unions. We had many, many meetings scheduled outside our normally scheduled weekly board of selectman meeting. In the end, the contract reflects just about what the selectman were offering. My opinion (remember the title of the column) is that their union attorney was a cog in the wheel. The board’s goal was to provide a fair compensation to all our officers as well devise a contract that will retain our younger officers (newly hired). And I think we did just that. Enough said about the contract.
On April 3rd, you will have an opportunity to vote for various elected positions as well as vote on whether to vote for a debt exclusion to fund a new municipal complex. If you’ve read this column in the past or watched selectman meetings, you know I don’t sugar coat the fact that our public safety building and town hall are dumps. They have far outlived their usefulness. I would not work in either building. Please remember this is NOT a board of selectman plan. I had very little input in this plan at all. I let those that would better know what is needed for their respective departments…such as the police chief, fire chief, building inspector, health inspector, etc… All giving their input. Ted Rowse, a town resident, donated his time in developing plans based on our needs as well as adhering to the building of a public building. Ted’s company had complete 100’s of municipal buildings and is well versed and well respected in the public sector. We have many informational meetings as well as had some very good questions at town meeting. Keep in mind this committee of department heads has been in place for multiple years and has vetted this plan.
First, this building is about triple the size of our current town hall and public safety building. The well and septic have all been taken into account in the expansion of the building. It is centrally located making it easier for residents to take care of all town business in one stop, while being located almost in the center of town. Some have asked what we are doing with the existing town offices. It is hard to try to solicit any seriousness when we don’t know if the new plan will be passed at the ballot. There are many options that the board will pursue if the vote is approved. Someone asked about getting grants…again, no one takes you serious if you don’t have the support of the town voters. About 9 years ago we lost out to some funding for a new public safety building …it was down to Rehoboth or Springfield. Springfield got the grant because they had architectural plans and plans of moving forward regardless of the grant. Rehoboth had a rendering…looked pretty but didn’t show that we were serious.
On Feb 2nd, the town of Rehoboth signed a Community Compact Agreement with the Baker-Polito Administration. By joining the Compact and committing to the selected best practices, the Town of Rehoboth becomes eligible for many grant opportunities and gets extra points when applying for grants.
Once ballot vote is approved, we can apply for grants to help defray the cost of the municipal center. The board’s goal is to use recurring monies, like rent from the landfill, to defray the cost. We found out from bond council that we can’t deduct the money each year but rather we can pay down the principle thus reducing the cost of the tax increase. And let me make this very clear, because the I think the ballot does not ( there are certain legalities in wording the ballot based on mass general law, in my opinion, it should be written in layman’s terms so you understand what you are voting for). If you vote in favor of the override, it is a TEMPORARY override. It is called a debt exclusion…it can’t be worded on the ballot that way but it is a debt exclusion. This means once you pay the debt, your taxes will be reduced. Just like the council on aging building ( paid off in 2017), your taxes will go down. AND most importantly it is not compounded each year. The estimated cost to you around $40 per thousand. If your house is valued at $300,000, you would pay $120 more in taxes.
For example….if your taxes are 3,000 year, you will get a tax increase of 2 ½ percent or $75.00….and owe 3,075, add the debt exclusion $120. Your tax bill would be $3,195. The following year, 3,075 times 2.5%, would be 3,152 plus $120 or 3,272. The $120 dollars isn’t compounded. Your taxes are calculated with the 2.5% increase then the debt exclusion is added. The plan of the Board of Selectman is to adjust the $120 based on the recurring revenue from solar projects in town. So, the $120 will continue to decrease over the life of the bond (30 years) until it is paid off. If we get some grant money towards the building, it will be further reduced. The worse case scenario, $120 is added to your tax bill each year.
Don’t be tricked or fooled into thinking anything different…from someone uninformed or some anonymous letter in the mail or in the media. If you have any further questions, please attend a Board of Selectman meeting and we would be happy to answer any and all questions. Can’t attend? Call the town offices and speak to Helen Dennen and she will get you the answers to your questions. The Board of Selectman has answered every question brought before us regarding this project as well as the committee members.
Let me just say, I do not want to pay more in property taxes. I think I pay a lot right now. However, it is not going to be any cheaper. If nothing is done, eventually we will have no choice but to move our employees out of the town office …we can pay now or we can pay later. I would prefer to pay now….not later. My two cents.