Town residents are in the process of voting, with a November 7th deadline, for a congressional candidate, and locally, for a town bond to build a new police station, with an amount not to exceed $18 million. We have repeatedly stated that we are supporters of the fine women and men of the North Smithfield Police Department, and our reluctance to move forward with this bond is in no way associated with any lack of admiration for our department. Our responsibility lies within walking a fine line between what is essential, what can be afforded and what should be modified to address the needs of all (of) the community.
The current bond language, in our opinion, does not provide a clear path to voters and is confusing at best, which is why we attempted to remove it from the ballot, and provide a more concise question that clearly articulates the will of each voter. The other consideration is the low voter turnout during a special election. Many residents will wake up on November 8th to learn that they are now responsible for the repayment of a bond that may increase their annual taxes up to $377, for 20 years. That increase will be in addition to any regularly scheduled tax increases to operate the town in an efficient manner. For some, there is little or no fiscal impact, yet for others, including young families, older retirees and those who are not gifted with a substantial income, the impact could be quite significant and burdensome.
We have asked the administration for a forecast of our town expenses and income for many months, but as of this writing, have no further information that can make our decision to vote for this bond one that is based in fact and concrete numbers. This is akin to buying a new house and not knowing what your expenses and income will be prior to the purchase, but blindly going with an emotional decision that could prove to be overwhelming.
We ask that voters consider all the facts before voting. We are advocating that this bond question be rejected and to allow the Town Council to review other options, including renovation, resubmit a more detailed question that is clear and concise, provide accurate fiscal impact, and place the question on the presidential ballot for November 2024, with a solid game plan that addresses needs and focuses on payment ability.
Paulette D. Hamilton
Paulette Hamilton is a member of the North Smithfield Town Council and Kimberly Alves is the council president.