City needs a sensible approach to spending
I sit on the board for three non-profit organizations, and each has a contingency fund, which is money set aside for emergencies. I was shocked to read in The Telegraph on Aug. 10 that the alderman approved taking $36,000 from the city’s contingency fund for a possible year-long option to buy the former Alec’s Shoe building to create a performing arts center at a cost of more than $15 million. That is NOT an emergency!
The city wants to bond the $15.5 million, which means more than $550,999 will come out of the city’s operating budget each year for the next 30 years. The aldermen admit that the Arts Center will not be self-sustaining, requiring approximately $1 million each year to run, and will require subsidies to keep it operational. That means additional funds coming from the city budget. This city has more pressing needs that could use that $1 million annually. There have been numerous articles about the tight city budget, the spending cap and the city services in need of funding, such as fighting the opioid crisis as well as the infrastructure needs. Don’t forget the huge amount of money potentially necessary to renovate the Burke Street property for the Department of Public Works. A project that we were told initially would be $10-$12 million to renovate is now closer to $50 million.
Continually raising property taxes is not a viable solution for our city. People on fixed incomes are penalized each time their property taxes go up, as they are forced to cut back in other areas to pay the taxes. Why then, would you take a valuable piece of real estate on Main Street off the tax roll by creating a city-owned arts center?
Who will this really benefit? When I asked members of the Nashua Symphony if they could use the building, I was told the stage was too small for the symphony. Why not take some of this money and fix the air conditioning at Keefe Auditorium, which is a great venue for the symphony?
Since moving to Nashua, I always have supported the arts and will continue to, but we need a sensible approach to spending in this city. The aldermen need to take a look at their priorities. There are necessities in life, and there are nice things to have. A center for the arts would be nice, but it certainly is not a necessity.