Bessemer can't afford taking on more debt
To the Editor:
My name is Kim Wright and I am a member of the Bessemer Area School Board. First, I want to encourage every voter in Bessemer and its townships to vote yes or no on our schools’ May 7 bond proposal. I am writing to explain why I voted no by absentee ballot, not to persuade others to do likewise.
We all cherish our wonderful community and its schools. We all take great pride in our faculty and our students’ achievements, and we all have one vote to cast. What we don’t have is a bottomless pit of taxpayers’ money. What money we do have must be spent wisely and precisely.
We are being asked to approve a new bond of roughly $6.7 million. With interest added, the amount nearly doubles. This debt would be added onto our schools’ considerable existing debt.
Moreover, the city has many needs too. Our streets require much repair and maintenance and our water and sewer systems are aging just the same. This work will eventually require additional public funding too.
Added together, a heavy burden would be placed on our aging population with a large percentage of our residents living on a fixed income. Can we afford to take on this kind of debt? The answer is no, we can’t. The larger issue is we don’t have to.
Our schools are aging, and some repairs are needed, but we already have reasonable funding options available to us. I brought the issue up regarding a “Plan B” during my first board meeting in January. One such option suggested is simply extending our current bond that would add time and more payments, but not increase what our taxpayers are currently paying now per month. There are others too that I received by email from the superintendent after inquiring of him.
Our schools have what we need most: an outstanding faculty. It’s been years since teachers have had their last raise. That is something I would like to see someday, even if it’s a small one.
Please know this. However the vote goes in May, I will vigorously support the people’s choice either way it goes. From there, we’ll move forward together.