Opinion: Mount Abe bond plan leaves many questions unanswered

As the person who asked the question at the last forum held on Oct. 27. “Past behavior/history is a precursor for future behavior/history.” I asked after the board itself acknowledged that a bond in this district has never passed on the first try.
Why there is no Plan B? The response: “If this does not pass there is nothing else,” is unacceptable. What is wrong with using the conceptual cost breakdown and coming up with Plan B? Why does this have to be an all-or-nothing for this board? As a board they never asked themselves the question what if this bond doesn’t pass? Are there any other options other than this $33 million bond number?
The fact the bond is based off a loose concept is different than any other bond vote they have ever presented in the past. Voters in the past knew exactly what they were buying for the vote. A concrete plan with a concrete number.
The fact that the board stated at the Oct. 27 meeting that the concept will change over time is remarkable. The expectation the community will vote on a mere concept and a tug at the heartstrings fascinating. The idea that the concept is changeable after the vote perplexing.
These so called changes will occur once the actual architecture firm is hired to draft $1 million-plus in construction plans that the construction firms will then bid on. Then the actual contractors will be hired and work will start.
So this bond is based on a loose concept? Who knows, maybe once real plans are drawn up the number will decrease? Who knows, once real plans are drawn up the number will skyrocket? According to the board they can spend no more that $32.6 million they are bonding. But in all sincerity has the community ever seen any board or government agency give back money if they have a savings? No, they spend it some where else in the budget.
In fact, when asked how they funded the initial conceptual drawings and estimates the superintendent stated the Addison Northeast Supervisory Union got out of the bus business so we had money from bus sales and bus maintenance savings. Excellent. Ever give a thought to giving that dough back to the taxpayers? Or using it for some of the school repairs? Nope. He stated they spent $35,000 for one batch of work, then another $35,000, then $10,000 for something he said he was unsure of.
But to be fair, please remember this community forum was kind of loosely put together based on previous meetings’ attendance and delicately asked questions. Mostly pro folks in attendance for the last three years of meetings surveys and tours. I think the board and superintendent’s office folks were slightly overwhelmed by the large crowd. Seventy-five plus people and the tough questions being asked. They held up well to the scrutiny but were flustered at times. The actual numbers being tallied while the crowd waiting for answers.
I still continue to ask myself as many others are. Why is this board so adamant they can’t slow the process down and and give the community time to catch up to them? Why can’t we have a Plan B? I get passion for a project but when you are working as a board with taxpayer money and a number this large, it is important to really listen to all ideas.
I get that they think they have listened over the last three years but the last two weeks may have shown it was in a vacuum. Since they made public the bond would be on the Nov. 4 ballot they have gotten an onslaught of ideas and questions.
The point is the problems at the school haven’t just happened overnight they have been there a long time. At this time there is no state or federal matching funds for this project, as stated by the superintendent, so what is the harm with taking a breather and looking for a middle ground. You never know what creative out-of-the-box idea may just save the community millions of dollars.
The idea of voting for a concept will be put to the test on Nov. 4. Please get out and vote no matter what your vote is.
Check out the conceptual cost estimate for yourself: http://bit.ly/1tTUfVI.
Jodi Lathrop

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