The State Democrats are pushing through a bill that will lower Senior Citizen Property Taxes. The question is, Who will make up the difference? The below column, appeared in this weeks Cape Cod Times, and explains what the Democrats are up too along with sneaky Give All Deval. This bill will effect everyone in the State and must be defeated!!
New Dem mantra: Tax and divide
February 21, 2008
Don’t tax you, don’t tax me, tax that fellow behind the tree!
That idea has moved beyond doggerel, and has been passed by the House in the form of H. 2840, now on its way to the Senate. Three Cape legislators – Patrick (D-Falmouth), Turkington (D-Falmouth) and Peake(D-Provincetown) – voted for this bill, which has the potential to tear apart the fabric of community life on Cape Cod.
The idea is not new; it was first proposed by Sen. Cynthia Stone Creem (D-Newton) five years ago, and has finally passed. Briefly, it would allow towns to exempt senior citizens from the tax increases caused by Prop. 2 ½ overrides, a cynical bid to make such overrides easier to pass.
Seniors who have a household income under $60,000 would be able to vote yes on overrides, and not cope with the consequences. Since the budget levy from the town would not change, it would simply result in a higher tax rate for those under 65 or those who aren’t primary homeowners. The dual-tier tax rate could get worse from year to year, as seniors vote for golf or senior centers, secure that others will continually pay a larger share for them. Remember, that income ceiling is for taxable income – things like annuities and savings aren’t included, and income may not represent actual solvency.
Consider Peake’s vote. She represents the two “oldest” communities in the state, Orleans and Chatham. In the 2000 census, Chatham’s population was 6,625 and over one third are over age 65; 1,491 households have members over 65 and only 514 have members under age 18 who might use the school system that the override is usually for. The census numbers for Orleans are almost identical – 1,557 households with members over 65, and only 493 with members under 18.
The irony is that the selectmen decide what portion of the town budget an override will be for, and right now it’s schools, as they are the fastest rising cost. But there is no reason why it couldn’t be for EMT services or other town services, making the override even more popular with the seniors that won’t be asked to pay the tab.
Sen. Creem’s district in Newton has only 13 percent seniors, not almost 40 percent, but the bill is effective statewide.
It’s easy to claim that the higher tax rate will hit second home owners, and indeed it will, but what will that do to the value of those properties? With second homes in danger of being foreclosed on, and coping with enormous FAIR Plan increases, what chance is there that people will buy those houses – especially if they’re among the 44 percent between the ages of 25 and 34 who fled Orleans between 1990 and 2000?
What is Rep. Peake saying to her constituents – that you are valued if you are an older homeowner, but it’s time to move along if you’re a younger person, especially if you have a family? Is Cape Cod on its way to becoming an elderly Sturbridge Village, with regulated quaintness and no pesky, noisy children?
Rep. Jeff Perry (R-Sandwich) took a very different view of the bill than his Democratic colleagues. He said, “If this bill actually comes into law, why would senior citizens vote no on local tax override questions which they know will not affect them? This ultimately will place older taxpayers at odds with younger ones creating a new friction in our towns… It is bad public policy and represents nothing more than pandering by the Democrats.”
This solution does nothing to address the main thing putting pressure on the property tax – the lack of local aid and school aid for the Cape from Boston, despite the promises of Gov. Patrick to send more local aid and “solve” the property tax crisis. Apparently the solution lies in getting people tax themselves more.
If taxes are indeed the price we pay for a civilized society, how long will Cape seniors be able to retain the veneer of civilization, and refrain from peeking behind the taxing tree?
Cynthia Stead’s serves as Cape and Islands State Republican