Letter: Yes for (an override in) Reading

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Yes for (an override in) Reading

A wise man once said, you can’t know where you’re going until you know where you’ve been…

Let’s take a look at what has put us in the position we are today – not enough tax revenue to keep up with the rising cost of running a community – we are hamstrung by an antiquated state law that limits property taxes called Proposition 2 ½.

Proposition 2 ½ went into effect in 1982 and placed a 2.5% ceiling on total property tax revenues annually as well as a 2.5% limit on property tax increases.

In 1982, this made sense: Massachusetts had the benefit of an unusually strong economy, declining school enrollment, and a system of effectively targeted school aid from the state, allowing municipalities to operate with less revenue. This is no longer the case in 2018.

This law has arbitrarily constrained local governments’ ability to raise revenues without any consideration of the actual cost of providing services and has made local governments heavily dependent on state aid, which tends to fluctuate with economic cycles and state policies.

In addition to the above, inflation has historically been above 2.5% for a significant majority of the years since 1982 – thus resulting in an actual decline in local tax rates, municipality income, and local spending ability.

We have new costs that are essential to running a community that didn’t even exist in 1982: computer and technology infrastructure, increased special education requirements, and last but not least – skyrocketing healthcare costs.

We can’t improve services, let alone keep up with standard we were providing in the previous years – we just keep cutting.

We need our first responders, we need our town services, we need our senior services, and we need our schools.

Regardless of how perfectly or imperfectly you may think every dollar is managed, the bottom line is revenue is not keeping up with cost of goods and services.

And if you’re not happy about how every dollar is managed – realize there is a revenue issue regardless. Resign yourself to the fact we need more revenue, pass the override, then get involved –run for the school board, run for selectmen, vote, get involved.

The average household in Reading with a value of $569,000 would see their taxes increase somewhere in the neighborhood of $540 per year. To put it in simple terms, that is less than $1.50 per day. Most people spend double that on a cup of coffee each day. Isn’t your town worth that?

We aren’t reinventing the wheel here – cities and towns just like Reading have been passing overrides for years to make sure they can provide adequate funding not just to run their communities, but improve them.

Let me be clear – I hate taxes. I am a fiscal conservative. But taxes are much more controllable on the local level and we will feel the direct impact as opposed to the check we cut to the feds each year.

And seniors who are on fixed incomes, there is tax relief available should you find hardship with the override – you can contact the assessor’s office for more information.

People typically don’t recognize a problem exists until they feel pain – so, it truly hasn’t hit home for everyone in Reading – why wait until it does?

Vote Yes for Reading. 

Michael Fusco
32 Emerald Drive

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