Re: Tax hikes for a new high school and a senior/community center
posted at 2/19/2010 1:04 AM EST
Make no mistake, voting "NO" on March 30th ISN'T FREE - it will actually cost Natick homeowners MORE! Keeping the rain out, the heat in, replacing the electrical and plumbing systems, updating the 50 year-old kitchen (which also services 4 of 5 elementary schools), and making the building handicapped accessible would cost $46 million (which equals the price to taxpayers of a brand new school). Moreover, that plan doesn't even include replacing the heating system which is 200% past it's useful life and will cost approximately $50 million! All told, the town would need to invest $120 million over the next 20 years (vs. $46 million over the same period for a new school) and we'd still have a high school that isn't suited to educating our students for the 21st century. We would have to pay the whole $120 million because there won't be any help from the state -- they've looked at it carefully and they will only help pay for a new school because it's CHEAPER TO BUILD A NEW ONE.
But the MSBA's offer to pay nearly 50% of the cost is time limited. They are on record stating "Given the overwhelming capital needs of school districts across the Commonwealth and the MSBA’s limited capital program funds, the MSBA cannot indefinitely tie up funds allocated for a project that lacks local support." (http://www.massschoolbuildings.org/program_ektid1868.aspx
Natick High School has already been placed on warning status by our accrediting board due, in part, to the current state of the building. Some might argue that "we don't need to be accredited - Wellesley isn't accredited and they're fine" but Wellesley succeeds despite this, not because of it. Every realtor I've asked has categorically stated that, all else being equal, homes in unaccredited communities are much less appealing than those with accredited high schools. The market adjusts downward to reflect this lack of desirability. My home is about the only asset I have at this point and voting no would make me much poorer than paying for a new high school.
We have an opportunity to build a much needed new high school AND have nearly 50% of it paid for by taxpayers in other communities across the Commonwealth -- communities who would DESPERATELY love to be in our place (and likely will be if Natick rejects this project).
So yes, even though I live on a fixed income and I don't have any kids, I am making a selfish decision to protect my home's value and save myself a great deal of money over the next 20 years. I hope everyone in Natick is equally selfish and decides to VOTE YES on 2!!!