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Facts, not fear-mongering, in considering high school renovation

By Tuesday, Oct 28, 2014 Letters 1

To the Editor:

I write in support of the renovation proposal for the high school that is on the ballot in West Stockbridge, Stockbridge and Great Barrington. Up until this point I have not entered the public fray, but this morning I began to see a line of argument that borders on dishonest fear-mongering of the sort we have become used to from our national political discourse.

In this morning’s Pittsfield-based newspaper there were two letters advocating a no vote that used the figure of $300 as the average annual property tax increase for residents of Great Barrington. I have to say that using averages in this way is problematic. You have fabulous estates and simple, but comfortable residences all mixed together to create an average. This mix includes second homeowners, the folks up on the hill in GB and folks in the village of Housatonic. It really is quite a range and by no means can you tell people that they will pay $300 in extra taxes if the proposal is successful. However, this is the message that a certain group (including a GB Selectman) has decided to convey.

Let’s look at the numbers:

Assessed value of $326,100 = $300/year

Assessed value of $200,000 = $184/year

Assessed value of $150,000 = $138/year

I’m not saying these amounts don’t represent a sacrifice, but let’s be honest and not use averages as the starting point for the discussion. Be honest and acknowledge that there is a wide range of property values across our communities. Ultimately, property taxes are progressive, the more assessed value the greater the share or contribution to society or the greater good.

Let’s try to keep this discussion based on the facts and not the fear.

Andy Potter

Great Barrington