Property taxes not best solution
For the second straight year, Milford voters shot down town and school budgets, and now officials must scramble to make cuts to get down to the default budget. On the town side, that means cutting 83 percent of the money that had been earmarked for road repairs, plus cutting by a third the raises that were to go to town employees.
We understand the continuing concern voters have about property taxes that, of course, go up each year – sometimes only slightly, but still up. It isn’t easy, especially for folks on fixed incomes, to constantly be paying more. It seems that every time you turn around, you’re paying more for something with, this year, the exception of gasoline and heating oil, but we all know that’s going to change. It seems as if we’re in an endless cycle of paying more, especially when it comes to funding our towns and schools. And they have to be funded. It’s either that or continue what also seems endless: the search for things to cut so that we don’t have to pay as much "more" as we might have to were we not to cut. But where does it stop? When do we reach the point of no return, when we have cut so much we are seriously affecting our quality of life?
Let’s take Milford’s roads. This year, the town will allocate only 17 percent of what officials felt was needed to take care of road issues. That means a lot won’t get done that they believed needed to be done. Roads don’t improve in a vacuum. Potholes don’t fill themselves. What is a town supposed to do? The problem as we see it is our system of taxation. The property tax doesn’t care that people have gone from jobs to fixed incomes, so you are expected to pay the same regardless of what you’re now making. Does that really make sense?
We need to change the way we raise money, because until we do, default budgets are, in many towns, going to be the rule rather than the exception. Eventually, we’re going to pay for that, and like everything else, it will cost us more.