The year is 2014. Grafton has decided that it can’t afford to pay for quality schools based on what it has budgeted. The community bands together to pass a tax override to give schools more than they would have received under proposition 2.5.
The year is 2016 . The town government has done absolutely nothing since 2014 to address the fact that it is expending, on a regular basis, much more than it was taking in on an annual basis for revenue. In fact, when confronted by voters with evidence of a “structural deficit”, elected officials claimed not to know what that was. They claim not to “know a lot” about schools but pledge to learn and continue to “make game time decisions” to solve the problem.
The year is 2018. There have been no “game time decisions.” Five-year projections have Grafton at a very serious operational deficit without a serious influx of funds, which the Town expects will come from economic development. Some doubt that those commercial development projections are realistic. It turns out that they aren’t realistic at all and now Grafton has to make up a million dollars in operational funds to make ends meet.
The year is 2019. Two selectmen are up for election, one of whom is no longer seeking his seat. In political terms, the entire future of a five person board is up in the air where it is generally considered to be a 3-2 affair on a week-to-week basis.
The year is 2020. The voting block on the board of selectmen doesn’t change at all. The School Committee proposes an override. The Board of Selectmen fails to support it. Substantial budget cuts are made town wide, affecting Grafton’s educational system in particular.
The year is 2020. The Board of Selectmen enthusiastically support another override for FY2021. The community, having heard that the former override was for employee raises, shoots it down. Bruce Spinney does not seek reelection.
The year is 2021, the schools let go of a substantial amount of staff. Homes sit on the market and roads go unrepaired. Non-union municipal center employees have their job responsibilities increased and their pay slashed. “REALL” Graftonites rejoice at the $100 that they have saved per year in taxes. Ed Prisby does not seek reelection.
The year is 2025. The Grafton middle class has sought greener pastures, in keeping with Graton’s investment in their properties. The middle class begins to vacate the town for communities closer to their jobs, or places that have made investments in education. Local property values sink. Taxes rise anyway.
The year is 2029. Grafton is a failed community, whose property values have declined in the face of reluctance to invest in education and commercial development. Potholes dominate. Vacant store windows tell the story. Schools begin to fail. Commuters relocate to greener pastures.
The year is 2040. 2019 is the “good old days” when we had a choice about where this all was going.
The year is 2019. Grafton has a choice about the direction it will head in. It chooses…