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Dorrie Brooks: Backs city’s proposed override

To the editor:

One of the most tragic side effects of our country’s entrenched political mismanagement is that local residents are increasingly pitted against each other when local budgets come up for debate. We pit school children against retirees and the unionized against the non-unionized in battles that get uglier every year. In a just world, no community would have to battle for resources for education, basic infrastructure, good government or police and fire protection.

Local taxes, the money that pays for local services, makes up only 13 percent of the average American taxpayer’s burden. In contrast, 67 percent of our taxes go toward the federal government’s spending priorities, priorities we have little power to shape.

I support the Northampton tax override because I know that the revenue raised locally will be spent locally. It won’t pass through the hands of the state Legislature, or House and Senate appropriations committees. It won’t go to Syria or land in a pile of hundred dollar bills on the desk of Hamid Karzai in Kabul.

I am no more eager to pay additional taxes than anyone else, but it helps me to know that the people who manage our city’s budget are neighbors that I see at the grocery store or at a local soccer game. I know that at heart they care as much about Northampton as I do. Please join me in voting yes on Northampton’s proposed tax override.

Dorrie Brooks

Florence

I'm not sure that the taxpayers are seeing the big picture here. We had an override in 2009. Four years later, we're being asked again. The mayor himself has said that if the 2013 override passes, we'll be able to manage for another four years, until 2017. If Northampton doesn't start living within its means, we will have overrides every four years. We simply cannot go on this way. We are doing what the federal government is doing - living large on an empty wallet. And those of us in the lower middle class are taking a serious financial hit. We cannot have it all, and neither can our schools. Stop picking my pocket to support YOUR desires. It simply isn't fair.

Well said, Dorrie Brooks. It is too bad that we have to keep digging in to our local pockets to make up for the crazy tax cuts and spending plans in Boston and DC. But what's the alternative to an override? There isn't one, other than to cut the already bleeding school budget yet again, fire more teachers and police, and basically rob from our kids. Our parents paid much higher local taxes than we do, and were happy to do it because they knew that good schools and good government are what this town and this country are all about.

I agree with the general thrust of Brooks' argument that there seems to be a more direct benefit and satisfaction for most people to paying local taxes compared with federal taxes. But should that argument alone justify the continued reliance of raising of property taxes in Northampton to balance our annual budgets? I also think Brooks minimizes the impact that increases of property taxes are having on the average homeowner's budget. For example, last year, Northampton taxes (not including the car tax, state sales taxes, meals taxes and various city fees) comprised about 22% of my total tax burden, and this rate has gone up year after year significantly higher than the rate of inflation, swallowing greater chunks of my income. Local tax rates might make up a comparatively very low percentage of high-income households' total tax expenditures, but not moderate- and low-income households because property taxes are regressive in nature and hit those who can least afford it hardest. All of us care about Northampton and want to see our money used as wisely as possible and pay for the things we need most. At some point, the city is going to have to make hard choices to control its outlays and find other ways to raise money so we can avoid the damaging effects the override votes have on both our morale and wallets.

How about those that want the override, pay for the override. Why is it in place? To limit spending. Now is not the time. Let's finish paying for the firehouse, the "new" high shcool AND the police station. Many native people in Northampton are working class and have no way to increase our own income. Please be reasonable. Rachel A. Rice

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