To The Daily Sun,
After attending the bond hearing for the reconstruction of the Belmont Mill, we came away with more questions than answers.
We read Donna Hepp's letter to The Daily Sun, published on Jan. 27, and congratulate her for explaining, in great detail, the town's proposal.
With one vote, the town is asking us to:
1. Raise $3,357,250 to renovate the mill to be used for town offices.
2. Bond $2,957,250 as partial payment for this project.
3. Authorize the selectmen to negotiate the terms and interest rate for said bond or note.
4. Authorize the town to take $400,000 from the Capital Reserve Fund to pay the balance.
These are far too many questions to expect the voters to answer with a yes or no, all-or-nothing, vote and with no other options offered.
In reality, there are two separate issues here.
The first is: What should we do with the historic Belmont Mill? As Donna pointed out, we could repair the damage for less than $2 million and recoup some of the expenses by renting some of the space as has been done up until now. There are also ways to pay for the necessary renovations to the mill other than tax dollars. Again, as Donna stated, there are public and private funds available.
The second issue is what should we do for town offices as the selectmen are not happy with the Town Hall as it is? There are a number of alternatives here. The existing Town Hall has a second floor that is not used. The floor space could be doubled with some improvements that would cost around $400,000 (a rough estimate). A second option, that was mentioned when the town purchased the former bank building, is to repair the leaking roof and heating system on this building and move in some of the town offices. This would cost around $250,000 (again a rough estimate). The third option, moving the town offices to the Mill, is by far the most expensive.
The Town of Meredith is to be commended for holding a hearing on their issue of whether or not to put in roundabouts. Four hundred to 500 people attended this meeting, spoke up, the selectmen listened, and changes were made.
Belmont can do the same. We are currently taxed higher than other towns and the school meeting on March 6th proposes additional costs which will increase our taxes further.
We have the opportunity to attend the Belmont Deliberative Session on Saturday, Jan. 31, at 10 a.m. at Belmont High School and have a thorough discussion of these issues and what is best for Belmont. Only you can make this happen by coming to this meeting, speaking up, listening to what others have to say, and asking the selectmen to go along with what the voters want. Then, go and vote on March 10 between 7 a.m. and 7 p.m. at Belmont High School.
George & Susan Condodemetraky
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