Like many civic-minded residents of Plymouth, I believe in the importance of voting, and doing it responsibly and with knowledge about the issues at stake.
Like many civic-minded residents of Plymouth, I believe in the importance of voting, and doing it responsibly and with knowledge about the issues at stake. Unlike some voters in Plymouth, however, I am not opposed to paying taxes. My taxes help support excellent schools, health care facilities, libraries, public parks and beautiful beaches, road upkeep and repair services, responsive and responsible government, and a whole host of services I would be hard pressed to do without. I view it as part of my social contract not unlike my contracts with other service providers. I don’t expect to get my phone or internet services for free. And I expect and support the fact that my tax dollars support all of Plymouth, not just one part of it, because I directly benefit from being a part of both my smaller neighborhood and the larger community.
We live in a state with a high tax rate, but one in which is known for its excellent services which we all take advantage of, including a top notch education system, the best hospitals in the world, and an amazing coast line with pristine beaches and recreational opportunities. Whether we are here because of our jobs, family or by choice because of all that Massachusetts has to offer, we all benefit from what our tax dollars support.
A recent report from the Boston Business Journal shows that Plymouth’s 2016 property tax rate was $16.27 (per $1,000 in assessed property value) compared to the statewide median of $15.69. Plymouth was solidly in the middle, in spite of the fact that it is one of the fastest growth towns in the state. The average single-family tax bill in Plymouth was $5,092. The state median was $3,670. Plymouth ranks 148. Generally tax rates throughout Massachusetts are on the rise, but keep in mind that 20 communities pay an average bill above the $10,000 threshold.
Many of the residents of Plymouth are angry about the effect that the need for a new sewer line and two new high schools has had on their property taxes. Many of the candidates for office in the upcoming election are capitalizing on that frustration and anger by promising to reduce the tax rate as the sole basis of their platform. Yet consider the fact that it was precisely that attitude that created the very situation we are in. Former town representatives made shortsighted decisions thinking that the best strategy to keep our taxes as low as possible was to keep expenses for infrastructure costs as low as possible. Choosing the lowest (and least qualified) bidder on those jobs resulted in very short-term gains and a more expensive outcome for Plymouth now.
Voting for inexperienced candidates who are unfamiliar with our town will not reduce your property taxes in the long term. Nor will it give you the good schools, excellent health care, and beautiful beaches and recreational resources that make living here so positive. On the contrary, it will subject us all to the consequences of inadequately funded infrastructure and a poorly thought through strategy on how to attract the right kind of businesses to bring it the right kind of tax income.
I am supporting candidates with a proven record and in-depth understanding of the needs of our community, candidates like Malcolm MacGregor for Planning Board and John Mahoney for selectman, who speak intelligently and knowledgeably about how to address the needs of a rapidly growing community with complex infrastructure needs. Malcolm and John have shown that they represent all of Plymouth, are great listeners, do their homework, play well with others, and have a deep and abiding commitment to the well being of Plymouth and all its residents.
So get out and vote. Get your neighbors to vote. Vote for the right reasons. Check your facts and the source of your information. Don’t be duped into thinking that candidates who only make promises about reducing the tax rate will get you what you want or need.
The Boston Tea Party, contrary to what many folks think, was not a protest against paying taxes. It was a protest against paying taxes without representation. Vote for the best representation you can, for the best community we want.
Judy Savage, Plymouth