To the editor: Bonds are being used like a credit card

I’ll vote for the school bond and the fire truck bond, but I do not support the paving and mower bonds.

Let’s say I bought a $30,000 truck and took a loan for the full amount but paid only interest for the first three years.  At the end of the third year, I would still have a $30,000 loan on a truck worth about $15,000.  That’s not a good way to finance anything.  But that’s what the town did last year by financing a pickup truck, an $8,000 mower, an $11,000 washer-dryer and a number of other things in a eight-year, $269,000 bond. That bond plus a paving bond totaled $489,000 of debt.

Bonds are intended to finance large capital purchases that can’t otherwise be afforded like a $500,000 fire truck, an $866,000 roof for the school or a much needed police/fire station.

Let me be clear, I’m not opposed to the fire department getting air packs or fixing the town pool.  I am opposed to financing the purchases incorrectly. A new bond proposed this year will purchase one $3,500 air pack, $25,000 of improvements to the pool, $50,000 for a ramp repairs and a $110,000 mower.  I am confident the town could pay for the pool repairs, air pack and the ramp with minimal impact on the tax rate.  And if we need the mower I’m asking why we aren’t financing it under a traditional equipment loan where payments start now?  Instead it’s interest only for two years then payments start in 2019.

The mower bond wasn’t proposed last year.  Also, the fire truck bond has gone from $400,000 to $500,000.  That’s an additional $288,000 in debt.  Add the bonds from last year, this year and the paving bonds proposed for the next few years. The total town bond debt is closing in on $1.9 million.  We also need to consider the bigger picture and realize that taxpayers will be paying for the school bond as well.

The town is starting to use bonds like a credit card.  Rather than paying for items now and raising taxes, we are pushing debt into the future. We have paid cash for paving before. … why can’t we do it now?  If we approve all of these bonds, the town will have an average $300,000 of debt payments each year – 2020-2022.  What is the difference between paying for $220,000 of paving now or having $300,000 debt payments in 2020-2022?  More than $100,000 in interest expense and large payments we don’t know if we can afford five years from now.

I understand everyone involved has best intentions for the town; however, I think we need to slow down and carefully consider the future implications of what we are doing: whether we should use a bond and/or need to purchase everything we are putting in the bonds.

Thank you.

Mike Leonard

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