Underground Utilities Downtown

posted Aug 26, 2010, 1:42 PM by Graydon Smith
Would you spend 1.1 Million Dollars to put 3 Blocks of Utilities underground?  How about $70?

The town council is going to be scheduling a public hearing as part of the downtown renovation project to discuss just that.  See the pink shaded area on the map below.  The proposal is to borrow the money for the project, then recoup the money from the townspeople in the form of Surcharges on your electric and cable bills.  The estimated cost of the project is about 1.1 Million and that translates to a surcharges of about $70 per household spread out over a couple of years.  The property owners in the affected area would also have to pick up the tab for reconnecting their buildings to the electric utility.

At this point, we are months removed from a failed override, where the voters of Franklin narrowly rejected additional spending for Schools, Roads and Public Safety, which are arguably much higher priorities than the ascetics of burying 3 blocks of utilities downtown.  It is unreasonable to assume the voters would support this initiative.

The council should not just push this through, just because the happen to have an alternative financing option (utility surcharges) for this particular type of project.  This would essentially be a back door tax not subject to voter approval.

The council is looking for feedback and public comments.  I suggest we provide it.  You can find the contact information for the town council here: http://franklinma.virtualtownhall.net/Pages/FranklinMA_Council/index 

Graydon Smith