December 18, 2017

My Two Cents

Posted

Mark your calendar, January 23rd is a special town meeting. The bulk of the meeting is to vote on whether the proposed Municipal Center is to move forward. If yes, there will be a ballot vote at a later date that all voters will be able to vote their opinion on whether to fund thru a debt exclusion. If you have been paying attention, the Board of Selectman has had several informational meetings, open houses at both the town hall and public safety building. I’m not going to try to convince you that we need a new town hall or public safety building…both places have far outlived their usefulness…they are dumps ( I can’t sugar coat it). We continue to make repairs and put more money into both buildings and they are both inadequate and in my opinion, should not house our public safety workers or town personnel.

I had to sign the tax recap, all the selectman at the end of the year have to sign it…meaning log onto the computer and sign ( check off these boxes). The town clerk coordinates the signing. Well, I remember that the town clerks office periodically gets snakes in her office. I’m not a fan of snakes…okay, I don’t like them. When I went in to “sign” the tax recap, I had to sit at her desk. I had my feet up on the chair and quickly signed and got out of there before something slithered across my feet….you would have heard the scream. Would you work there? So, I’m not going to try to convince you we need a new town hall and public safety building, its well overdue.

I am not in favor of paying more in taxes….I think I pay a lot right now. Eventually, we will have to pay more…the need for a new town hall or public safety building is not going away..and it will end up costing more the longer we put it off. I think back several years ago when the cost would have been less than it is now….but you have people with no clue or people who just want to be disruptive sending out flyers with inaccurate and out and out lies to confuse the voter and ultimately defeat any effort to address a long overdue need. The council on aging debt exclusion is retired ( paid off) in 2017. That’s how a debt exclusion works…once the debt is paid off, the increase in your taxes goes away. And it doesn’t compound, if you have a $50 increase in your taxes, every year it will be $50 ( or some less amount….I’ll get to that in a minute) and once the debt is paid off…the $50 increase goes away. The reason I say it could be less, is that the board has looked at alternate funding sources to minimize the increase in taxes to the taxpayer. One of the ideas was to use recurring revenue, like the rental of the landfill for solar panels to fund part of the bond payment. We were told you can not do that…..it has to be by a debt exclusion. However, there is nothing that prevents us from paying down the principle each year or every other year and recalculating the debt exculsion…ie, decreasing the amount owed and ultimately the taxes you pay.

A building committee was formed several years ago that looked at many different options and worked on this plan that in their opinion fits the needs of the town now and for the future. These are the department heads who understand what their respective needs are going to be….like the police and fire chief, the building inspector, health inspector, etc… You will notice in the plan that every department has “conference’ rooms…along with a large meeting room. Every department does not need a conference room, this was used for potential growth…new hires. However, as technology advances (the state is starting to catch up), I do not see a huge increase in staffing. Technology will make us more efficient….it has to. Our largest expense is labor. If we double in population, we won’t double in labor. Technology is already making it easier to do business from the comfort of your home.

The proposed municipal center is a well thought out plan by a committee (not one person and not the board of selectman) centrally located with plenty of parking as well as ability to expand if needed. Remember the Anawan School….the plan is well underway to create affordable apartments for seniors and veterans at NO COST to the taxpayer…in fact, the town will receive money for the lease of the land. We took care of a need - affordable housing for our seniors and veterans….close to the senior center…at NO COST to the taxpayer!

In the end, we need a new facility for both the police and town employees….it’s just a question of when it will happen.….you can either pay less now or much more later on. You decide.

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