As a member of the School Committee since 2008 and the Town’s Capital Committee (CPIC) since 2009, I, along with my colleagues, get to see the competing interplay for our scarce financial resources.
We understand financial restraint and stay within guidelines and budgets. It’s never easy work. It is especially troubling when one project is allowed to place singular and undue stress on those scarce resources. I speak, of course, about the request for an additional $1,100,000 on top of the $3,970, 000 for Town Hall.
From a CPIC perspective, it is worthy of note that, based on last year’s five-year capital plans, the town’s Capital Stabilization Fund is projected to run negative by 2017. We’ll likely be looking to an override or other strategies just to fund yearly projects outside of major undertakings.
Further, in 2012, CPIC reported that the Town Hall project, which we were assured could easily be completed for $3,970,000, was costly and competed with scarce resources. Since that time, yet additional capital- and debt-intensive projects have been presented.
Of note, the School Committee is looking at an estimate of $686,000 to renovate the Bromfield House and up to $3,400,000 to fix the science labs (work is being done to try to significantly reduce this amount). Additionally, the Town Center fire station requires a $750,000 rehab and rebuild along with a proposed $2,000,000 reconstruction of the DPW facility. And all that is after we have considered the imminently pending request of $3,700,000 for the COA/Hildreth House project.
Add it all up and the potential for increased debt and taxation to pay for it becomes daunting.
Against that backdrop, I voted against passage of the budget-busting $1,100,000 for Town Hall at STM.
I urge all voters to look at the big picture and vote accordingly on Nov. 5.