Friday, January 29, 2016

The Cost Of Capital

Town has $3,147,629 available with $3,337,267 in requests from Department heads for FY17

The Joint Capital Planning Committee -- made up of key players from Schools, Library, Town and Finance Committee -- had their first meeting of the year yesterday morning and overall the (short term) news was not so bad.

As usual there are more requests for new equipment or building repairs than there is money, but last year the deficit was twice as much.

The JCPC will continue to meet most Thursdays over the next two months until every department request has been scrutinized.  Of course Town Meeting has the final say, but they always pretty much abide by JCPC recommendations.

The Committee also spent time discussing the major impact four new buildings -- Wildwood School, Jones Library, DPW and South Fire Station -- will soon have on upcoming budgets. 

Before abandoning ship Finance Director Sandy Pooler came up with an excel spreadsheet that shows the tax impact of the four projects depending on whether a debt exclusion Override is used, or just tying to finance it within the budget via borrowing or combinations thereof.

Interestingly back in 1994 Town Meeting twice approved $4+ million Overrides to renovate Town Hall, both of which were turned down by the voters.  Town Meeting then borrowed the money and did the project anyway, staying within the regular budget.



Anonymous said...

Interest rates are at historic lows, so it makes sense to borrow sensibly and pay it off over time.

Anonymous said...

Is the $12 million in debt exclusion listed in the spreadsheet for FY2018 for only one of the planned capital spending projects, or a number of them.

If the latter, I would suggest that when the debt exclusion comes up for a town-wide vote, that the projects are voted on separately. I don't believe that there is & would be the same level of public support for each & if they are all voted on together, to me, the vote seems more likely to fail.

Anonymous said...

I am big fan and user of the Jones Library and the Amherst library system, but I fail to see why such a large, expensive library expansion project is needed.

Yes, the library could use some $ to fix up some of the current issues & under-utilized spaces. At the same time though

* The town has other more pressing capital needs than a large-scale library expansion

* Some of the activities that the library hopes to offer in their expanded space are already offered elsewhere in Amherst, and there should be more consideration of the library and organizations like LSSE working together more and not duplicating each others' efforts. LSSE plans to expand their use of the middle school building, especially if the MS and HS consolidation goes through. And yes, the library is a community center but there are also a number of other community activity spaces in downtown Amherst already, including at the Bangs Center.

* With more and more books and other library-type materials being available online, and more people reading on electronic devices instead of hard-copy, I can't help but wonder if public libraries are past their peak. There are rows and rows of books at the Jones Library in the downstairs area and in, for example, the large print area, and I don't see a lot of traffic in either. People use the desks in these spaces to do work more than they seem to read and use the books themselves. and especially with electronic readers becoming so popular, and being so easy to transport, download new materials to, and adjust print sizes as much as desired, large print books particularly seem to be from a past era.

Dr. Ed said...

I sometimes wonder if the ability to read more than 140 characters is from a past era...

Anonymous said...

Ed you are correct, google the common term "tl;dr" and you will start to see it everywhere.