I am alarmed that just 261 Brunswick voters – the margin in last week’s referendum for a new elementary school – have determined that our property taxes may increase by 4 percent each year, over and above the usual annual increases for school and town expenses. Only about 3,800 folks voted – about a fifth of eligible voters. So the “majority” voting for 20 years of constantly rising property taxes was a small group.
One unintended result may be that people living on average or fixed incomes may find ourselves priced out of town. How will steeply rising property taxes attract and retain families with children to fill the new school? How will we remain a community of diversity and inclusion? How will we reconcile the wishes of a small group of voters with the economic challenges that face us all? Remember, we need to address other costs, too, such as repairing or replacing our downtown fire station and closing our landfill.
I urge the School Board, Town Council and town officials to begin an ongoing dialogue with residents about how we might meet the fiscal challenges that lie ahead. How might we fund a new $28 million school without paying an additional $12 million in bond financing fees? What are the costs and options for the fire station and the landfill?
I value living in this wonderful place, try to contribute to it, and hope to continue to afford to stay here. I hear many others voicing the same refrain. Let’s work to figure out a financially sustainable path.