In its letter the Steering Committee of Friends of the GB Libraries write: “Cutting the very programs that enrich Great Barrington and attract positive attention to our town is no way to encourage growth.”
“Sometimes the easiest thing to do is cut some of the lowest hanging fruit but sometimes it’s a matter of taking a bigger picture and stepping outside and seeing what can be done for the community as a whole.”
— Local businesswoman Ilana Siegal, addressing the Selectboard on proposed cuts to the town libraries
In her letter to the editor, Sharon Gregory writes: “A potential unified tax rate would be the most direct approach. It would reduce the arcane (and inequitable) computations that drive Great Barrington’s plight.”
Selectboard Chairman Sean Stanton wondered if the town should vote down the school budget, as a “statement,” to “stoke the fire a bit,” because education “feels a little bit inequitable in the way it’s funded.”
Depending on what happens this week with the school budget, to be voted on this Thursday (March 3), the property tax rate could go up from the current rate of $14.29 per thousand to $15.15, a 6 percent hike.
In her letter to the editor, Leigh Davis writes: “Let us untangle ourselves from the mire of agendas… and celebrate the fact that Great Barrington is able to attract viable opportunities for economic growth and job creation such as this.”
“Eighty-three percent of all parcels in Great Barrington would benefit or be neutral [under the residential exemption]. If you include second homes, that changes to 74 percent.” — Finance Committee Chairman Michael Wise
In his open letter to Finance Committee Chair Michael Wise, Chip Elitzer writes: “Beyond the likely consequence of degrading our town’s tax base, the enactment of your [residential exemption] proposal would – in my opinion – degrade the civic spirit of our town by unwittingly emphasizing class distinctions among neighbors and fostering class resentment.”
Five-term Selectman Deborah McMenamy, a determined advocate for new Police Chief Robert Eaton and his style of running the department, was defeated in her quest for a sixth term. Her opponent, Ernest Cardillo, who campaigned as “the voice of the people,” won the 3-year term on the Board of Selectmen by a margin of 52 votes, 334 to 282.
The fervor and message of what appeared to be a polarizing controversy that centered on the town’s frustration with increasing property taxes and the inability of local incomes to keep up, did not seem to fuel election outcomes this time around.
We have two great candidates for selectboard in Sean Stanton and Bill Cooke who have proven themselves to be good public servants. They can bring a community with diverse opinions together rather than trying to divide. The fact that these candidates are men does not make them unqualified.
Decisions regarding our tax structure and our school district will be made over the next few years that will affect Great Barrington for generations. Thankfully, Will Curletti is running for Finance Committee.
In his letter to the editor endorse the candidacies of Bill Cooke, Sean Stanton, and Will Curletti, Ed Abrahams writes: “What I like about Sean Stanton, Bill Cooke and Will Curletti is that they are reasonable people with good judgment who listen to others before acting. All three of them get along with nearly everyone, and none of them are coming with a political agenda. They want to listen, to find ways to ease the tax burden, and to encourage economic development to broaden the tax base.”
The town’s annual election will be held Tuesday May 12, in an election that could determine a significant change in the focus of town leadership. There are contests for the four open seats on major town boards, two on the Selectboard and two on the Finance Committee. Polls will be open from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m.