We all get frustrated with government from time to time. And with good reason.
Government at all levels has proven time after time that it can be irresponsible, arrogant and out of touch with reality.
Handing out significant raises while whining about underfunded budgets tops my list of reasons to rebel, but you may have your own personal favorite.
Every so often you get a chance to get even. Ballot Question 1 might just be your chance.
But be very careful. Voting yes on Question 1 won’t do anything to ease your pain, more than likely, it will bring you more.
A yes vote on Question 1 will cut the income tax to 2.65 percent for the tax year beginning January 2009 and in 2010 wipe it out entirely, taking with it about 40 percent of the revenues spent by the commonwealth annually.
So what you say?
Well if you live in Dracut, you could be in for the surprise of your life if Question 1 passes.
Our town does very well with state aid. To be exact, Dracut gets 32.20 percent of its operating revenues from the state. Other towns in our area get less. Andover, for instance, gets only 8.85 percent and our friends in Dunstable receive only 4.2 percent of their annual revenues from the commonwealth.
The formula is complex, but it relies on per capita income and demographics.
Stated simply, because almost all other local communities have more money, they get less from the state, and have services that are less reliant on local aid.
Translated, this means when local aid gets cut back as a result of the loss of 40 percent of the state’s revenues, Dracut will have a far greater impact on its services. At the same time, because we as a community have lower income levels than some of the wealthier towns, we save less from the elimination of the tax.
Few would argue that Dracut has fared well through the current economic downturn, but as good as our current town leadership is, keeping the ship afloat with the loss of 20 percent of its revenue would be impossible.
We’re not just talking about saying goodbye to Town Hall and high-school renovation projects, it’s more about cutting the people that provide the daily services.
Sure, there are other options — rubbish fees, transportation fees, a 2 1/2 override, close the library again.
I know, you’re thinking more scare tactics.
But local government exists to provide basic services, like public safety and education. I’d just rather have them funded by a broad-based tax like income than go the way of New Hampshire and put the burden all on the real-estate tax.
Warren Shaw is a former Dracut selectman who hosts a popular Saturday morning radio show on WCAP-AM from 6 to 10 a.m.