Your article about Proposition 21/2 overrides (Head Count, CW, Winter ’05) fails to mention two important community income-generating sources. These two sources are reinventing the local tax system and increasing tax assessments on property.

First, many communities are now imposing a higher rate for business owners than for homeowners. And there is no depreciation for personal property for the business owner. What business would want to locate in this community?

Second, homeowners are being taxed higher through reassessment. A home assessed at $170,000 in 2004 may be assessed at $220,000 in 2005. A community may have lowered the per-thousand tax rate yet raised property values. This gives an illusion of a tax reduction.

Towns have also resorted to raising fees: inspecting fees, burn permit fees, even schoolbus transportation fees. Even the number of speeding and parking tickets has increased. Is there more crime, or are the communities searching for more revenue?

Who needs Prop. 21/2 overrides when communities can raise revenue without voter approval?

Anthony V. Gauquier


In the Head Count feature on Proposition 21/2, you include Needham among “the biggest [override] defeats,” citing a request for “$17.3 million for ‘infrastructure maintenance’ in 2002.” It should be pointed out that the referendum in question presented three options ($6.97 million, $5.66 million, and $4.65 million), with only one—at most—to be adopted. Thus the reference to $17.3 million is an overstatement.

In any event, the voters rejected all three options. The following spring, the town approved a scaled-back $2.46 million plan.

Prop. 21/2 override questions will continue to present voters in many communities with difficult choices
between increased property taxes and funding for services and infrastructure.

Kate Fitzpatrickk
Town administrator