Local Taxpayers Are at the Breaking Point [OPINION]
My property tax bill arrived this week indicating that I owe more than $1,600 for each of the final two quarters of this fiscal year. When the new fiscal year begins on July 1, my commitment will increase thanks to an upward adjustment in property values. When does it end?
The police and fire unions have yet to settle with the city and each wants more money. The firefighters are demanding an end to rolling blackouts and turned out a few dozen very loud protesters to demand as much outside the inauguration ceremonies at the "Z" last night. The police union has driven its case into the court of public opinion as well by demanding the police chief either quit or be fired. These are typical negotiating tactics.
Let's be clear, rolling blackouts suck. I'd prefer every firehouse to be staffed 24/7 and for there to be no more blackouts ever. I'd like to see the police get everything they are asking for. But I'd also like to see our schools meet and surpass minimum net school spending requirements. They are not.
Mayor Jon Mitchell repeated last night during his inaugural address that "money is tight." It is. Mitchell also stated that "the pressure on taxpayers has not let up." It has not and it continues to intensify. Veteran Councilor Brian Gomes called last night for "no more blackouts" and said police and fire should be given "the tools they need" to do their jobs but at the same time acknowledged that "people pay high taxes."
Our police officers and firefighters are among the best you'll find anywhere but there are limits to what the taxpayer can handle. We are there. The camel's back is breaking. There just is no more. Nadda. Zilch. The unions will spin this as some pro-administration or anti-union propaganda, but guess what? This is taxpayer reality.
By the way, no one has been able to tell me where the money would come from to eliminate the blackouts. The only suggestion I've heard so far is revenue from marijuana sales which haven't even been approved by the state yet. Is the fire union willing to agree to concessions so that there are no more blackouts?
When business and residential property owners have had enough, and many have already, the mass exodus will commence. Members of the New Bedford City Council beware, the unions are great at organizing but the taxpayers vote.
Barry Richard is the host of The Barry Richard Show on 1420 WBSM New Bedford. He can be heard weekdays from noon to 3 p.m. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org and follow him on Twitter @BarryJRichard58. The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of the author.