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Thursday, May 5, 2011

Let's think creatively about the town budget and taxes

Why not think outside the box for ways to meet our town's needs in ways that accomodate our town's most important citizens? I'm talking about the Charlestown Citizens Alliance and its constituents, out-of-state millionaire property owners.

Simply raising the tax rate is not enough. If you read the anonymous comments in CCA's e-mails, you will appreciate how CCA's constituency is determined to (a) spend nothing for the general well-being of the town (e.g. schools, improved beach facilities); (b) allow no new businesses or housing and (c) give nothing to town workers.

Inspired by the CCA and its chorus of anonymous voices, I have compiled a list of ways to balance the budget without a major tax rate hike:

1. Allow any millionaire property owner who feels slighted by the reduction in their assessment to increase their assessment by up to 50% without challenge. I hope every CCA person who complained that their assessments were too low comes forward.

2. Switch to an all-volunteer town government. Charlestown's departmental budgets total $11.5 million. Most of it goes to paying people. They get $2 million alone just on benefits. Since a number of CCA's Nameless think we should cut here, let's go all the way. Replace all town employees with CCA volunteers. Town Council Prez Tom Gentz can run the town. Why do we need an expensive police department when we could have a CCA posse police the town?

3. Traffic fines. Let's put our new municipal court to work raking in the money from enhanced enforcement. The CCA posse can ticket any non-resident vehicle for illegal parking (with special focus on the area around Blue Shutters Beach). And of course zero tolerance for any speeding by any vehicle not showing a resident beach sticker.   

4. Tolls. CCA followers are pretty clear: the only non-residents they like are each other. Anybody else who comes to Charlestown - to go to the beach, to look for a new home, etc. - is an interloper. Nothing says "Welcome" more than toll booths. How about $5 to enter C-Town, but no charge to leave? Let's put up toll booths (made from traditional village material, of course) on US 1 and 1A, north and south, the Route 2/112 junction just below the Gentleman Farmer, and 216 at Buckeye Brook. Volunteers could staff the booths.

5. Create more open space. As failed CCA Town Council candidate Cliff Vanover has repeatedly argued, more open space increases our town's tax base (let him explain it). So by all means, kill Ted Veazey's proposal for homes on the derelict YMCA property. While we're at it, let's bulldoze the homes of any Charlestown resident who fails to demonstrate that they add value to the town. All that new open space will do wonders for our tax base and cut the tax rate.

6. Banish the families of at least 500 Chariho students from Charlestown. This idea is inspired by Planning Commissioner Ruth Platner's rejection of affordable housing for families with children because of the cost to educate them. Before the second and third bumps in the tax rate, I had calculated that getting rid of 200 Chariho kids would be enough to avoid a tax rate hike. But since our new proposed rate is $9.04, we're going to have to get rid of more kids. 

So, come on, Progressive Charlestown readers. Show us that you're just as creative as the CCA Nameless Ones at coming up with ways to improve our town! Post your ideas today!

Author: Will Collette