letter to the editor

White’s Island

Mon, 04/11/2022 - 2:45pm

Dear Editor:

There are many attractive ideas in the White’s Island proposal. But I am on the Budget Committee and I plan to vote No on the current proposal. My reasons are listed below. I have reviewed the LWCF grant application form and requirements. In the following I am using “approximate, round numbers.”

1. The grant would pay up to 50% of the costs of the project. To apply for the grant we need to commit to pay the other half: $291K. If we get the grant we would be committed to spend this amount. I do not think we can afford this now.

2. The town has $12M in its investment fund. We are supposed to take out no more than 4-4.5% each year if possible. That is roughly $500K. This year we are facing as much as $2M in important capital expenses for repairs to property and equipment, and new equipment. So if we stick to the 4-4.5% we already have a large shortfall. Financing is certainly an option. But in this context it is not prudent to commit another $291K  to a park.

3. It is possible to include “in-kind” investments as part of our matching funds. So, if people will contribute work worth $24K we could deduct that from the $291K. But my understanding is this needs to be identified up front on the grant application form. If this is the intention, the proposal should ask the taxpayers for $267K not $291K.

4. I asked the team if they have pursued private funds. This could reduce the amount the taxpayers are being asked for, and could be included on the application in the matching funds. They said they have not done this yet.

5. A resident stated that her family owns some of the land the project intends to use for parking, and that she had not been consulted. This requires followup.

This is a difficult investment to approve at this time. Perhaps the proposal can be refined and revisited.

Tom Joyce