Why Holyoke should vote down the 2 1/2 Override

There's a Better Way For Holyoke


Please vote NO on Question 1 on Nov. 5th


Endorsements


Marc Hickey, Candidate for Ward 3 School Committee:
"Being a school committee candidate, I need to balance the best education for our kids while staying within our budget. I am voting No to the current plan because our kids will not be getting a quality education waiting in trailers while construction of the proposed schools goes on for at least 4 years.
Meanwhile multiple Holyoke schools sit vacant. The proposal is both unaffordable, takes away money from current classrooms that need repair and has not thought through the impact on our children during the 4 year transition. We need a better approach than this plan on the table!"

Linda Vacon, Holyoke Ward 5 City Councilor, "No on debt exclusion for 2 new schools"
We have had a number of meetings to complete our due diligence on a matter that has a huge and long term (30 years) financial impact on our city.
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While the work done to develop the ideal proposal from the perspective of the educational needs is respected, it was learned that the only way to fund this is through a debt exclusion vote (proposition 21/2 override). On May 29th, when presented with a one school proposal (one included in the study), the Director of the MSBA stated the only option that would be considered is for two schools. So we are faced with an all or nothing option at this time. The State Receiver said in one public meeting that if the project did not move forward he would develop an alternate plan. There is always more than one way to achieve a goal. While those who have come forward to share the impact of a 132 Million dollar debt exclusion vote have been largely ignored, it does not change the reality of the situation. This project must be looked at in the context of our entire city.

The number of non tax paying properties is increasing in our city every year This will place an increased burden on existing taxpayers.

We now have a city budget reflecting a 5+% increase. Those paying for the budget are receiving 1-2% increases if they are lucky, with many living on a fixed income trying to stay in their homes; others working two jobs to pay the rent or keep their home. Only eight (8) of thirteen (13) City Councilors attended the budget hearing before the budget votes took place. Our largest taxpayer will be hugely affected by a debt exclusion override. The GM of the Holyoke Mall has shared with us that this would cause “severe hardship”. Small businesses are sharing that they are squeezed with the new mandated benefits along with tax increases, sewer rate increases, CPA tax etc. Our average income is $37,000 per year. If this was only $240.00 each year for each tax payer it would be affordable. The reality is the increase would range from $240.00 each year for a taxpayer with a house of average value to over $600,000 each year for our largest tax payer.
Other communities who have had these ballot questions placed do not have the same demographics as we do.

In addition to this consideration are the debts we have already incurred but have not yet started to pay. We have not yet received this information. Our Auditor put a summary together so that we can better understand the costs of long term financial commitments we have already made. They total approximately 52M. The school debt would exceed that for the entire city!

We have 10,100 property tax payers and 25,000 registered voters.
I disagree that the current proposal is the ONLY option available for us to improve our schools. We already have many vacant buildings in our city and do not need any more. We are renovating Lyman Terrace rather than tearing it down. We need to re-look at renovations of our schools and improved use of underutilized schools such as Dean.

The current proposal before us represents an ideal situation if we had the money set aside or a plan to fund the projects. Having neither of these and a shrinking tax base due to an increasing number of non taxable entities buying properties in our city and only $500,000 in growth projected next year for our city, this is the wrong time and too expensive for all of our taxpayers.
When you don’t have money for the ideal plan, you have to step back and create a realistic plan.

Linda Vacon
City Councilor Ward 5
533-6498
Finished reading, close text

John Aubin, Holyoke resident, architect and builder:
I am voting NO on November 5th to the two new middle school proposal.
Improving our schools is a daunting task that requires hard work and hard choices that go well beyond our public school system. The two new middle school proposal has been irresponsibly conceived and designed without regard to cost or the different populations they are destined to serve. It will give the appearance of change without addressing the fundamental issues affecting our children’s education or our community. This proposal will also result in an across the board 6.8% tax increase which will severely curtail economic development and perpetuate the concentrated poverty at the root of many of these issues.
I support improving our schools including renovating existing school or other buildings, building one new middle school, or a combination of these done within the city of Holyoke’s existing budget and as part of comprehensive plan that includes addressing poverty and segregation in our community and in our schools.
Wilmer Puello, City Council Candidate:
“As a product of the Holyoke Public Schools I’m proud to say that they absolutely work when we set goals and strive to achieve them. This tax override proposes to further strain our businesses and residents while failing to adequately address what our students actually need. We must stand up for our children’s future and unanimously reject this 30 year burden, vote no!

Keith Davis, Holyoke Taxpayer:
"Enough is enough! The schools are already in receivership. Do we want the City to end up that way also? Did you know that a Prop 2 1/2 Override means that the City will be "double dipping" in collecting taxes. Why? Because an increase in our property tax will mean the CPA fee we pay will also be going up as it's based on a percentage of your tax bill. Seriously look at the alternatives such as renovation. We all know that success in education is not from the building, it's from the quality of the teachers and the curriculum. Please Vote NO November 5th!"