To the editor:
By the latest information available from the federal Bureau of Labor Statistics, the unemployment rate in Tiverton was 9.8% in March. The comparable number for Rhode Island is 9.1%. (These aren’t seasonally adjusted, so they are different from what’s usually reported in the news.) For the country as a whole, it was 6.8%.
That comparison was foremost in my mind when I submitted a budget petition — which Tiverton residents can vote on at the financial town referendum on May 20 — to have no tax increase this year. In fact, most homeowners should see their property taxes go down.
Here’s some historical perspective: When we were preparing for the financial town meeting in March 2001, there were 8,019 employed people in Tiverton. Right now it’s 8,061, only 42 people more. Back then, $18.7 million was enough to run the town government — less than half the $38.1 million they want to spend next year.
Between the 2000 U.S. Census and the Census Bureau’s 2012 estimate, Tiverton’s population barely grew and our household income barely kept pace with inflation. Tiverton has not grown, and its population has not gotten any wealthier. So why are we paying so much more for government?
Yes, expenses grow for government, but expenses grow for our families, too. There’s no reason that government should become a bigger priority for your family each and every year than your own needs.
The simple fact is that the budget I submitted, Budget #2, gives the town and the school department everything they said they needed for next year and then some. It just takes back enough of the taxes that they didn’t need in recent years to give us all a break.
Those who want to make government a bigger priority for your family give all sorts of excuses that this money ought to sit in the town’s bank account and not yours. They don’t need it. They have enough.
The recent economic recovery has barely been felt by most people, and eventually even this “recovery” will come to an end and we’ll have a downturn. I’ve been pointing it out for years, but it is now front-page news in the Providence Journal that Rhode Islanders are leaving the state.
We need to give our neighbors some breathing space so they can catch up to the demands that the government is making on them. We need to return our priorities to where they should be.