Monday, October 10, 2011

She Must be One of Those Job Creators I Keep Hearing About

I've been working on a project in town -- trying to get town approval for funding a new school building. It's no easy task. The first half of my effort was last spring and resulted in favorable votes at town meeting and town election for design funds. Now we're asking for the big bucks -- construction funds.

The project is solid. We need it. As a community we have to afford it for our long-term health. The people involved are honest and hardworking and have put in thousands of hours of volunteer time. And so on and so on. I believe we have sufficient support in town. Still, there are pockets of opposition and I will not feel calm about this until all the votes are in, 27 days from now.

Saturday morning, an acquaintance and I were standing outside the local market passing out flyers and talking to people. It was a productive morning. My acquaintance is terrific for this task as she grew up here and she knows everybody. Everybody.

A couple hours in, this woman comes by and starts chatting with us. She clearly knows my aquaintance. We tell her what we are promoting, and she immediately launches into a monologue about how we really don't need schools, and if they pass she doesn't know if she's going to be able to afford to keep living here.

We hear this a fair bit. The cost is not insignificant, and we are not unfeeling. Town officials are working hard to make sure the financing is as affordable as possible. We have tax abatement programs in town for those in need. And so on. So when this woman said this, I was sympathetic. Plus, she is absolutely welcome to her opinion.

But then (and of course there's a, "But then.") she said, "When I moved here, my taxes were $6000 a year. Now they are over $24,000."


I know the tax rate in this town. And when she said this I was quickly able to determine that her home is assessed at about $3,500,000. That's assessed value, not market value -- which likely would be higher.

I worked hard to keep my poker face on while I offered facts on the project. And this woman continued find reasons to dismiss those facts.

Shortly, though, the woman said, "Well, I've got to run. I'm trying to get to Nantucket for a couple days and need to make a ferry."

My acquaintance said, "Sounds wonderful. Where do you stay on Nantucket?"

The woman said, "Oh, I have a house."