Dear Reading Neighbors:
On October 18th, we will decide whether or not to approve a tax override. We’ve learned that for several years, due primarily to rising health care premiums and new mandates, our costs have risen faster than our revenues, which by law can not increase more than 2.5% a year. We’ve seen how town and school administrators have managed to balance budgets by increasing efficiency, raising fees, and even cutting programs and staff. I admire how effectively we’ve “done more with less.” But quite simply we’re at the point where we either need to pay “more” or accept “less”: fewer teachers, police officers, firefighters, and town services.
For many of us, the decision to pay more in taxes is difficult, especially if our own incomes have stagnated or we’ve disagreed with past spending decisions. But our town’s budget processes are transparent; our town officials have been forthcoming with data and our leaders—paid and elected—clearly strive to listen to residents and do what they believe is best for the town. Therefore, I have decided to vote yes on the override question, and ask you to as well.
There are pragmatic reasons to invest in our community: strong schools, effective public safety, predictable town services, and well-maintained infrastructure improve our quality of life and make our town a desirable place to live, which protects our property values. But there’s a less tangible but more fundamental reason too: we’re all in this together.
We’re all in this together. Some who don’t have children in our schools or don’t plan to sell their homes might be tempted to think of the override as “not relevant to me.” But in fact the plight of our neighbors is relevant to all of us. That’s why I support Town Meeting members’ decision to approve a proposal to grant tax relief for our most vulnerable seniors. I am not a vulnerable senior now and may never be, but perhaps my neighbor will, and I will want her to remain in her home and be a presence in my community. Another neighbor’s child might well become my EMT, my firefighter, my police officer, or my doctor. Maybe my own grandchildren will grow up in this town if it remains all that it is today. I have a stake in funding town services and quality education not only for those who live here today but also for those who will live here tomorrow. That’s why I voted for an override before I had children, will vote for this one, and intend to vote for them after my own children have graduated.
Please invest in our community by voting “yes” for Reading on October 18th.
Sherri VandenAkker, Ph.D.
271 Summer Ave
Reading, MA 01867