To the Editor:
For the most part, budgets and warrant articles in each town are determined by each town’s board of selectman. The elected members of other town committees, for example finance committee, planning board and school committee, also greatly influence what is presented at annual town meeting.
In the end, any increase in property taxes is dependent upon the acceptance or rejection of all articles by voters at the town meeting. In effect, the voters have the power to determine the tax rate.
The boards of selectmen also have the power to grant business licenses, liquor licenses, and in Oak Bluffs, determine which properties are hooked up to the sewer treatment plant. They determine what events can be held, their operating hours, and what can be served. They also determine roadway direction, paving, and parking availability.
Perhaps, even more important, they determine which new construction projects should be considered; for example, the fire house, town hall, schools, and libraries, subject to Martha’s Vineyard Commission review.
So it sets my teeth on edge when so many people tell me that there is no use in voting since “it’s all done behind closed doors” or “that’s the way it’s always been done” or “I don’t have the time to vote or get involved.”
Let me just remind you that if you feel powerless and choose not to vote then, indeed, you are powerless — it is a self-fulfilling prophecy.
So please vote at annual town meeting and in our elections this year.