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Wednesday, January 17, 2007

One man's castle.......

is another man's "Starter Home".

We thought we would take a break from the bond vote (we are waiting on some Freedom Of Information requests that we made) and focus our attention once again on the assessment debacle. If you haven't looked at some of the assessment reports on our website, please do.

Last night we added a new report--a report on Neighborhood Code 4817 or "Starter Homes" as Maxwell Appraisals dubbed them in their Trending Report in 2004.

Two councilmen and the town attorney are willing to concede that there is a problem, but they fear a "firestorm" if they try to correct it so they would rather focus their attention on spending. We have been assured that the assessment debacle is on their "to-do" list, but they don't know when they will be able to focus on it. I was told that with Preswick Glen looming in the wings and this bond vote they are busy!

Let me give my opinion on a few things--disagree with me if you like.

Some of the bond spending they propose may be a good thing. Stormwater management is desperately needed to give relief to people who are constantly watching their property being destroyed every time there is a drenching rainfall. If the town board or more specifically, if the Highway Superintendent presented a "plan of action" detailing the who, what, and where, it probably would make sense to bond for stormwater. What they have presented so far is nothing more than a list of streets and one has to wonder how they came up with $2 million. That is like me needing to fix a leak in my house and buying $2,000 worth of plumbing supplies because I might need them. It is difficult to hold anyone accountable for $2 million in spending particularly when the town board is so secretive. I want something concrete so I can tell if the work is being done.

Town trucks do eventually need to be replaced. In the past, $300,000 to $350,000 was earmarked out of the town budget each year so that older vehicles could be routinely replaced. The bonds they have on the table equate to almost $1 million of new town vehicles payable for the next 14 years. When asked how they plan to handle any further replacement of vehicles, in other words, do they plan to bond for them every year, they gave us a blank stare indicative of the fact that they hadn't even thought of that yet. By the way, we have requested a list of all vehicles presently owned by the town.

Energy efficient lighting is a good thing, but it is questionable as to why they want to pay for it over 14 years when according to the town board's own slide presentation the new lighting will save approximately $30,000 a year. Those projected savings mean that after about the third year, the lighting has paid for itself and the $30,000 is a plus in the budget so why do we need 14 years to pay off the debt?

1 Oxford Crossing is 12,000 sq. ft. That is a lot of space compared to what they have now for police, codes, assessor, engineering and planning. What are they planning on putting in there besides those departments? We were told that the present police department uses about 2,500 sq. ft. in the Madden Building. Could we see some plans as to what the building is going to look like when finished. They plan on using the whole first floor for the Police Dept. (that's over double what they have now), that leaves a lot of space for about a dozen people to occupy. Could we see an accounting of what the $500,000 in renovations will include and how those offices will be laid out.

And to bond for $45,000 for renovations for the highway garage over 21 years--whoa! It sounds to me like there is more to that story!

Lastly, sidewalks for $150,000. Ask your councilman where these sidewalks will be built. Don't count on it being in front of your house unless you live in the direct path of either the Rayhill Trail or Sherrillbrook Park.

That brings me back to the assessment debacle. Let's reason this together. Some people are not paying their fair share because many mistakes were made during the last reassessment when they decided to use tax map numbers to place properties in Neighborhood Codes. Neighborhood Codes are supposed to reflect "like housing". The budgeted expenses from each of the taxing entities, school, county and town are going up. That means that some of us are paying more than our fair share and will continue to do so until a "firestorm" occurs and this town board is once again "forced" to make a decision.

The problem did not happen under Mr. Reed's watch, but he and the current town board are the only ones who have the means to "fix" the problem now. Instead, they choose to bury their heads in the sand and spend more money on other things. It is easy to spend, but to stand tall and admit that errors were made takes the kind of "moxy" that this town board does not seem to have. So when you decide to vote for or against this bond spending, factor in the amount of extra money you will be paying because there are people like the Town Supervisor who are not paying their "fair" share.

Read the Neighborhood Code 4817 or "Starter Homes" report to get a clearer picture.

1 comment:

Mrs. Mecomber said...

Good post. Thanks for the information.