Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Tax system is flawed

Published in tonight's Sentinel and permission given to reprint here:

For you individuals that belittle this man and his efforts to bring fairness to all of the people of Winchester regarding your tax burden, read his words well and take heed.

In supporting the needs of our local government and schools, the revenue for these expenditures are levied on the property owners. This tax rate is determined by gathering revenue from other sources (vehicle tax, timber tax, permits etc, state revenue sharing) of which is subtracted from the requested revenue by town and school. The difference that remains is levied on the property owner. This means each year as the revenue request increases this cost increases is levied against the property owners only. This way of taxation which is at a flexible rate depending on needs and requests in a certain year. In a period of raising expenditures the tendency is to raise the rate on the property owner faster than any other tax, this tax increase does not take a legislation battle to change year to year. On the other hand the state has a fixed rate of gathering revenue. The state tax rate remains stable except in times of increased needs and requires a legislation battle to change. This is not true with the property tax. Local government relies on the elected officials to be honest about their needs with the tax payers. Greedy local governments, special interest groups and individuals can levy unneeded cost simply by collecting 10 signatures to file warrant articles to be placed on a ballot, well knowing mostly the special interest will show up to vote. This places most property owners at a disadvantage, allowing a few to dictate the increased tax rate for the many when these people know only 21 percent of the registered voters will show up to vote. What a state of disarray we would become if only 21 percent of our state Legislature showed up to vote and pass laws. To get fair taxation with representation at least 51 percent of registered voters must vote on the warrant articles before any increases could be levied on the property owners.
Last year the Winchester Budget Committee became responsible and cut the town’s request to increase the burden on the property owner. The state legislated the towns shall have a balanced budget. Last year, the Winchester Budget Committee worked many hours on the town budgets until finally voting on a budget that was honest to the town’s needs and fair to the property tax owners. Then at Winchester’s deliberative session, the selectmen were furious over the budget committee’s budget, and attempted to nullify the budget committee’s decision. For once, this time the selectmen failed in their attempt to get the voters to fall for their devious and scheming attempt to circumvent the budget committee to accomplish their selfish needs.
The Legislature mandated budget committees to be a independent entity process and not be overruled by five selectmen’s agenda or having to require more oversight. Yes, the budget committee includes a voting selectmen member, and that should be the limit of their influence. The system is broken. The selectmen, in their attempt to get their own greedy way, petitioned the state and had the budget committee decision reversed and the money restored to their town’s budget How fair is this to the voters if their choice of budget committee members can be overruled by a state agency that does not own one piece of property in Winchester or does not understands how manipulating a town government can be.
This year, the selectmen, in another and different approach in their attempts to control the budget committee, are presenting a warrant article to reduce the number of members elected to the budget committee from seven to five. This is still another attempt by the selectmen to eliminate people on the budget committee that push back on spending.
These flexible taxes are unfair and more revenue should come from the state Legislature, instead of being controlled by greedy self-serving people.
Robert Davis
893 Old Westport Road

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