Vote yes on bonds; repairs will not get any cheaper

Time may heal all wounds — but that doesn’t apply to old buildings. Time just makes them worse and more expensive.

That’s the case with Wrangell’s school buildings and Public Safety Building, which are all three or four decades old. All are showing the signs of rot, mildew, ventilation, roof and siding problems, in addition to boilers, fire alarm panels and other safety features that need a contractor’s care. The only thing that lasts forever in a rain forest without maintenance is the muskeg.

After years of dodging the costly building repairs and upgrades, the borough assembly decided — unanimously — to seek voter approval to issue up to $12 million in bonds for Wrangell’s share of the work. The hope is that the state will contribute $6.5 million toward the school project.

No one likes borrowing money but issuing bonds and paying back the debt at an affordable interest rate over 20 years is the smart way to finance the repairs. The borough is doing well on sales tax revenues. It is receiving more money from the federal government as compensation for all the national forest land that is off the property tax rolls. It can use more of the investment earnings from its savings account. The state is paying more on its lease for jail space in the Public Safety Building. And the borough just received $291,566 it never expected to get from the state, owed to the borough when the state short-funded reimbursement on past school debt 2017-2021.

The borough paid off the last of its bonds three years ago.

The borough is in the best shape it’s going to be to take on debt for the building projects.

The work is needed; the problem is not going away; and voting “no” isn’t going to solve the problem. The Sentinel recommends a “yes” vote on Oct. 4.

— Wrangell Sentinel


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