Posted Tuesday, May 9, 2017
To the editor:
As the budget season ends, we would like to make note of two important events: the Budget Committee (BC), under the chairmanship of Cecil Leonard recommended a minimal tax levy increase of 0.5% with a tax rate decrease of about five cents; and, Solicitor DeSisto followed the Charter language when he advised the Board of Canvassers not to certify what he stated was an invalid Elector Petition filed by Town Council President Chabot, Councilor Lebeau, and school officials (which would raise your taxes by 1.5%).
Unhappy with Solicitor DeSisto’s decision, these individual petitioners, joined by the School Committee, then sued the town to try to tax you more. Fortunately, DeSisto’s read of the Charter was affirmed by the Superior Court.
By Friday, 27 candidates declared to run in the Charter Review Commission (CRC) special election on July 18. Many are well known to want higher government spending and taxes, and seek to eliminate the Financial Town Referendum (FTR) to achieve their goal. One CRC candidate, formally a councilor, proposed last summer to eliminate both the FTR and BC, replaced by the Tiverton Town Council ‘doing the budget,’ stripping you of your right to vote on your taxes.
Charter changes could also risk the casino revenue’s potential to lower taxes. One CRC candidate has stated he wants only one third of the revenue to directly reduce taxes. Even worse, Chabot chairs a sub-committee, of which Lebeau is also a member, whose mission includes “developing a plan for the allocation of gaming revenue from the casino.”
When we opposed the allocation language, Lebeau said “ … you’re wasting your breath and you’re wasting our time … Just trust the council …” with the casino revenue. Trust the council with the casino money when Lebeau and Chabot filed an invalid FTR Elector Petition, and then sued the town in a further attempt to get on the ballot and raise your taxes?
Councilor Edwards, whose mother is a CRC candidate, is pushing to increase fire department platoon staffing 33% by nine full- time firefighters at great expense to the taxpayer. The casino is coming, why not a big union giveaway?
Another CRC candidate said the Budget Committee (who just delivered taxpayers a rate decrease) was “no better than Stalin, Lenin or even Kim Jung Un.”
Since 2011 when the FTR was overwhelmingly approved by a 2:1 voter margin, the annual tax levy creep has been 2.6%, 2.2%, 0.0%, 0.9%. 0.9%, and, this year, 0.5%. And the casino revenue could soon decrease taxes over 10%. But to achieve this tax decrease and protect the FTR from those who want higher taxes, taxpayer friendly candidates must be elected to the CRC. The Tiverton Taxpayers Association will be endorsing a slate of CRC candidates. We urge all voters to support them.
The authors are members of the Budget Committee, former co-chairmen of the committee that wrote and proposed the FTR charter change, and are current candidates for the Charter Review Commission