NEWFANE—The Town Office Building Committee has been “working overtime,” to get residents ready for the Nov. 8 town office bond re-vote, according to Selectboard Vice-Chair Carol Hatcher.
Town Office Building Committee members Karen Astely, Doris Knechtel, Mel Martin, and Frank Suponski visited the Oct. 17 regular Selectboard meeting to give the Board an update on their work.
Martin designed a “simple and straightforward” brochure, using input from the other members, explaining their findings. They include costs for a new, 4,000-square-foot town office building using estimates provided by “a few” builders, committee members said.
The brochures also announce a series of informational meetings on Tuesdays and Thursdays leading up to the re-vote. Committee members said the brochures were mailed to residents in mid-October, and would be available from the town offices.
Board Chair Todd Lawley asked the committee members if the printing and postage costs were coming out of their budget.
“We’re doing this presentation for the Selectboard and the town,” Knechtel said. Suponski reminded the Board they have the re-vote coming up and they need to get the information out.
Board member Gary Delius reminded his colleagues that townspeople voted “yes” on Article 2 of the town offices bond vote; and Knechtel said the committee receives its direction from the Selectboard — thus, the cost of production and postage for the brochures shouldn’t come out of the committee’s budget.
“One of the biggest criticisms I heard of the previous vote was the citizens were not prepared adequately for the town vote, [and they] didn’t really have the information,” Hatcher said.
She praised the committee numerous times throughout the meeting for presenting “solid, current information that’s been gone through and investigated so the voters will be informed about the project and what it means."
“That’s pretty hard to do in a short span of time,” Hatcher said.
Knechtel said the information the Selectboard presented before the August vote wasn’t effective. “You get three pieces of paper, filled up, [and] nobody wants to read it,” she said. The new brochure will be “easy to understand,” Knechtel said.
Resident Ken Estey asked committee members why they present only one option: selling the town offices building and constructing a new one. The Selectboard had explored three options: doing that, renovating and adding to the current building, or continuing to address the building’s many problems piecemeal.
“We’re suggesting the new building ... without the ‘what-if, what-if, what-ifs’” of renovating, Martin said, because “it’s the most responsible way to keep taxes low."
“We’ve looked at the renovation again, and we’ve concluded it is not a reasonable option, fiscally speaking, for the town to pursue. That said, we’ll spend time [at the meetings] showing you why the new building is the right solution,” Martin said. The committee will mention renovations, Martin said, but “it’s a waste of time” going through all the details of renovations again.
Martin said he was speaking as a Newfane taxpayer when he said he doesn’t want his tax money wasted, either, and he believes constructing a new town office building, although it will raise taxes, will be the least expensive choice offering the greatest effect.
Suponski said he isn’t opposed to renovating the current building, and if the Nov. 8 re-vote fails, the committee will work on that option.
Newfane citizens “can vote however they wish, but at least they’re going to be informed,” Hatcher said.