By John J. Tassoni, Jr.
This November’s mid-term election ballot includes two separate bond referendums that will ask Smithfield voters to authorize funds for a new Fire Station in the proximity of Rtes. 7 and 116, not to exceed $4.5 million, along with a maximum of $45 million for major school renovations. The total for the two bonds is $49.5 million.
While these seem like forward-moving measures for the town, questions arise as to the validity of these requests, the repercussions of borrowing such large sums of revenue, and what effect it will have on the taxpayers.
The answer is simple: TAX INCREASES
As a former state senator and longtime public servant, I fully understand the need for these types of upgrades, but better planning and fiscal responsibility must also accompany such requests.
In my opinion, the bond for a new Fire Station is valid and appropriate. I support the construction of a new facility in an area that currently lacks one, to help the town provide easier and faster fire and rescue services to homes and hospitals and other care facilities in the area.
The bond for school renovations does not seem necessary at this time and needs a better plan of action to implement such major improvements, including a closer examination of the most recent census which indicates a decline in student enrollment.
Additionally, such major projects will be costly and will force town officials to raise taxes to a point that we will price ourselves right out of our own community. Businesses will not want to come to the town because of the high tax structure, and home sales will skyrocket because people will no longer be able to afford the taxes.
We need to look at our options. We need to make better fiscal decisions based on expected outcomes, in a timely manner. Most importantly, we need to ensure that our town’s budget is meeting the needs of the community members while keeping the debt at a sustainable level.
It starts with your vote. Your VOTE- For or Against the measures that sounds good on a ballot, but will only hurt the taxpayers and the town in the long run.