To Oxford taxpayers,
Even though I believe a would be nice addition for our community, I would rather endorse a project of this magnitude based on proper analysis of where Oxford is heading. Before being forced to cast my vote, I would have preferred to first see a forecast of where our mil rate can potentially go if not properly controlled. I try to be planning oriented as much as possible, and I’m very conscious/concerned about the long list of projects on the expense side of our plate, while at the same time - the “good” growth in our grand list has slowed tremendously. At the same time, we’re debating how to deal with the affordable housing, an issue that can potentially add enormous expense. Also at the same time, we’re in the midst of a very fragile state, federal, and world economy.
Look at our budget that just passed. With nothing much more than a normal increase in our regular annual operating budget, we have close to a one mil increase. Now start adding to that from our list of high-priced capital expenditures over the next five years; without some good revenue, we end up with a mill rate that may actually be a detractor for that good business and 55+ revenue that we want to attract. Once we enter that mode, it’ll be tough to recover, and five-digit annual tax bills will become the norm for average Oxford households.
As for this specific project, we’re rushing into it a little too fast for Mr Burke. I saw this coming, and it played a big part in why I wouldn’t support Mr. Temple during his campaign. This isn’t about planning and prioritizing the right way; it’s simply about rushing to build a football field as quick as possible.
Our Charter should be discarded in this case. Plain and simple, for $3.1 million, this should go to referendum. For this amount of money, it should not be decided by a stacked audience with a single agenda. It should go to referendum as part of the November election, such that we won’t spend extra money and voters will be coming out anyway. Thus, the 15 percent rule won’t be an issue, and it will allow all of us time to absorb the details, rather than rushing into a costly premature mistake.
Lastly, if we take this approach, it will also provide our Board of Selectmen with additional time to fully grasp and give overdue consideration to some of the other items in our capital plan that have been begging for attention. Just maybe, there’s a better plan that should be considered.
Editor's Note: Mr. Burke is an Oxford Board of Finance member