Different Towns, Different Compassion for Taxpayers’ Plight
According to the Newport Daily News, some elected officials in Middletown are willing to acknowledge the economy in which constituents are having to struggle:
Councilman Edward J. Silveira said he submitted a docket item to discuss the issue [of a zero percent increase] after hearing from residents and businesses about the increased hardships they’re facing. Silveira, Councilwoman M. Theresa Santos and Robert J. Sylvia said this week they will recommend deep cuts to line items across the board because most people cannot afford any additional expenditures. …
“When I look and see what residents are going through and the fact our foreclosures are the highest they’ve been in years and families are going through so much right now, we need to do everything we can to make sure we’re being reasonable,” Sylvia said. “I will say this, however: Given what’s going on out there, I will actively be campaigning against any member of the Town Council who votes for any tax increase. I’m a businessperson and I look at the town like a business and we can’t beat up our residents any more than we already have.”
The initially proposed budget represented a 2.7% increase, although some town officials are citing decreasing state and federal aid as justification for an 8% increase. Meanwhile, in Tiverton, we’re having to fight to keep a compromise budget at a 4.39% tax levy increase, with town officials like the superintendent of schools proclaiming the end of our local civilization unless home owners accept a 9% increase in taxes.
Spurred by the Tiverton School Committee, rumors are flying around town declaring to parents that their children’s schools will be closed, and students as early as fourth grade will be forced into the middle school, riding the bus with eighth graders. There is simply no way that will happen. For his part, Superintendent Bill Rearick warned at a public hearing, Wednesday, that even more extreme measures may be required — like forcing a reduction in teacher pay. (The only reason I didn’t put the italicized phrase in quotation marks is that he may have said, “more egregious,” and I haven’t had a chance to check the tape.)
Hard economic times bring such clarity about who’s on whose side.