The Dalton Select Board has scheduled a special town meeting on Monday, Oct. 29, at 7 p.m. at Nessacus Middle School. Articles at this meeting will ask voters to override the Proposition 21Ž2 tax limit so that expenditures can be made. These expenditures are essentially the same ones the voters said no to in May.
I have no doubt the expenditures being requested are wanted and needed by those who are requesting them. However, I also have no doubt that there are Dalton residents who are struggling to pay for the basics such as mortgage, utilities, food, clothing, transportation and, of course, taxes. Many of these residents want and need many things but do not buy them because they cannot afford them. They manage their purchases within a budget and pay for what they must have before they buy what they want to have. In some cases, there is simply no money left in the budget to purchase items they truly need.
Dalton currently has one of the highest tax rates of all the cities and towns in the Berkshires. Dalton residents also pay one of the highest amounts of taxes when the average house value is divided by the average tax on a single family home. Any way you look at it, Dalton residents currently pay the highest real estate taxes of any community in the Berkshires. In addition, most residents must also pay mandatory water and sewer fees that add up to more than $600 per year. We also must pay for trash disposal which adds at least a few hundred dollars a year to the household budget.
This is not the first time the residents of Dalton have been asked to override Proposition 21Ž2 and in many cases we have voted to do so. However, these requests are becoming more frequent and for larger amounts. What is next? There are rumors that an additional town hall renovation and subsequent repairs to Wahconah Regional will be required in the near future. Does anyone have a "master plan" of what future large expenditures will be required and what impact they would have on our tax rate?
Does Dalton really have needs that all the other Berkshire towns do not? I doubt it! How are other cities and towns managing to provide services to their residents while collecting fewer taxes and fees? I encourage all the residents of Dalton to attend the upcoming special town meeting and vote a resounding "no" to any new taxes.