Sunday Notes: Voters can read – Cawley $14,000,000 to $20,000,000 more than Downtown (opt 2)

Innovation District– S And R Corp is buying land and going to construct a building but are they keeping their current location or will they be selling that? When they build will they get a TIFF? Same questions on Watermark? Are these new locations or are we just moving pieces on a chess board?

Respect the Voters – I’ve stated before, please don’t be confused by the numbers and now I add don’t let candidates get away with insulting the intelligence of the Lowell voters.

The next time you hear a candidate stating that the non-binding question is confusing to the voters, ask them why they think Lowell voters are not smart enough to read and comprehend the very simple question?

The Voters / Citizens know is was placed on the ballot by people who support the downtown location. Cawley supporters could have tried to put their question on the ballot, the 5 City Councilors who support Cawley could have put a question on the ballot, they chose NOT to. Downtown supporters did the work,collected the signatures and got THEIR QUESTION on the ballot!

The Voters of Lowell know that, give them credit that they have heard a radio broadcast, read a newspaper or watched us on LTC at least once in the last 9 months and can comprehend this question. I think they can!

ALL of the following numbers can be found on the City of Lowell Website – Lowell High School Project – Reports – June 6th City Council Presentation. Since these numbers were submitted the MSBA has increased the SF payment so all these numbers will decrease a little.

Please don’t let candidates mislead you with the overall cost, the most important number is what the City’s share is and what the tax increase is to the commercial and residential taxpayer.

Cawley is more expensive than Option 2 to the Lowell Taxpayer

Another argument I’m starting to hear from some people is the ballot question is for option 2 because it doesn’t mention eminent domain. I don’t necessarily agree with that interpretation but I can live with it.

In the cost estimates provided by the City Manager to the Council Option 2 already includes the cost of a “temporary” Field House so that expense is covered.

I’m concentrating specifically on Option 2 for the purpose of this post and for what I feel is in the best interest of BOTH the students and the taxpayers of Lowell.

I am concerned with the fiscal shape of the City. We know that the present school budget allegedly has a $250,000 deficit that the City Manager claimed he could not fund at budget time but would find the funds from “Free Cash”.

Remember the City had to use $2,000,000 from its cash reserves to fund the 2018 Operational Fiscal Budget with the promise to pay it back from “Free Cash”

I don’t believe we are getting $2,250,000 Certified in “Free Cash”. So how does the Manager repay the money? He doesn’t!

Remember what happened to this city when two of these Councilor’s allowed then City Manager Cox to use reserves to fund the operational budget?

The Contracts of many city unions are about to expire and they will want a cost of living adjustment and the School budget will have to increase based on raises granted by the current school committee. Where is all this money going to come from? A Tax Increase!

According to the City CFO for each percent raised in taxes, revenue for the City budget would increase by approximately $1.24 million, so just to make up the current structural deficit and to have money for cost of living increases the 2019 budget already is looking at around a 2% – 2.5% tax increase. That’s before any cost increase for health insurance, gas, electrical etc.

Two of the Cawley Councilor’s are so concerned about the higher cost for Cawley that they are looking for tax breaks for the elderly and retired. Meaning the working class and business community would have to pay more to cover any given breaks.

C. Elliott/C. Mercier – Req. City Mgr. meet with Finance SC to create financing plan to minimize impact of debt service of high school to senior citizens and those on fixed income.

Remember 61% of families in the Lowell School System receive some form of Federal or State aid. It’s why we qualify to be part of the CEP program which provides our students with free breakfast and lunch.

Option 2,calls to leave the High School Downtown, remove the existing Field House and build an addition with a new field house along with a Freshman Academy wing and includes the complete renovation of the Lord and Kirk St. buildings. That gives us a completely new renovated high school downtown.

In my personal view, from concern for the taxpayer and from a Downtown proponents view, this option is the best.

It provide a NEW Freshman Academy as part of LHS “Main Campus”

It keeps LHS centrally located near support services students use

It renovates and brings up to date the existing Lord and Kirk Street Buildings

It keeps the beautiful Auditorium open

It takes away the need and cost of Eminent Domain.

It keeps a long established thriving business downtown

It doesn’t cause any loss of jobs or taxes

It eliminates additional court cost and delaying anything with a protracted fight over value and at least a 6 month + time for the occupants to find another space. They would NOT be kicked out immediately.

We would not have to change 5 elementary schools from K-4 Schools to K-8 Schools and adjust their starting times.

We would NOT have to change starting times in 17+ Schools

We would not have to add $1.2 – $3.2 Million dollars in additional busing cost per year.

It is the least taxing on Commercial Businesses both existing and ones Lowell is trying to entice to locate here

For the working class family, those people on a fixed income including the seniors and retirees and the economically disadvantaged it is the lowest of the tax increases required to the Lowell taxpayer.

The Total square footage difference between Opt 2 and Opt 3 is 4.6 FT but you do give up 1.4 Acres of “Green Space” in Opt. 2 compared to opt. 3 , which in my understanding of class scheduling, students don’t get much of a chance to use anyway.

Based on the estimates provided by the City Manager, the amount the city has to pay, not the overall cost just the CITY’S SHARE, the difference between Option 2 and Option 5 is $14,119,149

Now if you factor in the cost of Field replacement and other cost the City Manager listed NOT ADDING IN BUSING it adds in another $6,115,000 or more which is LOWELL TAXPAYER COST NOT eligible for reimbursement from the State.

That brings the difference between Cawley and Option 2 for the Lowell taxpayer to around $20,304,149

That is BEFORE ANY BUSING Cost is added in, any RIGHT of WAY (ROW / eminent domain) cost are added in and before final traffic cost are finalized.

Using the numbers supplied by the City Manager before adding in any of these cost, over the 30 year life of the bond,

Cawley is already $27,300,000 more to the Lowell Taxpayers than Option 2

5 thoughts on “Sunday Notes: Voters can read – Cawley $14,000,000 to $20,000,000 more than Downtown (opt 2)

  1. “That gives us a completely new renovated high school downtown.”

    I would be more than willing to pay more in taxes for a NEW school. “New renovated” is not a thing. It is either new or it is renovated. Don’t make things up. A $27M difference between NEW or RENOVATED should be an easy choice.

  2. I don’t think the Ballot Question is that straight forward. Down Town is three different options. Which one is it? Some, noting the lack of mention of Cawley may think it is about “if all else fails”, yes, we should do down town rather than go for Option Zero. Then there are those who want nothing (Option Zero, which I figure is about $50 million). Do they vote no or do they leave it blank.

    Yes, the City Council should have put the options on the ballot, but I suspect they were going by the old saw, “If you can’t stand the answer, don’t ask the question.”

    Regards  —  Cliff

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