Monday, 20 May 2019

Letter: We seniors cannot afford the tax hikes in Brattleboro – Brattleboro Reformer

Editor of the Reformer,

I have lived here most of my life, but we cannot afford Brattleboro with all of its expensive projects. Projects like the skate park, police-fire station, and the proposed $42,500 to promote the town. That is the tip of the iceberg of wasteful town projects. I remember Brattleboro when it was affordable, stayed on budget and was frugal. Myself, like most of my senior citizen friends, are faced with rising and unaffordable house taxes. We seniors who have worked here all our lives, are priced out of our homes. These big dumb wasteful projects like the skate park, the police-fire station, and this $42,500 gift to promote businesses are foolish. It is time for the Select Board to listen and stop wasting money.

Brattleboro has the highest property tax in Vermont, outside of the ski area. It also has the highest number of senior citizens. Friends of mine who have lived in Brattleboro all their lives have or want to move to New Hampshire, or nearby towns. I was angry to hear of the $60,000 granted by the un-Representative Town Meeting. The folks who were behind this skate park asked for $20,000. The Town Representatives gave them $60,000! Who will cover the insurance liability when a kid becomes a quadriplegic? Who has the deepest pocket they can sue the town? This happens all the time in Brattleboro. Neighboring towns and folks from New Hampshire use our library, ice skating, recreational park, museums, jazz center, schools, and all of these are supported by the Brattleboro homeowners/taxpayers.

Who will use the skate park? A few kids from town, but it will mostly be people from New Hampshire and other towns. Brattleboro homeowners will pay for it. If the skate park is such a great idea why don’t they pay for it themselves and run it like a private club? When the tennis club on Cedar Street was built, the people paid for it themselves. The same with the Rifle Club. When do the homeowners get a break? Taxes on average will go up $300 per home, as I was told by the town. For some of my friends it means eating less and skimping on their medication. I was told that 25% of elderly in the USA live in poverty. Why is Brattleboro making its senior citizens poorer with these wasteful projects?

Yet the taxes for the Windham Land Trust will not go up and they own over 600 apartments in town. World Learning with over 100 acres and a multimillion dollar budget pays nothing to the town of Brattleboro. The same for Marlboro College. The Retreat pays about $9,500 a year for town services. The Montessori school, which has mostly rich folks from outside of Brattleboro and out of state, pays $350 a year to the town. That doesn’t even cover the cost of keeping a quarter mile of a street paved. Why are all these schools, business, and hospitals getting a free ride? Only the homeowner’s taxes are going up. This isn’t fair to the many of us who have worked so hard, built this town, and hope to retire in our homes.

This past month the businesses asked for $42,500 to promote their business. $42,500 to promote fancy jewelry and stores downtown? Jewelers need a handout so they can sell more jewelry to the rich people? The Chamber of Commerce is supposed to promote the town. Why can’t they use their money? A friend asked me about Duo restaurant; he said, “They named it Duo, because you need two incomes from NYC to eat there.” Why must the taxpayers pay to promote these businesses that are for the rich tourists?

The town police and fire department was voted down four times. Yet, the sneaky RTM and Select Board pushed it through. If it had gone on a townwide vote it would’ve been rejected. Here is the kicker: those Representatives from Town Meeting were told if their incomes were below $40,000 their taxes would not go up.

Stop the crazy spending in town! We seniors who have lived here all of our lives cannot afford it. Have the skate park people pay for their own park! Let the rich folks and their fancy jewelry and art stores pay for their own promotion. Since there is so much money to go around, how about a reduction in the taxes of the senior citizens?

I, my senior citizen friends, love Brattleboro. We would like to stay here. Help to make Brattleboro affordable for all people, not just the rich. Please call the Select Board to make your opinion known.

Thank you and on behalf of our friends at the Senior Center.

Joe Green

Brattleboro, April 1

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