West Tisbury tax increases will erode quality of life


To the Editor:

I just received my quarterly tax bill and was shocked to see a 37 percent rise in my quarterly payment. I have been a 30-year seasonal resident in West Tisbury and am a professional economist, who chaired the governor’s Council of Economic Advisors under Governor Jodi Rell, here in Connecticut.

The town must recognize that double-digit hikes in local property taxes are counterproductive to the town’s longterm economic development and will erode the region’s quality of life in the town, if it chooses to live beyond the means of its residents. I have spoken on many occasions here in Connecticut about how the primary generators of consumer wealth – stocks, jobs, and housing – have all consolidated after one of the worst recessions since WW II. I find it highly offensive to tax local residents with these sorts of increases at a time when seniors are earning little in the way of fixed income investments, housing values have declined, and job recovery rates are dramatically lagging prior economic recoveries. In fact, most taxpayers are now seeing growth in consumer spending power that is running one-third to one-half what is normal.

Most importantly, economic research from Moody’s.com, one of the most respected economic consulting firms in the U.S., shows that 40 percent of a region’s job growth is tied to the costs of doing business. By adding to the state and local tax burden, the town is in effect undermining longterm job creation within the region, placing greater financial stress on its seniors, and demonstrating a clear lack of fiscal discipline. In effect, a rising tax burden, unchecked, implies that we become less competitive from an economic development standpoint, which will adversely impact the town’s residents in the long run.

If the town lacks a fundamental understanding of the implications from an economic development standpoint, then maybe the town would do well to reconsider its tax policies and its effect on its aging population base. In the long run, everyone must live within their means. This is a message that seems to get lost in the public sector, while the private sector deals with it every day. It’s time for the town to broaden its perspective.

Don Klepper-Smith

West Tisbury and New Haven, Connecticut