A recent arrival in Concord (retired financial controller, definitely elderly!) I’ve followed discussions about middle school funding in this paper, at Town Meeting, and online. Debate has touched on many important topics: property tax relief, educational/architectural theory, town demographics, voter participation, local governance, and more. I’m impressed by these wide ranging comments, but the immediate question before us is how to provide physical plant improvements in the shortest time at the lowest cost to taxpayers, to support our middle school population.
After a multi-year investment of town resources, with professional as well as citizen input, we now have a demonstrated need for a new building, and a voter-approved construction budget. Due to outside economic factors, a budget supplement is necessary to continue forward progress. Some object to the extra funding, urging a ‘no’ vote on the ballot. Unfortunately, this position is counterproductive. It will not address the underlying concerns (see above) in any realistic way, but it will cause all Concordians actual financial harm.
The town has been transparent about the consequence of a ‘no’ vote. They project that the cost of stepping back to reconfigure the project is greater than the cost of approving this budget increase. A ‘no’ vote is thus paradoxically a vote to spend more, not less, taxpayer money, regardless of voter intent.
If you care about property tax relief or voter participation, or making Concord more affordable, or keeping our senior citizens in their homes, or better town governance, by all means work on those issues. Volunteer for town committees. Get active in ways that will directly impact those problems.
If you also care deeply about your family budget, do all those things and vote ‘yes’ on Feb 16.