Tax Inequity in Upton
To the Editor:
As stated in the Upton column, inconsistency in determining the valuation of shore properties and those of inland properties have been an issue in Upton for many years. But, now, there are even more inconsistencies. Many camps that have no facilities, are not finished either inside or outside, and have no access to maintained roads are assessed as high as year-round homes. Shore properties are presently assessed "all the same." They shouldn't be. There are many factors and criteria that should determine the valuation of each piece of property individually in order to ensure fairness, regardless of its location.
At the Town Meeting Thursday there were many comments which I consider inane, a word my Webster defines as "Empty, Insubstantial, lacking significance, meaning or point. Silly. Insipid." and therefore, by definition, aptly used. Such as...
One man, who is presumably in the business of giving quotes and proposals to potential customers, questioned the wisdom of voters trusting Mr. Rainey to provide the services as he outlined them. Alrighty, then. One gentleman asked, as if he were moderator, for a show of hands of anyone who thinks his taxes are too high. Duh! If any home in Upton were located in another town, and all other things remained constant, the taxes would be much higher -- that's not the point.
That wasn't the point of the meeting. One lady suggested Upton should pay for the education required for a couple "young" residents to become certified assessors. I'm not sure what "young" means to her, and I'm pretty sure she wasn't implying that "older" people are incapable of being educated. Is there one resident who does not have to work full time, that can (or wants to) meet her qualifications?
One man thought that since Upton has ignored the state's request for a revaluation for many years, and since there would be no financial repercussions for continuing to ignore it, we should continue on in the same manner regardless of fairness -- because we can get away with it.
Somebody couldn't believe sheds were taxable. Another questioned the authority of selectmen to hold a Town Meeting whenever they "felt like it." After the meeting, a loud voice was heard exclaiming something like "guess we took care of them, didn't we?" Yep, "inane" is aptly used to describe such comments.
Shore property owners, both voters and non-voters were well represented. Inland voters were not. That speaks volumes. Why weren't the folks who complain all year long that the taxes are unfairly determined present to take a stand? Were some people afraid that assessors would see the woodshed that had been previously missed and fear that including it would raise their taxes? That's no different than some of the shore property owners who are determined to keep their taxes the same, regardless of the discrepancies. If nothing else, a higher representation of voters at all town meetings would more accurately represent the opinions of the town as a whole. Either way voters choose to vote on this issue, or on any others, their attendance would give them a chance to "speak their piece" and/or exchange a complaint for a vote.
I hope selectmen will try to correct the assessing issues by asking for a complete revaluation of the town in a subsequent Town Meeting. With its acceptance, some taxes would remain the same, some would go down, and some would be higher,and all landowners would be paying their fair share.