To the editor:
The town of Newbury is proudly enamored of its tax riches presently with no end in sight.
And spending same as evidenced at the most recent Town Meeting is a continuing example of local voter apathy and political action in the name of “opportunity.”
The same town which not 10 years ago was seeking overrides now annually increases revenue by $500,000 plus new housing/business starts amounting to $100,000.
The administration that pats itself aloud and continuously on the back for wonderful money management is also cognizant if every penny of our tax money isn’t spent in full, asking for more tax dollars on the basis of just “prices go up” becomes a hard sell.
Instead of embracing this economic opportunity — a very popular term for selectmen and leadership at the Town Meeting on many matters in lieu of saying it’ll plain cost more, but we have it — to reduce the citizens’ tax rate for even one year without any real cost to budgetary or account demands, or want throughout any town department, or personnel, property taxes again rise 2.5%.
This with town leadership fully expecting new construction starts and climbing home valuations to continue to increase while our school district obligation has leveled if not waned. Every town department account is full, every budget dream-fulfilled, every salary has been made “competitive.” All accomplished at taxpayers’ expense; now, it’s time to reward the citizens who have filled the coffers.
And always comes town administrative and certain taxpayer-voiced protectionism in the form of “Newbury has the lowest tax rate around” as if this argument suffices as reasoning for any increase every year.
Our tax rate is expensive when viewed in the light of total town tax services provided and town services provided by additional fee. Our Town Hall is closed Fridays and functions on a 35-hour work week.
We’re a small town with small needs living large and by voter turnout at the polls, or worse, at Town Meetings where the real money is spent, citizen participation remains sadly pitiful considering the responsibility citizens have in a democracy.
Clearly, those who are participatory have little issue with such spending. It’s why the town now owns a $100,000 tree-shaping bucket truck for part-time work and funds an unused but sparkling $300,000 bathroom building at Central Street, but I digress.
Newbury has 6,000 citizens led by a town manager whose pay package rivals that of the governor of our state, backed by five selectmen who not only reinstated their own salaries, but have managed themselves subsequent raises, all assisted by an executive secretary in conjunction with departmental support.
With all that paid leadership, creating budget demands at citizen expense should be reigned in not promoted, and citizens thereby rewarded with a slightly less tax obligation. That would be a fine show of tax money managing worthy of a taxpayer pat on the back.