Bonnie MacCracken: When it comes to Jones Library, don’t be fooled by ‘glossy mailers’

Wednesday, March 18, 2020

Have you ever received one of those glossy mailers from a car dealership, trying to entice you to trade in your beloved old, but reliable, car, with cash offers or special financing if you buy a new model?

These enticing offers often come to mind when I look at the numbers for the proposed $49 million Jones Library renovation. Of this amount, the Massachusetts Board of Library Commissioners would pay only $13.87 million. The town would be responsible for the remaining $36 million.

This remaining amount will affect our tax bills for some 30 years, longer than any car loan. They will affect our beloved, historic Jones Library forever.

Before tossing these “special financing offers and deals” into the recycling bin, I do sit and ponder and ask what if. What would it be like to have a shiny new car, seat warmers and all-wheel drive? After looking at my budget, I occasionally run the numbers, comparing my recent car repair bills against car payments. I have even gone to a few of these sales events to kick a few tires, to test drive the new models, and run the numbers with the salesperson.

With their offers in hand, I return home to reality. My car might be a little older than my neighbors’. It might not have the extra computer, or extra seating. But even so, it’s mine. It's paid for and I am familiar with how it operates. There are no extra fees other than to maintain it. It does what I rely on it to do.

The best part about ignoring these glossy mailers is that my budget will continue to cover my necessities and allow a little extra for my rainy-day fund. As an Amherst taxpayer, I cannot support an expansion of the Jones Library until we take care of the necessities — a new fire station and new schools, and even, if we’re careful, a little extra for a rainy day.

Bonnie MacCracken