I am responding to an article appearing in Friday's paper that caught my attention — one that should catch EVERY Gilford resident's attention — entitled, "Gilford plans to increase trash hauler tipping fees in effort to trim taxpayer subsidy".
Let me first state that there are several items that, in my mind, are BASIC functions of a municipal society: police, fire, ambulance, roads and the maintenance thereof, and trash. Why? Because all of these items are beyond the ability of individual citizens. Speaking specifically to the topic of garbage — yes, there was a time when everyone had garbage disposals and small incinerators on their property, which took care of almost everything, and every town and city maintained its own landfill. Of course, those days are long behind us, thanks in no small part to environmental concerns and GOVERNMENT regulation. Thus, it only makes sense to handle this necessary task through the collective society, much like the other aforementioned basic public services. While it might seem on its face that the proposal to increase fees on haulers only affects SOME people, the reality is that EVERYBODY generates trash, and this affects EVERYBODY. To claim otherwise is not true. This proposal will affect everyone in town, whether you receive curbside pickup, or use a dumpster located within town limits.
Beyond this, however, is the more pertinent fact: this is a ploy by which the town will seek to raise our taxes without actually admitting it. Town Administrator Dunn is quoted in the article as saying, "In theory, people will pay more to their trash haulers and less in taxes." RIGHT — if anybody believes that, I have a nice bridge in Brooklyn for sale that I'd LOVE to sell you! Perhaps that's what the "theory" might be, but we all know what the REALITY is: Our taxes will stay the same, at best, but, as in most years, will probably go up — even if it's just a little. You see, what ending this so-called "subsidy" really means is that we, the hapless citizens of Gilford, will pay more for trash removal: a FEE, and the municipal budget will gain "as much as $100,000 during the balance of the 2013 budget year" to spend on something else.
Does anybody believe that by shifting this "subsidy" off budget that our taxes will go DOWN? This just gives them cover to INCREASE spending in some other area of the budget. Oh, and if paying for a basic municipal service like trash tipping is a "subsidy," what does that make the paying of, oh, say health insurance for town employees? Do we not "subsidize" THAT?
I have a great idea — if we want to "save" much more than a hundred grand of taxpayer monies, how about if we eliminate the school superintendent's position as decided by several votes of the people? Why must I continue to "subsidize" that particular job when I neither send students to the school from my home OR my business? In fact, if we start applying Mr. Dunn's logic as used in this instance, one could make a case for ending MANY "subsidies" here in town. The Glendale Docks? I don't own a boat. Why should I "subsidize" those? Dittos for the town-supplied dumpsters there. Why should I "subsidize" the islanders? The library? I have NEVER checked out anything from there. (I refuse to encourage them.) I prefer to PURCHASE the books I read. Parks and Rec? If I want to hike, or go to a Red Sox game, I'll do it on my own. My point is, do we really need to go down that road? What ISN'T a "subsidy" within our budget?
I ask my fellow residents to join me in attending the public hearing on May 8th and tell the Selectmen "NO. We don't need a hidden tax increase. We already pay enough!"