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Letter to the Editor: Vote Yes for the Killingworth Town Hall Addition

This proposal is not a “behemoth” nor will it “double” the size of Town Hall.

 

I am voting yes for the proposed permanent Town Hall addition at the July 24 referendum and urge others to do the same. I have attended three of the public hearings on the proposal and have been impressed with the comprehensive presentations by the Town Office Building Committee. Some of its members are in the building and engineering fields and their thorough knowledge of various aspects of the proposal is evident. It was also evident to me that fiscal responsibility was part of the package. These are conservative people.

This proposal is not a “behemoth” nor will it “double” the size of Town Hall. You can add up the square footage in the mailing we all received recently. You can also approximate the yearly cost to you based on the value of your house as explained in the same mailing. Some of the accusations against the Board of Selectmen in general and the First Selectwoman in particular over this issue have, in my opinion, been nothing short of slander. I know we live in a general climate of distrust and economic stress, but that doesn’t mean all government projects are suspect or that all progress should be put on hold.

Chatfield Hollow, enjoyed by most of us today, is one of the most beautiful spots in Killingworth. It was shaped out of wilderness during the worst depression this country ever experienced. Yes, it was part of a federal program, but it was still paid for by tax dollars when the unemployment rate was around 19%. It was part of a vision of what this country could be. On a much smaller scale, of course, this Town Hall project is also a vision, a realistic one, of who we are as a town and our optimism about the future. An improving economy bringing in more residents and businesses over the next decade will bring more people to a Town Office Campus that is a credit to the Killingworth community. That is what we are really talking about here.

Twice, in 1967 and again in 1998, the tough decisions of building a real Town Hall were put off. We now have a convergence of favorable factors. We have a highly professional Town Office Building Committee, low bond rates, and lower than usual construction costs. We also have a seriously compromised Town Hall addition that is way passed its use-by date and a proposed building that is a graceful fit for this town. Let’s do it!

Kathleen Amoia

Scott Perry July 19, 2012 at 12:22 PM
Ms. Amoia: The habitable square footage of our current town hall is about 5,300 square feet. According to the BC and BOS the second floor and basement are not suitable for occupancy. The current pods are 3,000 square feet and the first floor is 2,300 square feet. The proposed plan increases the habitable square footage to about 10,000 square feet. Don't take my word for it. BC member Keithan candidly admitted the plan doubles the size of habitable square footage at last week's meeting - from about 5,000 to about 10,000 square feet.
Fiscally Conservative July 19, 2012 at 12:25 PM
I don't think anyone is saying that something shouldn't be done to rectify the current situation with the modulars that are in place at the town hall. What people are concerned with is the size of the addition which will double the size of the town hall. Some other concerns are the systems that are being considered for the project. Geothermal for example is going to cost ~300k, however I believe the ground in that area have a very high sodium level due to a past sand and salt storage area, so how long before the pipes and circulator/heat pumps are corroded and need to be replaced? Also, we keep hearing a 3.5MM cost figure but when all costs are added in it is closer to 5MM.
Fiscally Conservative July 19, 2012 at 12:34 PM
Another issue I have with this project, and perhaps this is more directed to past and current administrations, if we knew this project was a must have in 1998 then why we're we not reserving for this in the capital budgets over the past 14 years when we had a stronger economy and perhaps one of the strongest growth cycles in memory? What I am getting at is we are going to be paying 1.5MM in interest and bonding costs because our past leaders on the BOS and BOF did not prepare for this properly. In the last meeting with the building committee there was a commen from the panel that we can't keep kicking the problem down te road, well guess what, that is exactly what the BOF, BOS, and the building committee is doing by financing this project for 20 years. They are passing their fiscal problems to a new generation, my generation. So now I say if you wanted this extravagance you should have paid for it up front by reserving for it, not passing to cost on. We need to build a structure that will allow the government to function as is, not expand into a 10,000 sqft plus structure.
Phil Stull July 19, 2012 at 02:44 PM
FC, let's follow your reasoning further. In the next thirty years KES and HK HS will no doubt need tens of millions of dollars of either improvements and/or replacement, so we should now be putting away 1 or 2 million a year for that. We will want to upgrade and add on to our recreational infrastructure as well, so maybe only 100K per year for that. Pretty so if we follow your thinking we will have to raise today's taxes a few mills on many people that will not be around to enjoy these future improvements and struggle now to pay their taxes, so that you will get to enjoy these improvements prepaid. Imagine if your way of financing was used by the federal government. No Interstate Highway System until the maybe the 1970's, new Q Bridge 2030's, and the list goes on. Big items that last a long time are financed for a longer period of time while smaller items like a fire truck are saved for. You may call yourself Fiscally Conservative but I suggest that you chose another name, maybe "Confused Conservative" or "You Guys pay so I won't have to." No offense meant, just think you need to think these things through a little more.
Christine Conlon July 19, 2012 at 05:05 PM
You can't compare Chatfield Hollow, of obvious taxpayer value, to that of a Town Hall. People only go to a Town Hall if they absolutely have to, people go to Chatfield Hallow just for the wonderful experience. Proximimity to Chatfield Hollow was a contributor to my decision to live in Killingworth. The Town Hall was not even on the radar for consideration.
Daniel Haas July 19, 2012 at 07:03 PM
I attended the meeting on the 10th of July as well and what Scott says is 100% accurate. The committe did rather sheepishly admit under some focused questioning that the usable square footage will be increased from 5,000 to 10,000 give or take a few hundred feet. I have it on tape as a matter of fact. I understand the BOC wants this to pass so they prepared a sales brochure to do that. They "cherry picked" facts to bolster their case but upon closer examination not all the "facts" in the mailer do well in the light of day. The argument for the voting space being needed for compliance does not have much substance either when it is looked at closely. Compliance is easily and inexpensively achieved using the KES all purpose room as we have for years and it is paid for. The lesson - do not believe everything you read especially if it approved by a politician with an agenda.
Fiscally Conservative July 19, 2012 at 09:28 PM
Phill perhaps you are confused. You have enjoyed many years of low taxes both locally and at the federal level because of the debt that this country and local municipalities have incurred and pushed cost down the road. I do think that projects should be accrued for and financing should be avoided when public funds are being used. Why should a tax payer have to pay a bank to fund a project when if a project is identified 20 years ahead of time we can reserve funds for it. The problem this country had is it's addicted to cheap debt. I am not sure you have been paying attention to what has been going on in Europe lately but we are not immune and there is a lesson to be learned here. Also if the BOF and BOS had reserved for this over the past 20 years the mill increase would have been much less than what is being proposed now and the town would have been earning 4 to 5percent on its accrued cash over that period resulting in less funds ultimately needing to be raised via at revenue.
Fiscally Conservative July 19, 2012 at 09:29 PM
Your comment "You guys pay for I so I don't have to" shows your lack understanding of this situation.  I will be paying for this for the next 20 years if it passes and most likely many other projects like the ones you listed, as well as many school projects before as I have been a resident of RSD17 for 21 years.  You however seem to want to push the debt down the road to the younger generations so you can sail off into retirement where I can fund your social security account as well, while knowing there won't be anything left for me when I am ready to retire.  Perhaps you should rename your profile to "Pay for my lifestyle Phil".  Offense taken.

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