Letter: Broaden Hanover Decision-Making
To the Editor:
The property-tax break for military veterans in Hanover was featured in a Dec. 4 Valley News article (“In Hanover,Vets Get Helping Hand”). Without commenting on the merits of this program, we would like to suggest that the way it was carried out was flawed.
The tax break was adopted by those who attended Town Meeting last May. Town Meeting is always poorly attended (Hanover is not unusual in this respect), and the veterans group, according to the Valley News article, got its members and sympathizers to turn out in large numbers. They succeeded in increasing the magnitude of the tax break adopted by the Selectboard from $100 (up from $50) to $500. The town manager estimates that the new exemption will cost the town over $80,000 every year. Other taxpayers in town will have to make up the shortfall, which will increase over time if the number of those eligible for the exemption grows.
It is possible that a majority of voters in town would support such measures if they were on the ballot. But we will not know for sure until the town decides to adopt the form of Town Meeting that discusses fiscal issues on one day and a month later puts them on an Australian ballot for all-day voting. Although Hanover voters have previously declined to embrace this modified form of Town Meeting, it has grown in popularity since the state introduced it in 1995. Most of the larger (over 8,000 population) towns in the state now use what is called the SB2 form of Town Meeting. Hanover voters currently use Australian balloting for changes in zoning and planning laws, and we should consider doing so also for matters that increase the town’s taxes and expenditures, which affect us at least as much.
Janice and Bill Fischel