Is paying for the Hollis Brookline Co-op a fee or tax?
To the Editor:
Recent discussions around the co-op apportionment formula resulted in two very different directions all in the name of “fairness.”
The data that Tom Gehan presented at the co-op meeting was based on the goal that residents should all pay the same dollar amount to the co-op. This is similar to a flat fee for services. His result is that Hollis pays 20 percent more to the co-op than Brookline.
The data that Eric Pauer presented was based on the goal that residents should all pay the same dollar percentage to the co-op. This is similar to value-based tax rates for services. His result is that Brookline pays 80 percent more for the co-op than Hollis.
So, should the co-op fee be viewed as a service or a tax? Is it more “fair” for everyone to pay the same dollar amount or the same percentage? If I make $75,000 at work I expect to pay more income tax dollars than someone making $50,000 even though our tax rate percentage is the same.
The property taxes I pay to the town and state are lower than someone living in a more expensive house but we pay the same percentage and expect the same level of police, fire, public work services. The co-op fee is tied closely to property values and comes to me in my taxes. I think it should match closer to the percent tax model than the flat fee model.
The two have very different goals and will never equal out. But bridging the gap between the 20 percent and 80 percent differences may be the best way to approach fairness.