First, if my letter inspires you to write a letter to the editor, you can find the e-mail addresses to do that for EVERY paper in Massachusetts at:
Next, here is my letter:
I am writing as a citizen of the Town of Arlington. My husband is a town meeting member, and I have watched him, and our town struggle terribly since 2002 when the return of tax money to our town [so misleadingly called “local aid” as if it is charity] was slashed.. As you may know, the tax base of Arlington has only 3% commercial property, and 97 % residential property. The immunity of telecommunications companies to taxation therefore hits Arlington especially hard. When my children were in elementary school in Arlington, every school had a school library and a school nurse. I am glad my children graduated Arlington’s public schools long ago; today public schools in Arlington do not have either librarians or nurses, and I believe the health, safety, and education of Arlington’s children has suffered.
I blame the degradation of public education in Arlington on the reliance on the property tax to fund education. There must be a better way! Therefore, I fully support the Municipal Partnership Act as a result of the impact of the cuts to local funding from so-called local aid since 2002 on the Town of Arlington. The best figures I have show that fairly taxing telecomm companies would add $261,330.00 in sorely needed revenue for Arlington.
I also support giving our Town Meeting the option to consider local meal and room taxes. Representative government is strong in Arlington and I trust our town meeting members to deliberate and do what is right. When I say our town government is strong, an example is that in my precinct, number 19, seven citizens are running for the 4 open town meeting seats. If our town gets the tools that would be provided by the Municipal Partnership Act, Arlington will use them wisely and democratically, and consistent with local needs. Arlington needs this tool to help itself, and not have only property taxes, which have soared, to support local services.
I support the Municipal Partnership Act to give Arlington the tools we need to help ourselves. I hope the legislature will as well. The purpose of government is to help people help themselves when only collective action can do the job. Education is an example; so is public safety and taxation is another. I am not sure when “government” and “taxes” became evil in public discourse, rather than the basis for democracy. Government is how we collectively take care of ourselves, and taxes are how that care is paid for by society, collectively. The more government is seen as evil, and taxes seen an imposition, the more local services and government will be weakened.
Such weakening of government may be fine for millionaires; the rest of us depend on government to educate our children, build our roads, and keep us safe.