Rescue funds can already build new fire station; vote ‘no’

Rescue funds can already build new fire station; vote ‘no’

Smithfield taxpayers should reject both bond issue questions Nov. 6 – one for $45 million and the second for $4.5 million – that will be placed on the ballot. Both bond issues lack a common-sense business approach toward town improvements. Bond approval will cause excessive property tax increases and will harm our town’s financial stability.

As an example, the additional fire station proposal ($4.5 million) is not necessary because extra fire department services could be self-financed over time without any significant borrowed cost to Smithfield taxpayers. Extra fire and rescue services in the Route 7 area has merit and is worthy of discussion. However, this proposal will have an interest cost of $2,227,500, which will bring the total cost to $6,727,500.

Adding fire and rescue services could be self-financed from the fire department’s rescue billing account. These monies are reimbursements to Smithfield from health insurance companies for rescue services. Since these services are already paid for through the fire department’s budget approved at the Financial Town Meeting, these funds are all extra revenue for our town.

Funds in that rescue billing account accumulate very quickly and should be transferred into a fire department capital account and allowed to accumulate in order to increase capital improvements to the fire department.

Recently, the Town Council took $1.1 million from the rescue billing account and applied that amount to the last budget with no objection from the fire chief. That total equals almost 25 percent of the cost of the proposed fire bond issue. That total should have been transferred in a capital account instead of being used toward the budget. We could avoid a substantial amount of interest cost.

There could be many ways to finance fire department improvements without any significant taxpayer liability. Both bond issues should be rejected by Smithfield voters. A common-sense business approach should be applied to all town improvements.

Paul Aiello

Smithfield

Aiello is a former town councilor.