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Friday
Mar182011

Social Justice Ends At Mark Fernald’s Wallet!

At the recent Town of Sharon town meeting Mark Fernald spoke on the floor accusing Peterborough of over charging Sharon for the use of the recycling center. His premise is based on comparing the size of Peterborough’s population with Sharon’s. This has been the standard procedure for Sharon when it comes to contracting with Peterborough for town services, to base it on population instead of property values. First, it was the Library, then the Police Dept, now the Recycling center.

Peterborough, though it has its haughtiness at times, has a ton of low-income and workforce housing. West Peterborough has two large low income projects as well as a number of the old “Mill” multi-families. Downtown Peterborough has a number of multi-families, as well as an apartment complex that was converted to Condo’s. Just off downtown Peterborough on Summer Street. there are a number of Multi-family dwellings along with a huge apartment complex and two medium size apartment complexes. North Peterborough has Riverview which I believe the Town of  Peterborough took for taxes owed and now uses it to house people who come in seeking welfare assistance. North of Conval high school is Prospect Heights (Now Pine View) which is also a huge apartment complex with a number of Condo buildings as well. South Peterborough has RiverMead, an Elderly housing complex, with another elderly complex between the Elementary School and the Golf Course.

Sharon is a town of single family houses. They have no low income housing, no workforce housing, no elderly housing, and very few multi-family homes. They have no industry or commerce to speak of, relying on Peterborough for nearly everything. Sharon has very restrictive zoning and building requirements, a minimum of 2 acres for lot sizes and they only issue a small number of building permits per year. Less polite company would call this SNOB Zoning!

For some reason Peterborough’s Town Administrator, who we pay approximately $50/hour plus benefits, keeps negotiating deals with Sharon based on population comparisons instead of Property valuations. I personally have spoken on this topic a number of times on Town Meeting floor as well in Letters to the Editor, I seem to get no where as the powers that be somehow feel like they have to keep the rich folks in Sharon well cared for. I was actually told this by a Library Trustee who claimed if I kept making waves about how Sharon pays it would jeopardize their fundraising efforts for a new Library addition!

Using population comparisons to figure Sharon’s share of the financial burden is wrong on so many levels.

As stated above Peterborough has a fluid and dynamic population compared to Sharon’s relatively static population. It is a moving target and changes constantly. Regarding the recycling center, most of Peterborough’s population causing the formula to favor Sharon lives in locations that use trash removal services (dumpsters) never going near the recycling center.

Peterborough taxpayers pay for services based on property value not how many occupants are in the building. We also pay for all the town services; we are not allowed to “pick and choose” Ala Carte, from the Peterborough town services menu. Sharon gets to pick which services they want to contract and pay for. Even poor people get to have police and fire protection, ambulance service, access to the recycling center and recreation opportunities when paid for based on property value.

Property value is a stable calculation that is set one time each year. Using Property value, Sharon should be paying approximately 7.5% of the costs for each service they want to use. It is a simple, easy calculation and would save Peterborough a ton of hours of negotiating by our Town Administrator. Here is the number if you don’t like it, shop elsewhere for your town services!

The income tax scheme which is really a wage tax on the poor and middle class and paying for services based on population shows clearly that Social Justice ends at Mark Fernald’s wallet.

Work Hard Have Fun!

Bob DeMaura

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