by Dr. Richard Juve
Last evening three Selectmen voted to give us a general tax increase of over six (6) percent. Miller Lovett and Colette Worseman, bless their hearts and my pocket, voted for a $125, 000 reduction in the budget. They were outvoted by the big spenders who gave little consideration to the consequences of their decision.
Now how many of us have received or given ourselves a six percent wage increase. Not many. With global outsourcing we might be happy to just have a job. From what I’ve been led to believe we are experiencing more retirees moving to Meredith. With average annual medical insurance costs increasing at 10-15% a year they will hard pressed to pay their mortgage and taxes. Big tax increases force some seniors to dig into their savings and turn to credit cards to pay their bills. Seniors are struggling in retirement to pay off loans they took out for a child and grandchild’s college education.
Retirement should be a time to enjoy life, not worry about growing debt, and soaring health care costs. People are living longer and seniors subsist on fixed incomes. A high tax increase is an unexpected expense and seniors have no way to boost their incomes. A fat tax increase increases their overall debt load and puts them at risk. The Seniors in Meredith expect and deserve better.
A six percent tax increase does not bode well for Meredith’s senior financial health. It contributes to unmanageable debt, forces seniors to seek bankruptcy-court protection and may nudge some others back into the work force. It raises rents in the town, discouraging young and older people to live elsewhere or move from the State. A booming stock market does not always boost the wealth of seniors on paper because they have their assets in conservative investments, such as certificates of deposits and bonds.
Rising property taxes is crushing to those on fixed incomes. I know couples that must live on social Security payments of $1,800a month. Another couple live on $1,100 a month from pension and Social Security. These constitute limited incomes. Seniors and the very young are vulnerable to inflation and property tax increases. Some are refinancing their homes and cashing out their home equity. Others are taking out home equity loans and borrowing to create an income stream. Rising property taxes poses a serious threat to seniors’ financial well-being.
Unexpected high tax increases are a core problem in our town. In Meredith we are contributing to a financial crisis and a diminishing quality of life. We hear too much bravado from our Chairman of the board about the 23 hours he spent on developing a municipal budget and too little concern for the senior citizen. The key to a good budget is setting budget priorities, stopping unnecessary or wasteful spending and generate greater revenues.
My congratulations to Mrs. Worsman and Dr. Lovett for their strong back bone and efforts in safeguarding our tax dollars. I’m optimistic that with another 23 hours of concerted work the Chairman can cut another $100,000 out of the budget. Please do not sacrifice the future of our seniors. After all, the seniors in this robust community are entitled to some tax relief.