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Leonard Maggiolino: Northampton should take lessons from families on cutting back

To the editor:

To date the override has received minor public attention with the exception of lawn signs, some discussion in the public portion of council meetings and comments published in the Gazette.

I hope everyone understands that this and any past overrides were permanent additions to the real estate taxes that we pay. All property owners, with a few exceptions, will feel its impact including renters, since landlords may be inclined to pass some or all of the tax on to them.

Picture a wall that keeps getting higher, brick by brick. That is our override, Community Preservation Act fees and debt-exclusion history.

What is troubling me more than benches and panhandling is that low- and middle-income residents, seniors and retirees will be aversely affected if the override passes. They are unable to seek increases in their paychecks, Social Security and other sources of income they live on whenever the need arises. Their solution, if they can’t meet their obligations, is to cut somewhere — meds, reduced use of utilities, less for their children’s needs and less for themselves. Maybe their answer is a lesson for government.

However, all forms of government including our city continue to spend and incur debt on reduced income at an increasing rate. Our city can’t continue to meet its budgeted needs with overrides for financial and/or political shortfalls.

At some point we will reach a tipping point where unpleasant choices will have to be made. The usual tired litany for an override is that our children’s schooling will suffer and our police and fire coverage will be degraded. But federal sequestration didn’t mean the end of the world — and maybe neither will making hard choices in Northampton. What about expanding our tax base by bringing industry, jobs and tax dollars to our city? What about looking at our tables of organization and personnel structures?

Vote, whether you are for or against it. Don’t be disinterested and later complain because you didn’t take a few minutes to express your opinion at the ballot box. I’m voting no!

Leonard Maggiolino


Legacy Comments3

I'm sorry that taxes and the price of bread can't be frozen in time like you and your ilk seem to wish for. What about those losing their jobs Leonard? There is no "cutting back" to these people. You and many others complain about seniors not being able to pay their bills on limited income. Try paying your bills on ZERO income. There's the ultimate "cut back" for you. The schools have made $35 MILLION dollars in cutbacks over the last 10 years. Now, Leonard, imagine a wall that keeps getting TORN DOWN brick by brick. That is our school system - it has been cut back to the bone, and now we are cutting essential programs and services. How much more do these people have to suffer? No one seems to give a damn that we are putting members of our community out of work. I wonder if you'd sing a different tune if the public voted to eliminate your job?

If the cost of the override would be about $20-$30/mo for an average single-family house, then this ominous business of landlords passing the cost along to their renters would result in what, a $10-$15/month increase for a typical apartment? You would gut the schools and put public safety at risk to save ten dollars a month?

"All property owners, with a few exceptions, will feel its impact including renters, since landlords may be inclined to pass some or all of the tax on to them." Landlords WILL pass along a fair share of the tax increase to their tenants. Renting apartments is a business and landlords should not be expected to absorb municipal tax increases, CPA fees and infrastructure improvements. Their tenants who benefit from better schools, adequate staffing of police and fire departments and historic preservation need to participate in funding the "good life."

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