I donít suppose it surprises anyone that taxes in Barre will be going up, again. As most folks know, itís a perennial event ó the flowers come up and itís another 50 to 90 bucks. Like clockwork. The only thing that doesnít change is the tagline from the mayor: ďThatís inside my comfort zone.Ē
Iím sure it is. Unfortunately, itís not in mine. For someone who seemingly has unlimited income I doubt a 6 percent tax hike makes a dent. For people like me, whose family just suffered the loss of a pension in favor of a 403(b), itís a big deal, especially since it happens every single year. This on a house that, if moved laterally two miles in any direction, would be worth $100,000 more. When we bought the place, taxes were $3,600. Now, itís $5,015. I cannot imagine how retired folks on a fixed income are dealing with this.
And letís not forget the promise of a TIF district, and the possible multimillion-dollar liability the voters will shoulder if that isnít administered properly. Based on prior experience with local government, I wouldnít touch that idea with a 10-foot pole, especially since most TIF districts are run outside of local control, i.e. the voters have no say in its administration. Plus, itís a direct threat to existing business, who get no support from it but get to use their taxes to attract competition.
City residents need to face facts; the city is swirling down a debt hole it can never recover from. Whatís our debt liability now? Well, based on the $800,000 a year interest payments, I would say itís quite a bit. We have a shiny new Main Street, but itís paint on a house whose foundation is caving in. The promises of a renewed Barre business climate saving us all from ruin are fantasy at best. Barreís best days were when the granite industry was pumping the tax base full of cash and employing the city residents. That day has passed. Itís time for Barre to redirect itself to being the bedroom community for the more prosperous areas around it. We need to be the city that attracts people who pay taxes and own homes.
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