Opinion: Actions Speak Louder than Words

Gail Besse Ryberg

April 18, 2023 By Gail Besse Ryberg

The recommendation for a nearly $8 million tax override is eye-popping, so I looked to Google to help put it in perspective. The links below show that Hingham is among the elite of the elite, both in Massachusetts and relative to the entire country.

We talk about being a welcoming and inclusive town, but we are pricing people out. We say we care about our elders and want our police, fire fighters and teachers to work and live here.

Actions speak louder than words. We continue to increase taxes, and now inflation compounds that burden.

We should be honest and admit that our choices do not reflect our professions of inclusivity, belonging, and caring for our neighbor. They don’t reflect well on our regard for those in our community whose income has not kept pace with rising property values.

I agree with the nonpartisan grassroots group Citizens for Affordable Hingham (www.affordablehingham.com); it’s time for fiscal restraint.

“Hingham received one-time federal funding for COVID-related deficits. Staff was added using these funds. It was understood these were not permanent positions. The COVID emergency declaration has ended. It’s time to return to pre-COVID levels,” the group urges.

But the “level services” override budget now makes these “temporary” positions permanent!

Citizens for Affordable Hingham concludes that at current spending levels, the five-year forecast shows another override will be necessary. There’s a proposed Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with our elected officials saying this won’t happen, but that’s a goal, not an enforceable plan.

Increased use of tax relief programs indicates that seniors, especially, are being priced out of town. It’s unrealistic to suggest that those who need extra income to stay here can afford to create an accessory dwelling unit (ADU), become landlords, and then wait years to recoup their investment.

Do we really need to spend more, or like most of the rest of the state and country, can we do with a bit less to preserve the staying power of those already here and to keep the door open for others?

This is the second largest override in our benchmark communities and the 7th largest override in Massachusetts history: Prop 2.5 Override Underride Votes (state.ma.us)

Let’s aggressively pursue realistic non-override revenue options before burdening ourselves with higher taxes, which the proposed $8 million override will certainly do.

Notes: https://www.mass.gov/info-details/massachusetts-average-single-family-tax

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