Paul Cherulnik: Not every property owner can give the city a ‘blank check’

Published: 2/13/2020 3:02:16 PM
Modified: 2/13/2020 3:02:06 PM

I find some aspects of the discussion surrounding a tax override in Northampton puzzling.

First, for me a budget is a plan for meeting one’s needs by allocating the funds one has. It seems that the city decides how much it would like to spend and then bills the taxpayers for that amount.

City officials seem oblivious to the fact that taking more money from taxpayers to enhance the city’s “fiscal stability” makes the taxpayers’ fiscal stability suffer. Every dollar paid in taxes is a dollar that can’t be spent on a more efficient vehicle, or safer food, or better health care, or even put aside for future emergencies.

The city government hardly seems to consider trimming the city’s expenses in its fervor to solve global warming, manage the problems of migration, reduce income inequality, and tackle myriad other crises that are mostly beyond its purview or control.

There seems to be little appetite for using increased tax revenue, including increased property taxes that are allowed, but not mandated by existing law, or taxes on the perennial new development and property improvements to enhance the lives of city residents — there is no trash or garbage collection, very little street paving, no outdoor swimming pool or ice rink or dog park, etc.

Not every taxpayer in Northampton can afford to give the city government a blank check and then pay for all of those services, including the car repairs that are necessitated by driving the city’s wretched streets. But you’d never know it from the public discussion of the city’s budget and taxes.

Paul Cherulnik


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