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A senior on a 'fixed income' endorses 2 yes votes

real estate taxes 200

Let's be clear about two ballot questions town residents face June 11: I recommend yes votes on both.

I do not do this lightly. Since starting in 2006, I have written only one other editorial endorsement -- favoring the Community Preservation Act in 2014.

Because I write about many town issues as a reporter, goals of fairness and impartiality keep me from taking sides on issues editorially. However, on the two votes in June, I must urge a choice.

Voting yes on both issues June 11 is the best path for Arlington’s future and our children’s education. Now is the time to approve a rebuilt public high school for the 21st century and support continuing town services.

Questions to ask about AHS

But let's say you're unsure. To help decide, ask yourself these questions about the high school:

  • Is the 105-year-old high school, which is in serious disrepair and too small for the projected number of students, safe enough to wait for another uncertain round of state funding?
  • Are we ready to say no to $86 million of approved state funding?
  • The high school has been on “warning” status by the accrediting agency since 2013. Will that agency remove our high school’s accreditation by 2023? Does our town want to risk having an unaccredited high school?
  • How will losing accreditation affect property values and our children’s educational future?
  • How much more will it cost in construction and bond interest rates if the town waits?

Questions to ask about town

Next, consider town services. Leaders surely would prefer to ask taxpayers to vote in another year, but town finances do not permit it. The town has extended the 2011 override from three years to eight, and the savings cannot be stretched further.

Waiting a year until the stabilization fund approaches zero would mean a bigger override the following year to make up the difference.

By having two votes this year, residents can more squarely address the operating override without being on the brink of service cuts.

Taxing for seniors, others

That said, I acknowledge the taxing issues that seniors and others face.

Real estate taxes in town are higher than in the past. That hurts those on "fixed incomes." Some say they will not be able to continue living here.

Here's the hard truth: Each resident knows what he or she can afford. To see whether it's really true that higher taxes will lead to your moving from town, review your finances carefully.

In my case, I am a senior citizen who relies on Social Security, and until recently received modest annual pay for freelance editing work for Tufts University. I manage more than full time. Since the site began, in 2006, I have not taken a salary. I love keeping Arlington's citizens informed.

Despite a modest income, I am willing to pay more to help Arlington provide the school and services it deserves. My wife and I have no plans to leave our home on Turkey Hill, and our children are no longer in the Arlington school system. Nevertheless, we want to invest in Arlington's future.

Just as your taxes have risen, ours have, too. Even so, we enthusiastically support both ballot questions June 11.

Options to know about

A last question to consider:

  • Did you know that Town Meeting has adopted a number of measures to help senior citizens and that there a number on the books, which few residents use?

Read a summary about an information for seniors presented May 23 at the Senior Center >>  In that summary is a link to variety of town programs >> 

Community Preservation Act surcharge >>
Assessors' list of exemptions >>
Tax impact calculator >>  

This viewpoint was published Tuesday, May 28, 2019. It expresses the publisher's personal opinions, which he endeavors to keep separate from news summaries he writes about these issues.

HAVE a different viewpoint? Your comments are welcome. Post to the window below and, to be published, your views must include your full name.

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