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Joseph Laplante: Praise for column on Northampton override and ‘quality of life’

To the editor:

I enjoy a well-turned phrase, so it was an unvarnished pleasure to read Adam Fisher’s guest column offering perspective on Tuesday’s override vote. Everything is right about Fisher’s beautifully written commentary; its tone, pacing, word choice and, at bottom, substance make his piece refrigerator door worthy.

None of us can feel deeply satisfied about the recent override vote, no matter which side we may support. Our local, state and federal tax and spending systems are pretty rotted and everyone realizes this override is a Band-Aid fix.

Fisher’s piece eloquently builds a framework of civic life and public good which all of us can see ourselves fitting into, and moving through, as we and our families age. His excellent writing not only presents a logical and accurate perspective which balances the emotionally loaded pros and cons of the override, but goes beyond to remove the sting from the opposing beliefs and actions that cast neighbors asunder.

Here’s where we are: We’ve bought ourselves another three years to figure out how to fix our collective revenue problem, or alternately, lower our expectations for publicly provided services.

First, let’s cut through the drama — the $200 to $300 per homeowner per year in new property taxes we’ve just voted ourselves will probably not kill anyone. The $5 to $6 per week hit to our household budget may be annoying and perhaps cause us to think twice about ordering Friday night pizza, but it will not force a trade-off in the necessary food, shelter and prescription medicine even those of us on the tightest fixed income will continue to purchase.

But also let’s not kid ourselves. Sooner or later throwing in local tax money to backfill the rotten tax-and-spend system, with no progress toward a structural fix, may become (forgive my lazy word choice) unsustainable.

Joseph Laplante

Leeds

Yes, we've bought time to come to our senses and make hard decisions. But no, that $200 to $300 per year (added to ever increasing grocery prices, medical care, etc.) really is the tipping point for the people on low fixed incomes who have already exhausted all conceivable trade offs between shelter, food, and medicine. If we want others to be realistic about budget decisions, we need to be realistic about their consequences -- not just for ourselves, but for everyone.

Yep.

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