Vote in favor of the High School bond

South Kingstown needs a new High School. The current building is too old, too big, and too costly to maintain or to renovate. For three years the Town and the School Committee have been working toward a replacement. This is a long process but one that has been done with much commununity eguagement and open meetings. At this time we have the benefit that the Rhode Island Department of Education will contribute $81M towards the new school. This contribution, however, is not forever and we risk loosing it if we don't act soon. The $150M cost is a better estimate than the $125M of just a year ago. (Construction costs in RI are very high due, in part, to a labor shortage.) The $150M will be borrowed over 4 years and paid back over 20 years. For the average house in SK that means approximatly a $60/year increase in taxes until all the money is borrowed for a final $318 increase in taxes for the remaining period of the loan. (Ie, $60, $120, $180, $240, $318, $318, ...) For my house that works out to be 3 weeks of extra tax payments, hardly something to be concerned about.

With that said, this $318/year is in addition to the normal increase in property tax. The tax increase is between 1.2% and 1.7% per year. SK runs a very tight operation. (Narragansett, for example, is at 4%.) For my house that's a $60 to $80 per year increase. So, in 4 years I will be paying several hundred dollars more in taxes. I am not indifferent to this being a significant increase for those on a fixed income. (It will not be long before I am amongst them.) But it is also far less than other communities are seeing.

South Kingstown continues to attract new residents and tourists from all around New England. Our tax base is growing and, if we are prepared, we can increase our commerical as well as residential tax base. There is much reason to expect our tax payments to remain well within an acceptable amount for all the benifits we have living here. If my house was in Richmond, just a few miles inland, I would be paying 50% more in property taxes. I much prefer living just minutes from the ocean. I suspect you do too.

Please vote in favor of the High School bond. You can vote at the Town Hall now or on May 7 at your polling station.

Update: I have seen and heard statements that taxes will increase by over $1,000 by 2030. The implication being that this increase is due to the High School bond. The reality is that over $700 of that increase is just normal increases in Town and School spending.