Views of governing Show diff erent styles
This past Monday (Dec. 7), Marlborough residents saw two examples of their government at work. I’m not certain if the timing was ironic or just very telling. Perhaps it was both. However, these examples showed the end results of two very diff erent styles of governing.
On the same day when Marlborough City Councilors were setting FY 2010 tax rates and voting to lower property taxes in the city, the state legislature, through its Transportation Committee, began weighing several bills to raise yet another tax in Massachusetts – the gasoline tax, by as much as 50 cents.
The Marlborough City Council has been the model of fiscal responsibility, prudently managing the city budget and controlling costs while building ample reserves. We have maintained a stable, predictable property tax while keeping a high level of services for residents. As a result, the city has $18 million in excess levy capacity, has never needed a Proposition 2-Â½ override, and has an excellent bond rating, which further reduces financing costs for large projects.
This year, the Council was able to say “no” to proposed local option tax increases that were encouraged by the governor and adopted in several surrounding communities. Also, we had the ability to use $1.2 million in free cash against the tax levy to reduce residential property tax bills from their FY 2009 levels.
As we responsibly managed our money, our state legislature has conversely been fiscally irresponsible with the state’s budget, allowing it to grow beyond state revenues. For the past several years, they have entered the budget process facing a daunting $2 to $3 billion defi- cit in spite of overly optimistic revenue projections. They have only made cuts when forced to do so and more often than not, defer that responsibility to the Governor. The end result has been cuts to local aid and services, and higher taxes.
In 2009 alone the legislature has already approved $850 million in new taxes and threatened to raise tolls. They told us these were all the taxes they had an appetite for. Apparently they are hungry again and the appetite to consume taxpayers’ money is enormous. What they don’t seem to realize is increasing taxes during an economic downturn will suffocate the economy.
When times are tough and there’s not enough money for everything we want or need, and our families cut both luxuries and necessities alike. But not the Massachusetts legislature. This tax-and-spend crowd has forgotten what it means to do without. They have become gluttons at the taxpayers’ expense and blindly propose new taxes that will force us deeper into an economic recession.
Perhaps our state legislators will take a lesson from local leaders like those we have in Marlborough. Or perhaps not. Perhaps it’s just time to send our current legislators home to find a new job (if they can in this economy) and send new leaders to Beacon Hill who have proven they know how to get the job done.
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