The Advisory Committee and the Board of Selectmen don’t always see eye-to-eye on town meeting articles, but in the case of the ladder truck, they’re not too far apart. Both groups support the purchase, the difference lies in how to pay for it.
A number of funding sources are being considered to cover the estimated cost of $977K. After subtracting out donations plus some money leftover from a 2001 town meeting article (*), voters will need to figure out where to come up with about $780K.
At a meeting with selectmen last week, the Advisory Committee proposed financing $256K and taking the rest from the stabilization fund. The $256K borrowed by the town would be covered entirely by money pledged by St. Mark’s, Fay, and New England Center for Children over the next 10 years. That means there would be no increase in property taxes under Advisory’s plan.
In contrast, Selectmen proposed financing $400K, with the remainder to come from stabilization. Under their plan the average family would see a $6-7 increase in their annual property taxes.
Both plans call for pulling money from the stabilization fund, which is also called the rainy day fund. Last I knew it had about $1.3M in it. The amount of cushion the town needs in its rainy day fund has been a matter of debate over the past few years.
At town meeting last April, then Advisory Committee Chairman John Butler argued the town could spend down the fund to as little as $400K and still have enough of a safety net. Selectman Bill Boland strongly disagreed with that position.
The Advisory Committee and Selectmen will met just before town meeting on Tuesday to see if they can reach a compromise on the funding strategy. Regardless of whether they agree or disagree, voters will get the final say in how — or whether — to fund the ladder truck.
(*) For those of you who are curious, there is just over $100K left in Article 13 from 2001. It’s money that had been borrowed to study the idea of replacing Fayville Hall with a Senior Center. The site was determined to be too small and restrictive, so the plan was never furthered.