Andover Townsman, Andover, MA

Opinion

March 6, 2014

Kowalski's tax break deserves attention

Selectman Dan Kowalski’s proposal to use $1 million in surplus money in the town budget to cut taxes is a good idea.

Some may say it’s a gimmick because such a small amount of money will be saved — a paltry $70 to $100 on average for the typical taxpayer in town.

But his proposed, one-time tax cut sends a couple of different messages: On the one hand, it shows that town leaders are listening to a growing chorus of discontent among property owners in town that their taxes are too high and town spending is out of control.

On the other hand, even though the savings may be small, for some people that $70 to $100 could be what they need to pay the phone bill or buy prescription medicine. It could mean purchasing a few more groceries or buying a new pair of shoes.

Just because there are some big, beautiful houses on huge, sweeping estates in Andover doesn’t mean that everyone in town is a millionaire. In fact, demographically, it appears that a growing percentage of people living here are elderly residents on fixed incomes. But even young couples starting out need a little relief now and then.

So from a practical standpoint, Kowalski’s good-will gesture to all those folks who may be struggling to get by from week to week should be applauded.

Taking a big-picture view, however, Kowalski’s proposal also tells town leaders that they must be held accountable for the decisions they make and the proposals they push. It’s nice to have a brand-spanking new elementary school on Bancroft Road. But when voters were giving their approval to the project two years ago — at Town Meeting and then at the ballot box — did they realize they were actually voting to give themselves a $300 a year tax increase?

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