Once again, the Board of Selectmen debated the Shuffle on Monday — this time it was about installing a natural gas line at the new location of the Board of Education, 35 Leroy Ave.
It wasn’t about the benefits of natural gas but whether the approximately $120,000 cost should come out of the Shuffle budget, or the Board of Finance’s infrastructure contingency.
After the long political history of the Shuffle project that will result in the senior center moving to Town Hall and the Board of Education moving to 35 Leroy Ave., it is hard to tell whether debates are based in concern for taxpayer money vs. the hope for schadenfreude — satisfaction in others’ failure. In this case, others would be political opponents.
There always could be a real concern for the taxpayers’ dollar in the debate over the Shuffle.
But there are no concrete dollars to worry about until the bids come back on the project in September. Until then, there’s no way to know whether the Shuffle is over budget, under budget, on budget. There’s no real analysis to be made.
While it would certainly prove the many naysayers right if the Shuffle project should come in over budget, there’s just no way to know yet.
However, there are currently some concrete numbers.
The Representative Town Meeting approved a $6.9 million appropriation for the project.
The town has already earned $400,000 back on the approximately $4 million purchase price of the former library building, because, despite previous criticism for doing so, the building is being used for an education facility.
There is a possiblity for another $200,000 in state money back, but like the final bids for the Shuffle, that is still not final.
Whatever the motivation to determine the financial state of the Shuffle, it is unlikely that the gas line will make much of an impact.
And if there’s going to be a debate, at least wait until there are actual dollars to debate about before determining a judgement on the project’s fiscal accountability.