Think about tax dollar spending

So, here we are in a new year, and soon we will have a new president who will bring to office new policies that will either:

Make America great again, or …

Well, whatever the alternatives are to greatness, they can’t possibly be as good as great, especially if our tax dollars are going to be used to pay for Donald Trump’s Keep ‘Em Out wall on our southern border.

But whatever happens in Washington, we here in the Souhegan Valley will be faced, in 2017, with most of the same issues that have faced us in years past.

Most significant among them will be how to spend our local dollars, and by this we mean our tax dollars, but also our “discretionary spending” dollars.

When it comes to tax dollars, the mantra of public officials always seems to be “Hold Down Spending” – and that’s an admirable mantra, as long as it doesn’t interfere with either getting things done or improving things, particularly education.

The problem faced by public officials is that we, the residents of the Souhegan Valley, want to have our cake and eat it. We just don’t want to pay for it.

And who can blame us? It isn’t as if we aren’t taxed enough already. The problem is, towns and school districts still need to provide services in the face of rising costs, and when residents tell public officials that they don’t want their taxes to go up, then something has to go.

That something is service.

We are only three months away from deciding – either in the voting booth or on the floor of town meeting – how our money will be spent, and as we have seen in the last several years, many towns and school districts see their budgets defeated. The odd thing is, it isn’t as if their default budgets are vastly different, but their primary budgets still get shot down either because saving a penny is better than not or because voters want to send a message.

But it seems so illogical. When budgets are defeated, all a town or a school district can do is try to find more savings. We have enough faith in our local officials to believe they’ve already tried to find savings, but apparently voters don’t agree. They seem to forget that the people charged with local governance are residents of the towns and must pay the same taxes. It isn’t as if they aren’t trying.

So as town meeting time approaches, attend budget hearings and deliberative sessions to find out exactly what your officials are trying to accomplish. Be prepared to vote in March based on your knowledge of the issues and the need for spending. Please don’t just say no.

And that brings up our discretionary spending. Can we, in 2017, try to spend a bit more of it locally? Our businesses here in the Souhegan Valley depend on us to remain solvent, and with the incredible competition from online sources, that’s becoming more difficult by the minute. Literally by the minute.

Look at what major companies such as Macy’s and Sears are going through. They are shutting down stores and putting people out of work. Do we want to see local businesses forced to do the same?

We know it can be more convenient to shop online, but it isn’t as much fun. Shopping locally, you get to talk with folks. Try talking to your computer keyboard.

Those are things to ponder as the new year, and a new presidency, begin.