Monday, April 6, 2009

Local budgets being set

One thing about April most of the time is its consistency. Its consistency of rain, that is. April is in its sixth day and its greatest asset so far has been the rain, showers, and fog it has brought our way. I probably should give it some credit of ridding my yard of snow, too. So far, it has demonstrated why that old saying was coined: April showers bring May flowers. At the rate we’re going, May is going to see wonderful bloom.

Cities and towns throughout Maine are now letting their budgets be known for the coming year. Once they get passed, we’ll know what our property tax rates will be. Most have indicated that want to hold spending down so they won’t have to pass a tax increase along to homeowners. Many haven’t succeeded, at least before city/town councils or town meetings get to act on a budget. My town, for example, has told us its leadership has tried, but some of the development hasn’t taken place and so we are facing a “small” increase.

I’m really not surprised that the development isn’t doing what we were told it would do. It seems every time there’s a major development, we’re told how it will help property taxes. Then we’re told of all the infrastructural work that has to be done, like roads, gas/electric lines, sewers, etc., which means we will need to spend more. So much for the help on taxes. I know there are many people who would argue that the development has succeeded because increases could have been more. I wonder if they would be the same or lower without that wonderful development with all we have to spend to prepare for it.

My town is experiencing a great growth. You should see all the empty store fronts, many in newly constructed shopping regions, we have. “Once the economy turns around, you’ll see those shops filling up,” we’re told. In my more than 70 years, I’ve never noticed a lower property tax because of such development. I have heard many specious arguments that have told me how taxes have been kept down.

I just wish town, city, state, and national governments would have to look at spending the way we taxpayers have to look at it. If we can’t afford something, many of us go without. And during these economic crises we’re all facing, the vast majority of us have no way to increase our income, so we sometimes have to make sacrifices.

I don’t understand why governments can’t prioritize and eliminate some of its spending, too. Those responsible for governments’ revenue get a double whammy in this economy. We have to spend less on ourselves because we have less and we have to pay more taxes because the governments spend more.

When people make these kinds of statements, we’re often asked just where we would cut. As I always say, it’s up to the people setting budgets to make that determination. When we do come up with places, we’re told our suggestions are just a pittance and would make much difference. Just possibly all those “pittances” added together would make a huge difference.

As I say, it’s budget time of year again and again most of us will be paying higher taxes on less income.

The real happy good news for today: The Major League Baseball season began last night. The Red Sox, weather permitting of course, begins its run to the World Series today. (That’s not a prediction, FF, just an opening day comment.)


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