To the editor of THE EAGLE:
I am running for Selectman in Great Barrington. I am 26 years old, was born and raised on a farm here and went to area schools. I am a 2010 graduate of St. Lawrence University with a BA in government and history. My ancestors, the Beebes and the Taylors, have been in Great Barrington for almost 200 years. I have now returned home and was persuaded to run for office and represent those people in town who have "had enough."
By "had enough" I mean the town and its taxpaying residents are fed up with tax increases, and demonstrated that last fall with 975 folks voting no to funding the $56 million MMRHS renovation proposal. This referendum clearly showed just how tired the folks in Great Barrington and Housatonic are from "tax fatigue." The reasons for this high voter turn out? Taxpayers would (and could still if it is put again to a vote this fall) have hundreds of dollars added to their tax bill that would subsequently cripple household finances, and in some cases cause residents to move out of the area that they grew up in.
Secondly, after attending the 2015 budget meeting recently, I came away shocked at the seemingly runaway increase every year by hundreds of thousands of dollars in the school budget, which is routinely rammed through annually. One serious issue which most voters are unaware of is that school-choice students from other districts are paying only one-third of what it costs to educate them ($5,000 vs. $15,000+), which is outrageous.
Thirdly, I believe that Great Barrington has to become more "business friendly." Reducing the tax and regulatory burden on them will increase their profitability, thereby creating more jobs and attracting new entrepreneurs into the area.
Lastly, with the above policy changes, I believe it will make the town more affordable to everyone, especially the "young folks" who have grown up here, so they will be able to stay here. I have been very fortunate to grow up in Great Barrington, and running for Selectman is my way of giving back to the community that I care deeply about.
I would appreciate your vote on May 13 if you agree with me.