To the editor:
Following rushed charter hearings last summer, the Town Council has now called for a Charter Review Commission (CRC) to be elected with the Financial Town Referendum (FTR) topic front and center. Twelve of the 24 candidates running would put the FTR at risk of outright elimination or changes that reduce the rights of Tiverton residents.
The Tiverton Taxpayers Association (TTA) has warned voters about these candidates, but some people insist that TTA candidates are only concerned with the FTR and will not improve any other sections of the Charter. A moment’s thought proves that the exact opposite is true.
Records show that the original drafting of the FTR began soon after the May 2010 Financial Town Meeting and took just about a year. Anyone who remembers that year knows it was very intense for those involved — and tense for the community watching.
Revamping or replacing the FTR will be just as big a task as it was in 2010 – 2011. It is a significant undertaking, and is so critically important to the functioning of the town that tremendous effort and attention will be needed to try to get it right.
Ask yourself: How will a CRC that takes on that monumental task have any time to perform the review of the rest of the Charter?
Answer: It won’t.
The TTA candidates pledge to “protect” the FTR, not replace it. This will free us up for most of the year to perform the charter review we were elected to do.
The dozen candidates who dislike the FTR will be bogged down for the year in myriad complex (and political) issues. They will find themselves in controversy and debate for months. How does this help the Charter? Or the townspeople?
There are two options:
Vote for the TTA slate and keep the FTR intact, clarify a single sentence regarding money from the casino, and spend the next 11 months improving all the other sections of the Charter. This will produce continued taxpayer control over taxes, including revenue from the casino, and a greatly improved Charter.
Vote for some combination of the other candidates and burn up the bulk of the year forming a new budgeting and taxing process that will face fierce political opposition on the November 2018 ballot, add in some provisions for allocating the casino money for spending off the books, and rush the last month to cram in a year’s work on the Charter. This will produce a likelihood of higher taxes, including minimal tax relief from the casino, and a haphazard review of the Charter.
Please learn about the TTA candidate slate (La Croix, Driggs, Caron, Rom, Coulter, Fougere, Clarke, Lopes and Cook) at tivertontaxpayersassociation.org/crc2017. It is composed of attorneys, engineers, business owners, and both past and present elected taxpayers — all ready to spend the year improving the charter, not replacing the FTR. Thank you for bringing the postcard inserted in this paper to the polls on Tuesday, July 18.
Stephen T Clarke
Candidate for Charter Review Commission.