To the Editor:
In the Dec. 5 Hollis Brookline Journal, there were 2 letters to the editor that caught my attention about the COOP reapportionment issues that exist between Hollis and Brookline. The information was misleading.
Referencing the letter that used a cup of coffee analogy, I would greatly appreciate if taxpayers in both towns paid the “same price for the same cup of coffee”. Both letters fail to mention that towns don’t pay taxes, taxpayers do. The fact that Hollis has a larger population greatly reduces the taxes that each taxpayer in Hollis pays to the COOP.
We should be viewing our COOP as a population of roughly 12,000, not a population of only “2” (1 town of Hollis and 1 town of Brookline). Currently, there are 575 students from Brookline and 653 students from Hollis in the COOP. Based on the current apportionment formula, subsequent tax rates, and current enrollment, a Brookline taxpayer pays $2.16/100K of property value for each Brookline student to attend the COOP, while a Hollis taxpayer pays $0.97/100K of property value for each Hollis student. To use the letter’s coffee cup analogy, Hollis taxpayers are paying $0.97 per cup of coffee, while Brookline taxpayers pay $2.16 for the same cup of coffee. In essence, the writer from Hollis wants to get a discount on his cup of coffee because of the larger population of Hollis.
The letter also makes an argument that a $300,000 house in Brookline doesn’t equal a $300,000 house in Hollis. What is the most important aspect to real estate value? Location, location, location! The letter fails to note that Hollis gets home value benefits based on 100% of the COOP assets being located in their town. However, for the sake of argument, I’ll go ahead and use costs of average homes in Hollis versus Brookline. Based on average home values, a Hollis taxpayer living in an average Hollis home valued at $410,000 pays $3.99 per Hollis student to attend the COOP while a Brookline taxpayer in an average Brookline home valued at $273,000 pays $5.90 per Brookline student. Even using the very different average home values, Brookline taxpayers still pay 48% more than Hollis taxpayers.
The letters use convenient ways of looking at the numbers to make their case, but they don’t hold water. The letter containing the coffee cup analogy states, “It is morally reprehensible and corrupt to expect anyone to pay more for the same cup of coffee just because they live in a different town.” At least there was one statement in the letters with which I can agree.