I feel compelled to respond to a recent article in The Forecaster highlighting a referendum intended to reduce our excise tax liability.
Like all legislation, there are intended consequences and then there are the unintended consequences. I would like to offer here the unintended consequences that I believe should be considered before we cast our votes in November.
The estimated loss of revenue varies by town and in Cumberland may be upwards of $600,000. If the town of Cumberland loses that much revenue we will be forced to consider the cutting services dramatically, raising property taxes to avoid a cut in services or a combination of both options.
The services the municipal government provides, like waste removal, fire protection, public works (road repair and construction) and public safety, are not optional services. Still other services, which are not essential but increase our quality of life, like recreation and libraries, simply do not cost that much money when offset by user fees. In Cumberland, we have a municipal government with which people are in large part satisfied and that the manager and town employees have worked hard to make affordable. We do not need at this point additional financial constraints not of our own making.
I am happy to discuss reducing the tax burden, but only if it is honest and open and considers all the consequences, especially the unintended ones.