Taxes by the dozen
More than a few friends have asked me why I write for Rye Reflections if I live in Dover, which isn’t on the Seacoast. Even more so, why do I write letters to the Portsmouth Herald Editor about the cost of the proposed over-sized Portsmouth Middle School?
In a word: TAXES. Since moving to Rye in 1997 and subsequently on to Dover in 2004, I have seen all forms of taxes rise in an astronomical fashion in town, state, and federal governments. It’s not a matter of party, Republican or Democrat, it’s a matter of spending and then simply raising a tax to pay for it.
The Hampton tolls have tripled. Real estate taxes more than doubled. Cigarette taxation, the panacea for all budget shortfalls, has gone beyond the pale, and is poised to go up again.
You may remember the 2005 “Golf-hole tax flap”, when Greenland wanted to tax the individual golf holes at the Portsmouth Country Club by calling them improvements to the golf course. Even telephone poles are taxed. Every possible avenue is explored to extract money from the people, dead or alive. The list goes on forever and the sad part is, most of these taxes aren’t even thought of as taxes. Is a building permit a tax?
What concerns me most, however, is the constant spending by our elected and non-elected public officials. Plans and projects are initiated and deemed for the “good of the people", and then the people are required to pay for them.
The Portsmouth Middle School is an excellent current example of "project run amok". Click this link, Middle School Project Heats Up, September 23, 2008 and read all associated links on that page. Suffice it to say, Portsmouth presently has a school that is nearly 20% over-sized for its current enrollment, and now wants to build a new one that would be 30% over-sized for a larger enrollment projected out in the future. Are enrollments increasing?
The town of Rye recently chose to purchase some wetland and "view only" land along Central Road and Grove Road that cost the people of Rye $847,000. Click here for the 2007 story. Were those views between Joe Mills' house and the Philbrick farm worth the tax dollars spent on your behalf? This is a form of taxation you never think about.
The town of Rye perhaps has more lawsuits in process, or recently concluded, than most towns in the state. Many of your tax dollars are paid to the town's legal counsel each year. One case, Hogan v. Town of Rye was similar to an experience I had had when the town wanted to declare some of my land as "wetland", so I met with Hogan to see if my insight would be helpful to him. It turned out in his case, that in the mid 1980's the town directed storm water drains on Fairhill Avenue, such that they emptied onto Hogan's land in a heavily wooded section, and the town had neither asked permission, nor told Hogan about it.
Now, twenty years later Hogan had to sue the town for relief. Many dollars of your taxes, as well as Mr. Hogan's, were spent on the legal counsel, when all the town had to do was say, "Mr. and Mrs. Hogan, The town apologizes, and will stop dumping water onto your land on Fairhill Avenue, as we have been doing for the past twenty years. It was a mistake on our part." That would not have cost the taxpayers a dime, and it would have been the right thing to do, in my opinion. (the water dumping continues. Go look at it, behind "The Infamous Rock" on Fairhill!)
Excess money spent on the Rye Public Safety Building when the Selectmen did not listen to their project manager, is taxation. When a town board member holds up a building project by pushing a personal agenda, it’s like a tax, because it drives up the cost of the project that will finally be built.
I could go on and on about the additional costs borne by taxpayers. For example: the newest trend for a four-day week by city and town employees, under the guise of energy saving. Think it through: will there be savings or only three-day week-ends for some, while you the people who pay the bills, are further inconvenienced as your taxes continue upward?
How about the "fuelish" debate over using private flagmen instead of idling police car details at work sites along the roads? Of course that would save money. I’ll let you choose the next example, as I’m sure you have the memory and the pain.
Our taxation system to cover spending by whim or ego cannot continue!
Candidates for President and Congress are running on the idea of change, and that's a good thing. I urge us all to think about the myriad forms of taxation, or societal costs, to which we, as taxpaying citizens, are subjected — and this includes workers in the public, as well as private sector. We must become active in real change by using common sense and looking closely at all spending. Clean out the Spend-then-Tax crowd, and bring in a new philosophy: Think before you Spend!
P.S. Last-minute kudos to Kittery Town Council Chairman Jeff Thomson, who just voted against the closure of Frisbee School and the expenditure of $6 million. He said, “I cannot vote to overextend the community for construction I do not believe is necessary.” Suddenly, I believe in cloning! We need more Jeff Thomsons.
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