Elected officials have become too comfortable with minimizing the impact of costly proposed projects by presenting the “it’s no more than the price of a cup of coffee” analogy.
This trite response to deflect cost reality is insulting. The “Save Our Town Hall” advocates have been great at misrepresenting the real costs starting with the price-tag for the $12.5M project, as well as the cost for the “average” homeowner — which is a projected property tax increase of 8.5 cents/$1,000.
Below is a list of real life expenses that can be purchased utilizing the “It’s Less than a Cup of Coffee a Day” formula:
• A month of term life insurance
• A bag of groceries
• A tank of gas
• A dental exam
• A prescription or doctor copay
• A newspaper subscription
• A babysitter for an evening out
• A monthly water bill
• Dinner with a friend/loved one
The problem with indiscriminate “coffee spending” is that in very short time, it adds up to a meal a day. This is exactly how working families and single income earners begin to feel the strain on their monthly budget. If you have ever felt like you had more month left over than money, voting “No” on Question 1 should be easy for you. This is your opportunity to have a direct impact on your taxes.
Our town government functions well in its existing offices, and it will for many more years. Depending on the outcome of bids on Wickford Elementary, and the likelihood that Wickford Middle School will be vacant in the next few years, we have other buildings with adequate parking which may be better utilized for the functions of municipal government; options that don’t involve a flood zone, paving over a war memorial, and compromising public safety.
Shouldn’t we be investing in our technical infrastructure to make business online easier, and lessen the need for brick and mortar? For many years, taxpayers in this town have paid dearly for the extraordinary neglect of nearly all of its most precious assets — the Old Library, Wickford Elementary, Old Town Meeting Hall, and the 80 Boston Neck Town Hall are some of the most egregious examples. What reasonable person would conclude that a new $12.5M town hall would not also meet the same sad demise?
The limit to what we are able to spend is unique to each of us based on our income and resources. Don’t let the Save Our Town Hall advocates shame you into thinking that somehow the approval of $12.5M bond is somehow related to the honorable pursuit of historical preservation. It clearly is not, because voters already saved our town hall in 2018 with a $5M bond to fully repair and restore it. Question #1 is all about new expensive construction, and it’s about giving up your coffee.
James A. (Jim) McGuire Jr.