Tuesday, February 16, 2010

The Longmeadow School Building Project Continues Forward

Last Thursday, the Longmeadow School Building Committee (SBC) hosted a Public Information Session to update town residents about the new high school building project. If you were not able to attend or watch the session on LCTV it is available via webcast on the SBC website.

A press release from the SBC released yesterday is also available.

Below is a short video clip (9 min) from this meeting with Christine Swanson, SBC co-chair summarizing the financial aspects of the project.

The key highlights for the project include:

Total cost: $78,452,888
State reimbursement: $32,310,867
Town Cost: $46,142,020
Overall reimbursement rate: 41%

Ms. Swanson also included a slide showing the cost to taxpayers by year….

For a typical $350,000 home, the estimated tax increase per year is projected to be as follows:
FY11: $11; FY12: $65; FY13: $150; FY14: $580; FY15: $567; FY16: $557; FY17: $546

The average tax increase for a typical $350,000 home over 25 years is projected to be $450/year which translates to a mil rate of $1.28/$1000.

One of the comments made during Ms. Swanson's presentation was that the projected tax increase for town residents for the first three years FY11, FY12 and FY13 is pretty low as shown above. It is not until FY14 that a significant tax increase shows up which is due to the fact that this is a construction type loan and construction is not expected to be completed until Sept 2013. It is interesting to note that the mil rate impact in FY14 is 1.66/$1000 or $580 which is significantly higher than the average over the 25 year bond period.

Ray McCarthy, a town resident commented (see short video clip below) that the committee should not sell this building project based upon the low upfront tax impact but it should make sure that town residents understand the significant long term impact on their taxes. I definitely support Mr. McCarthy's recommendation in this regard.

I disagree with a comment made by SBC co-chair Mr. Barkett during this meeting. He stated that some of our debt from other capital projects will be maturing over time reducing the town's outstanding debt obligations and therefore mitigating some of the high school project tax burden. With all of the potential future capital projects that our town may need in the near future including a new DPW facility, water/ sewer upgrades, we should not count on the town's overall outstanding debt disappearing anytime soon.

Stay tuned to LongmeadowBuzz for further developments on this important project.


Jerold Duquette said...

The best way to describe the low upfront costs is to see them as a way to account for the current economic downturn by minimizing residents' burden for this necessary expense while the economy (micro & macro) recovers.

The present unfortunate coincidence of our badly needed capital and operating cost increases provides powerful punctuation to the argument against Proposition 2&1/2, which has proven to be "penny-wise and pound foolish."

Jim Moran, LongmeadowBiz said...

The low upfront costs for FY11, FY12 and FY13 is a result of the level of school project construction spending during that period. If the new HS is approved by town voters at the June 8 election, it will not be scheduled to open until Sept 2013 (FY14).

You are right that the lower upfront project costs will allow the town to get our financial house in order. The school building project will not have an immediate financial impact on the taxpayer.

I do not agree with you about the value of Proposition 2-1/2. It does provide a check and balance mechanism for uncontrolled spending by local government.