Guest columnist Bonnie Harrison: Taxes are a wake-up call: Welcome to your ‘Golden Years’




Published: 03-26-2024 3:28 PM

I’d like to respond to the letter “Where will it end?” [Gazette, Feb. 7] regarding the writer’s taxes in Northampton. Welcome to what all senior citizens are enduring on our fixed incomes. Come on over to your neighboring city of Easthampton, where our real estate tax rate is going up again, our water/sewer rates have gone up and now, our mayor might be taking the route of our Gov. Maura Healey with the “Municipal Empowerment Act,” which would allow cities and towns to increase taxes on hotel stays and restaurant meals, as well as create a new 5% local option motor vehicle excise tax.

Just days after the governor said she was not planning on raising taxes, she spoke on her new plan which will allow municipalities to raise certain taxes to gain revenue. Unbelievable how we have to pay an excise tax on our vehicles that we park in our garage or driveway and already pay real estate taxes on the land and home. Aren’t excise taxes suppose to cover the cost of fixing roads in cities/towns? Have you driven on Easthampton roads lately? Driving on these roads is hazardous to drivers, passengers, and other road users, increasing the risk of accidents and vehicle damage.

Regarding the Municipal Empowerment Act, the Gazette quoted Easthampton Mayor Nicole LaChapelle as saying the act has “game-changing elements in how municipalities make decisions around revenue streams that are right for their community. I think an important element is that they are opt-ins. They are not unfunded mandates.”

LaChapelle, who is the new president of the Massachusetts Mayors’ Association, noted that for communities like Easthampton, which are not tourism destinations and don’t have much of a hotel presence, the ability to increase the excise tax on vehicles will be especially useful.

“To have local revenue keep pace with increasingly more expensive resources — as far as roads, as far as public safety, as far as electricity and energy costs — that excise tax, I think, is something that Easthampton needs to have a very serious conversation about to keep that up [and] to better support operating budgets and expenses,” LaChapelle said.

Keeping this in mind, let’s not forget the oil prices are increasing, gas prices are also rising and what about the high prices in grocery stores, restaurants and medical health insurances have risen in cost.

Buckle up y’all, we’re in for a wild ride! We’re being taxed out of our homes, welcome to your “Golden Years!”

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Bonnie Harrison lives in Easthampton.