To the editor:
Thank you to the people of Tiverton, who voted at the Financial Town Referendum (FTR) on May 20 to hold the line on taxes this coming year. It will be a direct relief to our struggling neighbors, and hopefully it will also prove to be a turning point toward new priorities that put the people who live in town before the government that operates it.
On one online forum or other, somebody asked why 698 people would vote to raise their own taxes. It’s a reasonable question, but I think there’s a more accurate way to frame it.
No one has to vote to increase his or her own taxes. If each of the 698 people who voted for the Budget Committee’s budget were to donate $100 to the town, it would immediately raise $69,800. Will they do so? Not likely.
At the end of the day, a vote to raise taxes is a vote to raise taxes on other people — on everybody else. It’s a vote to require people who live paycheck to paycheck to cut something else out of their lives.
Before the FTR, the argument for raising taxes was that the town needed the extra surplus in its bank account — even beyond the 3% the town charter requires — in order to prepare for emergencies and improve the credit rating of future debt. Council Member Jay Lambert and the gang that puts red circles on all their signs actually attacked me for suggesting that the government wanted the money in order to spend it.
Now all of a sudden, returning the surplus to taxpayers is a “hole,” and some government officials, including Council President Edward Roderick, are warning of a huge tax increase next year to make up for it. But how can there be a hole to fill if the money wasn’t going to be spent? And how is increasing taxes the only way to fill a hole? What about reducing spending?
It sounds to me like the folks who spend the town’s money are mainly concerned with getting everything back in line with their priorities next year, not the people’s priorities.
Whatever their intentions, there’s an election between now and the next budget. Hopefully, we’ll have candidates with the same priorities as the people.
In the meantime, let’s enjoy our state’s beautiful spring-through-autumn season and all of the wonderful things that led us to choose Tiverton as our home.