The Falmouth Town Council has managed to do the impossible. They declare that we can spend $5.6 million on a new town center with no increase in our taxes. A neat trick, but it just isn’t so. The properties are only available thanks to a new elementary school, which by the way will raise our taxes by 6.3 percent. The proposal also contemplates using $1.5 million undesignated surplus to offset costs. This surplus is excess taxes retained by the town after prudently banking funds for future capital needs and a “rainy day” fund of two months gross expenditures.
This policy explicitly states that excess funds over these reserves, currently in excess of $3 million, be returned to the taxpayers by offsetting expenses to keep taxes down. An accurate analysis of this project’s impact would take into account the positive impact on taxes if this surplus property was sold in total and returned to the tax rolls and surplus funds were used to cushion the impact of other needs, perhaps new school costs.
Finally, the notion that this unprecedented expansion of facilities and services won’t have a significant impact on costs and taxes in the future simply doesn’t pass the straight-face test. At a time when the school budget is so strapped that kids have to pay to play soccer, a vigorous debate about our town’s priorities is long overdue. It would be helpful if citizens had honest numbers to frame the discussion.
David R. Murray