What if Marblehead could fix the Old Town House, buy a new fire truck AND fix the drains without raising taxes and without impacting services? I suspect your reply would be “That seems impossible - how?”
Here is how: the town had budgeted for a big increase in insurance expenses for the coming year. Then the town joined the State insurance system. This insurance change “saved the town $2 million” per year according to Tony Sasso at Town Meeting.
From this savings our leaders agreed to give the town employees raises. The annual cost of the raises is approximately $800,000; leaving 1.2 million per year unspent. Over just 3 years that is $3.6 million in savings.
Why then do we need an override to fix the Old Town House for about $500K? Why then do we need an override to buy a fire truck for $1.2 million? Why, when already we have the money?
Answer: We don’t need an override for these priority projects. But, how do we fix the drains ($4.9 million)? Answer: We borrow the money – without an override.
Presently the town uses all of your non-override tax money to pay “operating expenses." Any time a big expense comes up; they come to you for an override. It doesn’t have to be that way. Let’s go back to the numbers. Over just 3 years we had $3.6 million left in savings from our insurance change. If we spend $500K on the town house and $1.2 million on the fire truck we have still have $1.9 million remaining.
All we need is a fraction of that $1.9 million annually to pay the principal and interest on a loan (bond) to repair the drains – without an override. And the Selectmen will still have a lot left over to spend on other things! Imagine that, the town borrows money for necessary expenses - without an override!
Then they pay for it out of regular tax revenue; just like all of you do when you pay your mortgages or car payments out of your paychecks. There is no override option for your personal expenses. I urge all my fellow taxpayers to vote NO on these overrides and demand that the Selectmen spend YOUR existing, hard earned, tax money on these priority projects.
P.S. Regarding the land purchase: it comes down to whether you want to pay more taxes to preserve this open space or you would rather have about $100,000 per year in new tax revenue, compounded by prop 2 1/2, forever when the land is developed. I’d rather have the money.
Jack Buba is Treasurer of Marblehead Citizens for Fiscal Responsibility and a former FINCOM member. He can be reached at Marbleheadcfr@gmail.com