The townwide referendum scheduled for July 30 gives our residents and property owners the rare opportunity to weigh in on a proposed financial commitment that has the potential to significantly impact our community for many years to come, and this is an opportunity not to be missed.
Whether you agree or disagree, our town leadership has concluded that we should have a new community center, and the best location and choice of offerings has already been chosen. So to be clear, the referendum is not specifically a vote on whether or not we should have a new community center in Irondequoit.
Instead, the vote is to answer the ballot question, more or less, “Should the town of Irondequoit authorize and incur $7.25 million in additional debt, by issuing municipal bonds, to finance the build-out of a new community center at the Skyview on the Ridge location as has been proposed?”
In other words, as taxpayers, we will be voting on whether we give permission to town leadership to incur $7.25 million of new debt — and obligate us all as taxpayers to repay that debt through a tax increase — to “finance” the current community center proposal. Technically speaking, as a town, we do not currently have the money to pay for the proposed new community center, so the ballot question is whether residents approve of our borrowing the money instead to pay for it.
It is worth noting that the proposed community center will enjoy a rent-free lease at Skyview on the Ridge, the former mall, but it is equally worth noting that the town will not acquire or be given any ownership in the property/real estate it will occupy. That is to say, what is proposed is a debt issuance payable by taxpayers to substantially and materially improve a privately owned property without the town retaining any residual ownership interest (or title) to that taxpayer-improved property.
If you are comfortable with this financial arrangement and feel the benefits outweigh the costs, vote yes on July 30. If you are not comfortable with this financial arrangement and feel the costs outweigh the benefits, vote no on July 30. Either way, this referendum is not a conceptual vote but instead a financial vote, just like the annual school budget votes that are yes/no financial votes.
Again, please remember we’re not voting on whether Irondequoit should have a community center, we’re voting specifically on whether the town has provided the right financial path to making the proposed community center happen. But regardless of your position, please vote on July 30!