On May 1, the voters of the town of Harvard will be presented with a clear choice between two candidates who could not be more different in their vision for the future of our town.
One of the candidates favors massive new capital spending on the expansion and rebuilding of Town Hall and Hildreth House in the amount of nearly $10,000,000. Under this plan the town would double its long-term debt with the effect of increasing taxes and surcharges by nearly 30 percent. In addition, the new buildings would have as yet undetermined increased costs for staffing, operation and maintenance.
The premise is that somehow by investing in fixed assets (buildings) we will better service our residents. In the case of Town Hall we are asked to believe that the staff of nine full time employees needs a new $4,000,000 building to deliver the same services that they so capably deliver today. In the case of Hildreth House we are asked to believe that spending $5,500,000 on the building will allow us to deliver much deserved and long neglected services to our seniors, ignoring the fact that the vast majority of seniors require mobile outreach services delivered to their homes.
Undertaking this spending will have an effect that is the opposite of its intent. It will so strain budgets that our ability to deliver services to our residents will rely of annual overrides just to stay even. Nearly $800,000 per year will be drained from our operating funds to support new debt. The inevitable result will be budget cuts to existing programs including our schools.
Rhonda Sprague favors a more modest plan to do necessary repairs and upgrades to Town Hall that will cost a fraction of the current proposal. She also favors increasing the budget for the Council on Aging for increased outreach to the senior community.
The difference is clear. One candidate would invest in places; the other would invest in people.
For me the choice is clear. I urge you to join me in voting for Rhonda Sprague.