To the Editor:
Reading this week’s headline, “Edgartown mulls MVC exit,” I winced. It can be embarrassing to live in the Island town that plays least well with the others.
Edgartown officials declare themselves shocked, shocked! — at the news that this town’s share of the MVC budget is a whopping 40 percent. In fact Edgartown’s share of the MVC bill is 40 percent not because of some monstrous inequity, but simply because Edgartown has 40 percent of the Island’s taxable real estate. If your home is valued at $1 million, you’re paying exactly the same amount for the services of the Commission whether you live in Aquinnah, Chilmark, Edgartown, Oak Bluffs, Tisbury or West Tisbury. Edgartown leaders, please explain what’s so shockingly unfair about this.
Edgartown this year has now surpassed Chilmark as the town with the lowest property tax rate of all 351 towns in the Commonwealth. (The state’s average property tax rate is north of $14, while Edgartown’s rate has fallen by more than a third in five years, from $3.87 in 2018 to just $2.51 this year.)
As a regional agency serving all six towns, the Martha’s Vineyard Commission assesses one common tax rate on every dollar’s worth of Island property. If this simple formula were used to fund the Island’s largest regional institution, the Martha’s Vineyard Regional High School, the single most outrageous inequity in Island government funding would be set right, and we’d be far better off.
So here are Edgartown’s leaders, with some $11 million in free cash in reserve but moaning about the cost of a regional agency that’s billing the town for what amounts to less than two percent of the municipal budget.
I am saddened by the indefensible stance the leaders of my town are taking here.