To the Editor:
We all have learned to control our spending. But the town leadership is asking us for increased spending in the five propositions which total $6.7 million. It will bring our current unpaid debt to nearly $76 million to be paid eventually through increased taxation.
Look around and note the impact of increased taxation, the many signs for sale, for lease signs, businesses leaving, and declining real estate values. Note that with decreased school enrollment, that the school budgets increase. Then our superintendent recommended closing one of the schools; the Board of Education decided against it. Then we discover that the original $3.6 million allocated for renovating the high school auditorium requires and additional $750,000 for lighting, electrical, rigging components, stage draperies, etc. Many of us believed that the original $3.6 million would cover the renovation. We now are asked to approve an additional $3 million for building a new senior center. But how much more will it cost? What cost guarantees do we have?
It was recently reported that the original estimated cost for the new community center has increased by 50 percent from an original quote by Diversified Project Management (DPM) of $308 per sq ft to $459 per sq ft for a four-lane swimming pool. Our first selectman stated the original estimate was “a low ball guesstimate” when we voted Yes in 2016 in appropriating $5 million. Shouldn’t we be concerned with unreliable cost estimates on all future projects were DPM is involved? Remember that we have paid them nearly a million dollars in consulting fees. Why keep paying such fees, when a very reputable local contractor informed me they can build a community center with the pool at a cost of about $325 per sq ft, including planning, design, engineering, etc with a guaranteed fixed cost?
In a Q&A session at the senior center, I explained to Chairperson Mary Ann Jacob of my concern about all this new borrowing in light of the observation made by Representative Bolinsky that every single tax brings migration south, implying having to move south. She never reacted to this comment. She was then asked what Newtown’s outstanding debt was. She said she did not know. But this was her closing statement.
“We have to remember as a community, we have to make some decisions in what we want to invest in, who we want to be, and what that is worth to us, and try to balance those investments in a way that is fair to taxpayers but also makes our community grow.”
Considering all the information I have mentioned, do you believe that the current leadership has shown the ability to balance investments in a way that is fair to the taxpayers?
Dr Rudy Magnan
60 Watkins Drive, Sandy Hook April 19, 2017