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Jim Reis: Consider city’s residents as well as its services

To the editor:

The recent tax override decision made in Northampton was a very difficult one for people on both sides of the issue. We live in a wonderful city with exceptional citizen support for all residents and for good schools and other services.

This support, though, does require substantial financial resources. This vote to increase taxes has been divisive, given the number of overrides. Income disparity is increasing and people on fixed incomes are challenged to support these increases. If we want to continue to be the kind of exceptional community that supports all of its citizens we need to address a number of questions: Should more be done to exempt or reduce the tax increases for people on fixed incomes? How can more of us advocate for increased state and federal aid? Should the city and the schools further reduce expenditures?

As someone who voted for the increase, I am very concerned about those people on fixed incomes who really are in an extremely difficult position to support these increases even if they would like to. We want to be a community that provides quality services, but also one that is committed to supporting all of its residents.

Jim Reis

Northampton

Legacy Comments4

Only problem is, the city isn't allowed to tax income. I think we all agree that that is the way to fairly tax people (which is why the state and federal govts do that). We need to work together to get that reform on the state level. Until then, all we have is the regressive property tax.

Well said, Mr. Reis. Perhaps the answer lies in taxing people on what they can afford in proportion to their income. So, someone who makes $150,000 a year would pay a higher percentage of the override tax than someone else who makes $50,000 per year. That would be more equitable. And businesses and corporations and renters should also have to kick in - then everyone would feel the the pain. And pain there is.

Bravo! Excellent questions!

You raise interesting questions about the future challenges facing Northampton and our ability to pay for our community's needs. I particularly agree with you that we need to do more to lighten the tax burden on the city's lower wage earners. Relying on property tax overrides, I think we should all agree, is the most destructive remedy. I was curious why you didn't suggest increasing the amount of taxes that the more well to do in our community should be asked to contribute, including affluent sponsors of the override, Smith College and the large corporations in town that receive tax subsidies. As long as these imbalances continuing to exist, the divisiveness and rancor evident in this past override vote will continue and the gap between the haves and have nots in Northampton will worsen. Then maybe Northampton won't be so "extraordinary" anymore.

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