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Feb 20, 2003 to Feb 6, 2013

What Is A Homeowner Suppose To Do?


2012 will be remembered as an extraordinarily difficult year for Brattleboro residents. Since January the Vermont Legislature has voted out of committee to increase the state education tax rate by five cents; to increase the gas tax by two cents with another eight cent increase in the future; and to tax any drink containing sugar at one cent per ounce that will add thirty-three cents to the price of a liter.

At the local level property owners will be hit with a projected utility budget deficit of $600,000; the annual increase in the water and sewer rates for the new treatment plant; the increase in property taxes for the new fire and police station; the increase in the town operating budget; the increase in the town school budget; and the increase in the BUHS budget. Adding to the taxpayer’s misery is a town grand list that has flat-lined.

What is a homeowner suppose to do?

Recommendation #1: Understand what you are up against at the local level. The last time Representative Town Meeting reduced a town or school budget was thirty years ago in 1983. Whether it’s the school system or the town, any and all budget questions at Town Meeting will elicit the following responses.

“Approximately 99% of the budget is fixed or negotiated which no one can do anything about. We have reviewed the budget line by line and have cut hundreds of thousands of dollars before we presented this budget to town meeting. This budget reflects the current economy. This budget is bare bones. This budget is essentially level funded. A level funded budget is in fact a budget cut. If you want to reduce the budget then tell us right now in specific detail where you would make those cuts. From what we understand residents in town do not want service reductions. The town’s infrastructure is falling apart. You can’t have it both ways. We are doing the very best that we can. It’s an issue of priorities. Unfunded state mandates are the real problem. We have done our due diligence. Seventy-five percent of property owners in town receive a property tax rebate, so the budget increases are in fact minimal. Do you want to put people’s lives at risk? We don’t control the weather. Borrowing money to build new infrastructure improves the local economy. Federal budget cutbacks are hurting the most vulnerable who need our help. All of our budget problems will go away when we have a single payer health care system, so please contact your representatives in Montpelier immediately!”

Listen to the school board very carefully. They have perfected the technique of guilt budgeting by taking their proposed budget increase from the previous year (example $200,000), dividing that amount by the number of days in the school year, dividing that answer by the number of students in the school system, and dividing that answer by the number of hours in a school year. This allows them to respond “oh, are you telling us that the taxpayers of Brattleboro cannot afford an additional $.65 cents per student per class hour? This budget is not the issue. The real issue …. (pause - voice rises) …. is the future of OUR children!” In response Town Meeting Reps roll over like Rover and play dead.

What is a homeowner suppose to do?

Recommendation #2: Understand what you are up against at the state level. Aside from the one new tax and two tax increases voted out of legislative committees, with a third tax increase expected on cigarettes and tobacco, the legislature has been hard at work on the following critical issues to all Vermonter’s costing taxpayers $250,000 a week.

H-37 would designate the painted turtle as Official State Reptile. H-171 would designate any dog adopted from an animal shelter as the Official State Dog. H-189 would designate the Bucktail Streamer as the Official State Fishing Fly. H-386 would designate the Tri-Color Bumblebee as the Official State Insect. S-64 would designate Kale as the Official State Vegetable.

HCR-002 designated January 10, 2013 as Homeless Awareness Day. HCR-003 designated January 11, 2013 as Human Trafficking Awareness Day. HCR-014 designated the week of January 20th as Nurse Anesthetics Week. HCR-024 designated February 1, 2013 as Wear Red Day. SCR-002 congratulates Angeleno Pizza for remaining in business for 30 years.

With our legislature dubbing around in Montpelier for five months pretending to be important, what is a homeowner suppose to do?

Recommendation #3: Don’t think about the current tax and spending crises at the town and state level. They are on autopilot. Offset your property and utility taxes by shifting 100% of your disposable income into New Hampshire. Doing so, right now, eliminates current and future consumer tax hikes by the Vermont Legislature and Representative Town Meeting. Do the math. The potential savings are enormous when you eliminate the expense of parking meters, parking fines, parking permits, the sales tax, the state meals tax, the local meals tax, the state alcohol tax, the ever increasing gas tax, the diesel tax, the pending sugar tax, the sales tax on beer, the bottle deposit tax, and the local sales tax option that Town Meeting Reps will be forced to accept sooner rather than later.

Recommendation #4: Understand the retail landscape to implement your strategy. The Exit 3 Roundabout is your ticket out of Tax Armageddon. Just across the Chesterfield Bridge is the Riverside Grocery that sells more beer and soft drinks in one day than all the stores in Brattleboro sell in one week. On average a case of beer at Riverside is four dollars cheaper than in Brattleboro. If the Legislature enacts a new tax on sweetened drinks, it provides one more good reason to shop in New Hampshire.

Just beyond the Riverside Grocery, opening soon, is a huge New Hampshire state liquor store. Oh well, there goes Vermont’s alcohol and bottle deposit tax. Beyond the new liquor store is a new tire dealer which makes three tire retailers in Chesterfield within easy distance of the Exit 3 roundabout. Tires are expensive. Oh well, there goes the Vermont sales tax. Across from Pete’s Tire Barn, formerly located in Brattleboro, is Perkins Home Center. Oh well, there goes the Vermont sales tax on hardware and building products. Don’t forget the Shell gas station. Oh well, there goes the ever increasing Vermont gas tax, the Vermont diesel tax, the Vermont tobacco tax, the Vermont sales tax on beer, the Vermont bottle tax, and the pending Vermont tax on drinks with sugar. This one is a six bagger.

Now the tax savings really begin. At the first Route 9 traffic light in Keene on your right is Vermont Cabinets. Imagine that. A Vermont company opening a new facility in New Hampshire enabling Vermont residents to purchase Vermont made products with no sales tax. I wonder if our legislators who live in a plastic bubble have a clue as to the number of Vermont businesses they have exported into New Hampshire. I can name ten from Windham County alone. We won’t discuss the loss of one-thousand white collar C&S jobs in Brattleboro that Act 250 sent to Keene. Those who earn their living in the planning and permitting process at both the state and local level in town make-believe that never happened. As Forest Gump once said, “stupid is, stupid does.”

If you take a left at the first Route 9 traffic light in Keene there is another NH state liquor store along with Dick’s Sporting Goods, Game Stop, Home Depot, Michael’s Crafts, Party Store, Pier One Imports, Price Chopper, Sleepy’s, Target, Chili’s, Longhorn Steak House, and Olive Garden. On Friday and Saturday nights you will always find a contingency of Brattleboro residents in these three restaurants to schmooze with. At the first Route 9 Rotary in Keene is Advanced Auto Parts, Applebee’s, CVS, Dollar Tree, Five Guys, Key Road Car Wash, Key Road Cinema, McDonalds, Olympia Sports, Pet Stop, Radio Shack, Sherwin Williams, Springfield Tire, Staples, TJ Max, Verizon, Wal-Mart, and a Sunoco where you can redeem your Price Chopper credits and pay no Vermont gas tax.

Recommendation #5: To financially offset the tax and spend mindset of Representative Town Meeting and the Vermont Legislature requires fiscal discipline. First, acquire a credit card that offers 2% cash back on everyday purchases and 5% cash back on gas. Second, attach a savings account to your checking account to accumulate the funds needed to pay your property tax and utility bills. Third, promise yourself that under no circumstances will you spend any of your disposable income in Brattleboro. Fourth, do your homework.

Example #1: You decide to paint your home. It will require a total of twenty gallons of primer and paint for two coats. Because you want to do a quality job worth your time and expense, you do not buy the junk paint made in China sold at Wal-Mart. The cost of twenty gallons of primer and paint at Sherwin-Williams on Putney Road is $780 plus $46.80 in sales tax for a total of $826.80. The sum of $826.80 is your paint budget which is the maximum that will be deducted from your checking account.

Home Depot in Keene sells Behr Paint whose top of the line is equivalent to Sherwin Williams. More importantly, the computers in the Home Depot paint department have the color mixing formulas for every manufacturer of paint – Benjamin Moore, California, Pittsburg, Sherwin Williams, and even Valspar which is the paint sold in Lowe’s. The cost of the twenty gallons of the top of the line primer and paint at Home Depot matched to any color you desire is $499.80 with no sales tax. Pay the $499.80 with your 2% cash back credit card that reduces your credit card bill by $9.99. Subtract from your original paint budget of $826.80 the $499.80 paid to Home Depot plus the 2% credit of $9.99 for a total savings of $317.01. Use your iPhone to transfer your $317.01 savings from your checking account into your savings account.

Congratulations! By spending your disposable income in New Hampshire you saved on that one transaction enough money to pay for one year your Brattleboro water and sewer bills. The greedy oinkers in Montpelier get nothing. As previously stated, this mindset requires discipline but will reward you big time over the long haul.

Example #2: A true story. A family member needs dental surgery. The dental surgeon in Brattleboro quoted $2,200. The sum of $2,200 is your surgery budget which is the maximum that will be deducted from your checking account. When asked if the surgeon would discount the bill for full payment up front (no credit card), the answer was “no” which indicated he was overpricing himself. A dental surgeon in Keene agreed to perform the exact same one hour surgery, with full payment up front (no credit card) for $1,200 representing a stunning $1,000 savings. Transfer the $1,000 from your checking account into your savings account.

Congratulations! By spending your disposable income in New Hampshire you saved on that one transaction enough money to pay a substantial chunk of your ever increasing Brattleboro property tax bill. The tax loss to Montpelier is the loss of income tax the dental surgeon in Brattleboro did not receive that begs the following question.

Why is everything so expensive in Brattleboro? Answer: Property Taxes.

When a homeowner pays their property taxes it reduces their disposable income. When a business in Brattleboro pays their property taxes it is an expense which is a cost of goods sold reflected in the price of the product sold or service performed. That is why everything is so expensive in Brattleboro. The net effect when a homeowner in town spends their after tax income buying locally they are in fact paying Brattleboro property taxes twice which makes no financial sense.

In testimony last month in the Vermont Legislature, economist Art Woolf stated that since 1969 when the sales tax was enacted through 2008, Vermont has lost a half a BILLION dollars in tax revenue to New Hampshire. It’s called the Law of Diminishing Returns that neither our Legislature nor Representative Town Meeting understands. The more revenue they want to spend by taxing more, the less revenue they receive because Brattleboro residents have the geographic opportunity to opt out. Vermont is not an island in the middle of an ocean.

That is how you offset the tax and spend pandemic in Vermont. And best of all, there is absolutely nothing that the tax and spend mental midgets in Brattleboro or Montpelier can do about it.

RLElkins

P.S. If any of the iBrattleboro readers find this article upsetting, please feel free to absorb your tears with a box of Kleenex purchased at Target in Keene. They have the lowest prices. The money you save can be used to pay for your therapy sessions with your psychiatrist that will put you in a better frame of mind when you are working on the Brattleboro Town Plan.

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Question

So please tell me again why it is you live here in Brattleboro if the grass is so much greener on the other side of the river? (I'm not picking on you here, no tongue in cheek this time, I'm just curious as to why you stay. You do live here, don't you?)

 
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Question

I have the same thought every time I drive by a crowd of protestors in front of the post office on my way to work.

 
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Twilight Zone

Don't know why other people stick around, but I know I'd move without hesitation if I could afford to. Moving costs money. Income doesn't keep up with inflation; it's very difficult to patch together two or three part-time jobs and have it all work out (speaking to a gigantic lack of full time openings)after spending the first 6 years here and having to relocate 6 times, I eventually realized that any hope of having a car was gone, too. High rents, deposits that were only refunded by half if at all, rental trucks, replacing the shades found for the first house didn't fit in the next, and so on; The washer that was allowed in the third place wasn't allowed in the forth place.. waste waste waste and more waste. Finally get settled into a neighborhood that turns into one of the worst periods of my entire life, rife with some of the most rabid people I've ever met ..
I wish I had known ahead of time that we were aiming to be first, a place for tourists. It would have told me I was parking in the wrong lot.
I don't necessarily fault Brattleboro for all of this.. but on the other hand, I think the notion that we can thrive as individuals on the tourist handout is a folly.
I made a very ignorant decision to have come here in the first place, but I have to say, nothing IRKS me more than having someone ask "well why don't you just move then?".
Happy too. Let me first find the job; then do the math.. how many years of saving does it take to leave Brattleboro?
And people really wonder why not everyone will shop local? Oh please.

 
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Signpost up ahead

I'm sorry I haven't been able to get back here for this discussion until now. I don't know if babalu's comment "nothing IRKS me more..." was directed at me or people in general, but I would like to point out that I did not ask "why don't you just move"? I asked why Mr. Elkins stayed. A very different question in my book. I've lived here since 1995. I am also in the "can't afford to move" boat. I've thought about it and begun work on figuring out how to accomplish it several times. I don't own a home, I rent. My last automobile died a few years back and I could not afford to replace it, especially considering that my low paying job reduced my work by almost 8 hours per week. I was one of those paying so much for my health care insurance that I could not afford to go to a doctor or continue with needed medications. For awhile I had decent jobs (for the area) but they are gone. I had hoped to improve the quality of my life, and it did that for awhile, in spite of working 70 hours a week at three jobs for several years to pay the bills, in spite of working on salary with no healthcare for 12 to 15 hours a day and an average of two days off a month - a job I quit; the fallout from that choice destroyed my life for several years and I am still rebuilding it. I will not characterize how I feel about my last few years here as I was brought up not to use that kind of language in public. I really liked the Brattleboro into which I moved. It has changed considerably. And yet, for various reasons (some of which don't make very much sense to me) I have made my peace with staying here. Sort of.

I've long been appalled at the attempt to reposition town as a tourist destination and shopping center for second home owners, but that is a market we need to tap. Walmart opening across the river was, in my opinion, an intentional move meant to destroy the everyday business of our town - remember, Vermont refused to allow Walmart to move in at the time. And several of the few downtown businesses which actually sold things that mattered to the people who live here and which had affordable prices, closed in short order. Businesses like the Book Press and Northeast Cooperatives are gone. We don't have many jobs left that pay livable wages. The general respect for each other that folks used to at least seem to have has descended into constant never-ending squabbling and political posturing. But of course, all of this is true everywhere, and has been noted by every generation.

I know I often ask myself one question. The answer to it cemented my decision to move here in 1995 after I was downsized out of a 20 year career. If I won the lottery - meaning that if money were not a problem - what would I do? Until a few years ago, my answer to the same question was that I would continue living here. I am no longer so certain of that answer. So I'm curious as to why people, especially those who seem to be unhappy here, stay.

 
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Why Stay Here?

"why people, especially those who seem to be unhappy here, stay." Fair question. Truthfull answer. I am leaving with lots of regrets. See attached link. When I first acquired this property taxes were $600 a year. With what Town Meeting just approved the new tax bill will be in excess of $18,500 the bulk of which is the public school system in town that I would not send my dog to.

http://www.berkleyveller.com/index.php?action=listingview&listingID=218192

 
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Sorry to hear

I'm really sorry to hear that you're leaving town but what you describe in terms of taxes does seem pretty intense. You wrote elsewhere about an exponential rise in taxes if costs continue to outstrip growth. I wish that didn't seem likely, and worry that the only thing that will deter us (collectively) from pursuing our disastrous course is actual disaster.

Good luck, RLElkins. I hope we continue to hear from you wherever you end up.

 
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The Church of Elkins

How about donating the property to a non-profit? Or make it a church and get off the tax roll. : )

Just kidding. Sorry to hear you reached a breaking point. You are not alone. I've hear a number of others starting to consider the same thing.

 
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interesting question

I have asked myself that more times than you can know, and it has been a topic of discussion many, many times. For the life of me, I have never been able to figure this town out.

 
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Í'm printing this one!

RLElkins, I don't know who you are, but if you are not writing books, we all lose. This is fabulous! Thanks.

 
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The Meaning of Ingrate.

Perhaps a good thing for you to do, since you ask, is keep in mind that you are now paying the lowest taxes that any American has paid all the way back to Truman. Therefore, keep also in mind that this mindless griping is just the ugly sound of an ingrate unwilling to pay his share of the money necessary to keep the government strong and protecting you. The kind name for this behavior is INGRATE. You are, by not paying your share, cheating your kids and the next generation of the stuff that you have enjoyed and wasted throughout your life. Go get a job. Isn't that what you say to poor people when they complain?

 
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Mean Ingrate?

xteeth makes a good point.

This RLElkins missive is a bit different than most of his pieces, in that the humor here is thin, the underlying bitterness is less masked, and it reads like a laundry list of gripes.

Generally RLElkin's pieces start off as brilliant spoofs of self-important bureaucrats and petty tyrants, but end up with no insight into the underlying problems, resting all the blame on liberals with trust funds, and higher income people being exploited by a system which coddles the lazy poor.

 
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I saw some humor

I didn't take it as seriously as some. I found the premise quite amusing, myself. It reminds me of someone I knew in Florida who liked to go around and open new accounts each time the bank offered any gifts for deposits. They spent far more hours following their savings plan than they got rewarded in return.

The "argument" is an absurd one - to be able to afford to live in Brattleboro one must save enough to pay for Brattleboro taxes, and the only way to do that is to buy everything elsewhere with a cash back credit card to accumulate enough savings to pay those taxes.

Shorter version - to live here where you love, you must live somewhere else. (That's funny to me...)

Vermonters do owe the taxes on many things they buy elsewhere. Credit cards? Maybe if one is wealthy they can avoid all the fees (but in that case, they can likely afford the taxes). The time do all of your living in another city? Costly for many.

The big point? Taxes and fees are rising in Brattleboro and no one is reigning it in. All of the purchases of the last decade are coming home to roost very soon. People are at their breaking points and the Elkins plan for affording living here, while absurd, points out the similar absurdity of our system of increasing taxes and fees.

I did enjoy the rather accurate description of what taxpayers are told about each and every budget. It's how I've heard the story every year.

 
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Cost of projects coming home to roost

RLElkins description of local petty tyrants is incisive. For example"

“At the end of my presentation questions will be allowed, however, my answers may not be forthcoming or truthful. It is very important for me to listen to your input. Your feedback is critical to my master plan planning plan mandate provided you present your thoughts to me in a respectful tone whether or not I respect you."

http://ibrattleboro.com/sections/rumors/master-plan-planning-master

The parking garage... um, Brattleboro Transportation Center... is a case of taxpayers bearing the burden of irresponsible spending. I recall that when it was first proposed, the price tag was to be $3.5 million, and then 6 or 7 million, and finally around $12 million. The garage proponents also promised that parking meter fees would increase by only 3%. That turned out to be totally false. And the projected cost/revenue turned out to be fictitious. 

At least then, the town reps had to vote openly on the bond issue (now it is a secret ballot, which is unconscionable for a representative public body). At that time, recognizing the moral imperative to put such a major expenditure before the public, the town representatives agreed in advance that, regardless of how their vote would turn out, the issue would be put before the voters for a town-wide vote. 

To manipulate the vote, there was an intense disinformation, including a totally false claim that interstate buses would come to downtown if the Transportation Center would be built. Immediately after the vote, it was revealed that the bus companies had never made such a promise, and in fact said that, in principle, they would not be able to come to downtown because it would take too much time off their schedules.

People who opposed the bond were excoriated and treated in a demeaning fashion by our selectboard, including Carl Anderson and Charlie Slate.

It has become quite clear in my view that making it unpleasant to speak out on "hot-button" issues has been an very effective tactic in Brattleboro on controversial issues... most recently the proposed skatepark.

My feeling about RLElkins are mixed. I totally admire him as a brilliant satirist. But his analysis is shallow or non-existent. He exposes the lack of real public process in Brattleboro, and the self-serving agendas so often pushed by public officials.

But I have never seen anything by RLElkins which puts local dilemmas into a national perspective. I guess he would have to attack Republicans to do that, but he prefers to blame everything on liberals and on the poor.

 
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Well Said. This is Basic Economics 100

Well said. In economics 101 the introduction to sales covers the topic of out pricing products and services. Over charging or charging a fee for products and services that makes the product or service unaffordable or less affordable to the majority of customers.
A highly taxed area (state) becomes a major deterrent for consumers to make purchases. As Vermont continues to raise all these taxes a penny here a penny there all this is serving to do is continue to push business and residence out of and away from the state.
So many people are saying more and more how expensive it is to travel in Vermont and limiting there visits here. These regressive taxes only continue to decrease any potential increase in state and local revenue simply because the state is becoming less attractive to any potential consumers.

The state and local governments needs to find more creative progressive measures to attract more people and businesses to the state. Decease spending make cuts in budgets that will help promote a balanced and healthy state and local economy during these times. Cost of everything continue to rise and yet salaries remain low for the average household.
The only way i see the state and local government to increase revenue is by making the state of Vermont a more welcoming state to businesses and the cost of living in this state low enough to attract more people to live in this state.
........
I am speaking to the choir here though.....

 
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What happened to the Vermont that was relaxing

Oh one last comment. When I was seeing my optometrist in Massachusetts he was asking me why is it that Vermont seems to becoming such a militant state? He asked about seeing so many out of state people being ticketed for speeding, parking fines, and other such things. He informed me that he use to love to come up to Vermont for day trips with his children now finds it too much of a hassle. He said that many of his clients have been saying the something. Vermont has earned the reputation of being the most restrictive state to drive in.

He asked "what happened to the Vermont I used to be able to go too to relax?"
That question just does not sit well with me.
What is Vermont becoming?

 
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what happened to the Vermont ?

Perhaps the main change is that people are complaining on the basis of anecdotal, unsupported evidence. This is more of the old fart thing. My father used to complain about how silly it was for "kids" to want a second speaker with their HiFi systems. I have found myself using the same poor arguments against quad sound. Where will it all end? The answer is that we will all be dead. Get over it and leave your depressing criticism of change with your equally depressed friends.

 
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who's the old fart?

xteeth, you slap aside the true issues effecting residents of Brattleboro and VT just like "the old fart" you describe.
The impending tax increases in the town are very real, as are the current taxes that make it ridiculous to shop in VT when NH is right next door. Its great to support local vendors, pity the state of Vermont makes this difficult. And these issues have a knock on effect on economic development and establishment of new , well paying jobs in the state. There is plenty of real hard evidence that you choose to brush aside.

 
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I notice this deafening

I notice this deafening silence about the unrefuted fact that you, me and everyone are just paying too little to our government for the things that we seem to want. You received a free ride from your parents and now you are fobbing off your responsibilities on the next generations. The people in NH (me included though I have fought against it) seem to think that the solution is to get someone else to pay for the government services that they enjoy. Vermont and Mass and Maine have chosen to finance their government with sales taxes (and income taxes mostly) and then we in NH suborn them to come to NH and not pay those taxes for which you voted and we did not. The result is that you don't have the stuff that could be paid for if your system was complete, and we don't get the stuff that we seem to want as we don't have the taxes to pay for them. That is one sub-problem but the big one is that we just plain don't pay enough. That is being an ingrate and I am glad that I won't be here when that particular chicken, which has big teeth and is the size of Godzilla comes looking for its due.
All the brushing in the world will not change the fact that you, me, the rich, the poor, all pay the smallest amount of taxes that any American has paid all the way back to Truman.

 
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You got cotton in your ears

Your response is tantamount to plugging your ears and stamping your feet, so you have devolve from a old farty curmudgeon to a wailing little baby. Its disheartening when one tries to make an argument of fiscal responsibility and you counter by bellowing "we just don't pay enough." And your factoid that we pay less in taxes since Truman certainly doesn't take into the fact many things are not "apples to oranges" in that scenario. I am sure their are numerous things, expenses, that are as percent much higher today than back in the 40's. Frankly, it sure as hell doesn't feel like I am paying less.

 
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Of course it doesn't seem like you are paying too little.

That is always the way it is. I have felt like that myself but in this case it just isn't true. By any measure all these apples and oranges which you bemoan were pears and peaches for our parents. The fact remains that we are paying less. How is it that acknowledging the statistical reality is "plugging your ears and stamping your feet" when bemoaning and being disenheartened isn't much worse when the arguments you make are based upon the feeling of entitlement coming from having had your parents pay for these things and not wishing to pay forward them for the next generation.

We haven't even gotten to the real expenses that we are all shirking such as global warming, the waste of natural resources and the destruction of our world. What are you doing for the future generations to make up for the degraded condition of the world in which we all take part? Talk about not paying enough. Are you giving your children swimming lessons so that when the oceans rise they will be prepared? For how long can we tread water.

You don't argue for fiscal responsibility, you argue for someone else paying your bills. Over and over Cantservatives wail about the budget deficit but when it is their turn to control the economy (George W. Bush was the last time) you grew the government by about one half, and set the economic path you now bemoan with two unpaid for wars and tax cuts that have shoveled all the money you now don't seem to have to the wealthy who had it then and have much more now. You are sure of this and sure of that but have no examples nor anything other than fear to show. Expenses are higher now because of what? and which expenses. Is that second WII box and that 50 inch TV my fault or yours? That $60,000 college tuition - the same as the $4,000 for my generation? They paid for the highway system and you paid for telecom satellites. They provided what you needed for a pretty nice world and you are turning over crap to your kids. Mercury in the water, nuclear waste products for the electrical energy you used, and on and on and on. How about a smaller amount of bleating and a larger amount of work to pay your fair share?

 
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wedged in your ears

"you don't argue for fiscal responsibility, you argue for someone else to pay your bills"
It is frustrating to discuss this with you when I have to send my time pointing out to you ridiculous assertions and conclusions you draw from statements one says. And you just keep repeating your mantra over and over until, I guess, it comes true. And to bolster your argument, you paste one with the conservative tag like they are a criminal for even suggesting reduced spending. I guess you should have watched the town mtg yesterday, it was full of ingrates and Tea Party crazies.

 
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If I had a dollar

If I had a dollar earned. 33% of that dollar goes to the federal government as income tax. So now I've earned $0.77 now.$0.10 goes to the state for income tax. I've now $0.67 to earn that dollar i need a car and gas to drive I'll low ball the average and say that comes to about $0.05 to earn that dollar. I now have earned $0.62 I must pay for shelter which is about 25% of my gross income, I've now earned $0.37. I must pay for my healthcare which is about 30% of my income, I am now left with $0.07 earned. I might be able to pay for some of the utilities owed, yet no I will need to spend more time to make more money to pay for the ever increasing cost of just getting by. There are 24 hours in a day if I can work all 24 of these hours that means I can afford to pay for all these expenses yet if at any time I become sick then somehow I must borrow money to continue to pay for the basic needs. Which means I will have to pay more from that dollar to the financial institutions and will leave me owing more for each dollar I earn.
So where can I get that money from when I am already working 24 a day. Can I work two jobs at the same time and get double pay for the same hour?

If there is no money available to earn then how can someone pay more when they have nothing more to give?

This is not an accurate calculation, but I offer this as an example of what many people are being faced with. The answer is not with increase in taxes. I feel the answer comes from people coming together and making personal efforts to help keep the cost for running the government down by stepping up to the plate and make the time to help each other out.

We demand far more from our government then we are able to pay for. If we do not have the money to pay for services then roll up our sleeves and do the work ourselves..

Depending on others to do everything is a luxury we have made into an expectation. I don't need a government to tell me too much sugar is bad for me nor tax me to use the sugar with my tea. I need a government to offer the tools to maintain a strong and healthy community.
I. Am sure my point has been made....
Goodness I am going on and on here. Please excuse my ranting.
Mark Raymond

 
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Are your parents still available for questions?

Sadly mine aren't. I did get quite the lecture from them about what it was like during the Depression. It makes all these plaints seem weak and somehow insulting. I suppose you would think of this as all the "when I was young I walked uphill to school and uphill to get home again." If you can't see how you have been blessed by the real difficulties they suffered then I can't help you, you are ungrateful. Since WWII we have had a wonderful ride. Even Vietnam, only (I say this knowing the horror) killed 55,000 Americans. Some eight times that many died in WWII. As stupid as Iraq (4,500) and Afghanistan (2,000) were, they were a relative cake walk. Then there were all the government programs we have now discontinued TVA, WPA, CCC and on and on. That is where our infrastructure was built.

All the complaining from the wealthy is ingrate stuff. Under Reagan the top marginal rate was over 90%. Government expenditures have been about 18% of GDP and now they are down to 14%. Perhaps taking more from you is unfair even though you are paying the lowest percent since Truman and that is true if you are poor, middle or wealthy. Somebody is going to have to belly up to the bar. There are three ways to instantly adequately fund the government. 1) Quit waging wars - Iraq has cost $2.2 trillion so far. 2) Repeal the Bush tax cuts from 2001 and put back the rates from Reagan years. 3) The thing you are doing in Vermont - namely single payer universal health care just like every other industrialized nation. To insure the 43 million or so uninsured can be neatly done with the ending of the 34% that private insurance companies take out of the health care stream.

Just think of what would happen if we did all three at the same time.

 
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sadly I am old and yes my farts can be too, but.....

Thank you for such a thought filled response "xteeth". My farts may be old yet my friends and I are not lost in the dark hopeless place of depression. We all see that this is a difficult time for our community and the world's economic situation. We also see that this is not a permanent state of being. As with all things changes come as each moment passes forward. As the pendulum is swinging in a time of restructuring this gives opportunity for making improvements in the many foundational structures of our world.
This is a time to work towards improvements of our governments direction and I have much faith that our elected officials are working hard towards rebuilding a system that will serve to meet these changing needs of our new social dynamics. Vermont is a place I love and have lived here for well over twenty years and grew up just south of this fine place.
I do have faith that the people of this area will continue to work towards creating a balanced economically stable system that will serve to bring this community back on its feet. Brattleboro has many challenges and can only hope that there are more people willing to step forward and make personal efforts to help keep town cost down by taking responsibility of ourselves, neighborhood, and businesses. It seems to me that there are so many people self absorbed and overly dependant upon the governments to take care of our town.
I am not a democrat. I am not a Republican. I am apart of a group of people who believe in compromise and finding solutions rather then poking jabs at those who disagree. We seek understanding of the issue and offer ideas of resolution to problem solve the challenge in front of us.

We will get through this challenging time and hopefully our community will grow from these challenges we are faced with. Personal responsibility and offering a helping hand to build a strong healthy community rather then continued expectation of our government to resolve these burdens is the answer I see. I am sure you "xteeth" take the extra effort to help keep town and state cost down by making the extra effort to do a task that otherwise would be seen as a task the government needs to tend to.
Mark Raymond, Brattleboro, Vermont

 
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Well, people who play by the rules don't get penalized

"...so many out of state people being ticketed for speeding, parking fines, and other such things. He informed me that he use to love to come up to Vermont for day trips with his children now finds it too much of a hassle. He said that many of his clients have been saying the something."

People who come to Vermont and do not speed do not get ticketed for speeding. People who come to Vermont, read the signs, and responsibly feed the parking meter do not get tickets. People who think that following these basic rules are a hassle and make our state unattractive have an unfortunate sense of overblown entitlement.

People who come to Vermont for day trips with children should be driving responsibly and setting a good civic example by paying for parking and/or gracefully accepting the consequences if they have made a mistake.

I don't buy this guy's argument at all.

 
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My point here was that people

My point here was that people are losing desire to visit Vermont and are saying they feel Vermont is becoming a very restricted state. I was taking by his words and is why I have shared this here. Also the fact that I do not use an eye doctor here in Vermont because of cost.
It was a very lose association.

 
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huh

The only people I have ever met who were arrested for traffic violations were, in fact guilty.
It always has amazed the volume of traffic on the highways on the weekends in VT, particularly during skiing season, all moving way faster than the speed limit. For the police, it must be like shooting fish in the barrel.

 
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Sometimes there is no left or right

Irresponsible spending seems to me the most important phrase to me.

While there was a demonstrated need to replace the stairs at the Police Station, the decision to spend in excess of 14 million on the new projects has to be revisited.

You can't buy what you can't afford. Some homeowners cannot afford these decisions. In our case we rent out half of our house. It has forced us to increase the rent that we ask for half of our house, making the cost of housing more expensive for our renters. However, we cannot just keep on increasing the rent. The main solution has to be budget cuts.

Want a specific line item I want cut? That actually seems very reasonable request.

The Fire Station and Police Station upgrades MUST be reconsidered.

Meanwhile our police are poorly paid and we are not retaining them. What is needed is upgrades in their pay, upgrades we cannot even beging to contemplate while we are under this debt.

 
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Sounds good

Until you realize that others in the past have indeed paid for these things or given them up. The line between can't afford and dislike paying your fair share is a very blurry one these days. Not to get into the bushes on the subject too far but the usual mechanism for getting things for which you are unwilling to pay is to extend the hours and cut the pay of those that work for the government and that just isn't fair. Teachers, police, fire, government bureaucrats have had their effective pay cut and hours extended ad infinitum while the babysitting requirements go through the roof. Now we are involved in this totally horrible exercise (sequestration) where both Dems and Repubs try to select out the things to cut that cause the most howling so that the howling can be blamed on the other party. Eliminating one F22 would provide for 2,700 $40,000 a year government employees to keep their jobs. It is the case, however, that this is the first real cut (not a reduction in the amount of projected increase) in defense spending in my lifetime. And what do the military choose to cut? Furloughs and pay of soldiers and a few contracts in the areas with the largest total contracts knowing that the howling will be passed along to Congress through the lobbyists and contractors that pay the billions in bribes to keep the military money flowing.

 
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Nicely Said

Three cheers for XTEETH. Thank you.

 
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I agree that the upgrades need to be reconsidered

I believe in supporting our fire and police workers -- they do a very important job. But I would like to see the town go back to the consultants who did the initial proposal and say "We picked this option. Now give us a pared-down, cheaper plan for getting it done." We might even ask for three options - 10% cheaper, 25% cheaper, 50% cheaper - and a detailed list of what must be cut to achieve them. As a homeowner, I would never take the first estimate I was given for a particular project.

 
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New SB Should Consider ...

During the bond vote last fall, a few of us requested that a Peer Review be conducted on the project. The response from the Town was that a Peer Review was not required since Dick DeGray had sat down with the designers and got the project scope reduced that has lowered the cost from $14.8m to $14.1m+/-.

A Peer Review is an evaluation of a project by other educated and experienced people in the field. The key here is that the reviewers must be experienced in conducting these types of reviews and must have no financial stake in the results of the review. The financial incentives for the current engineers and architects are to keep the project improvements at $14.1m to support the higher fee associated with the higher project costs.

The current MO of the Town governance is to use smoke and mirrors to cloud the decision and to then state that we need to trust that they’ve found the best solution. I honestly think that they feel that they’ve found the best solution. What, beyond pride, is at stake if an alternative priced at $6-8m was identified and the community could assess the pros and cons of both proposals? Instead, the Town governance last fall marries the bond vote with the proposal that many will fight to their last breath - to raise sales taxes. Does anyone honestly think that having the sales tax voted on at that meeting (for yet another time) was anything other than an attempt to gain support for the police and fire improvements? For those dead set against the sales tax, they gained credibility for their opposition by coming out in support of the fire and police project. If I have one charge for the new selectboard, it’s to end the smoke and mirrors operation of this town. What better way to initiate this than to vote to put the project on hold while conducting a true Peer Review.

 
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Sorry, but...

I fear such a prudent suggestion will likely also find itself in the bone yard of reasonable possibilities in Brattleboro.

 
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I am not willing to give up my optimism

I think this town is capable of growing and changing and embracing many helpful and cost-cutting ideas.

It's people who naysay the positive who cause others to lose their faith. Let's just not go there -- let's choose to think positively and assume that we are capable of addressing these issues productively as a town.

 
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oh...

.
...it is the "people who naysay 'the positive' who cause others to lose their faith"? I thought it was more related to arrogant leadership styles, local politics and political agendas, recorded history, and those "capable" individuals who approve these projects (that later become an “issue” that requires cost-cutting ideas) that rattled public optimism?

Might naysayers now ask why productively addressing these "issues" as a town often produces little-to-nothing in terms of meaningful responses or public awareness (e.g., at town meetings where KM and others suggested standard cost-cutting strategies for this particular project, or how to address violence in town, or the importance of “public buy-in” to project planning)?

Personally, I’m not real big on simply choosing to be “positive”, making assumptions, or suggesting that it is unhappy people that are the root of a any problem, or as means to finding meaningful solutions. I think we need to look to expertise and sound strategies. But these have been rejected too often, as of late.

Not to continue being a “naysayer” but I also must question how choosing to think positively, or assuming capability, works as an effective strategy on other local “issues” that continue to remain "issues", like having the highest property taxes in the state, poverty and unemployment in town, unaffordable housing and heating fuel, our community’s need for food pantries, the effects of I-91 heroine corridor on Brattleboro, etc. will work, or has thus far?

 
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Freudian slip?

heroin corridor

 

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