Letter: MGRHS plan is too costly for residents of towns

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MGRHS plan too costly for many residents

To the editor:

On March 1 and March 15, respectively, Williamstown and Lanesborough citizens will go to the polls to vote for or against a 10 percent increase, for the next 29 years, in their property taxes to build a new Mount Greylock Regional High School.

In my opinion, it is morally unacceptable to use a majority vote to force lower income and fixed income citizens to pay 10 per cent more in property taxes for the next 29 years.

My research using census records indicates that 36 percent of Williamstown households and 31 percent of Lanesborough households have gross annual incomes of less than $50,000. While we need a better school, any across the board tax increase of more than 5 percent would be unconscionable and wholly unacceptable.

But wait! Williams College has announced a $5 million pledge to the "new" school. That is very nice, but since Williams is not making an annual undedicated Payment In Lieu of Taxes (PILOT), the Williams contribution cannot be used to reduce the 10 percent annual tax increase burden of the $65 million school. In fact, in a way, it makes it a $70 million school.

Williams is pledging $5 million over 29 years, and since it is an endowment, the fund, using investment techniques available to Williams, will grow. Williams will also control how the money can be spent to protect it own special interests.

Is this $5 million truly generous? Williams has the most to gain of any players involved in building a $70 million school. Spreading the $5 million over 29 years makes the Williams gift an annual $172,413 contribution. Williams College tuition and fees are $50,070 per student per year. (Room & Board costs are an additional $13,220 per year.)

Thus, while Williams can raise more than $5 million over 29 years by merely adding fewer than four students a year to its student population; low and fixed income families have no way to increase their income to pay a 10 percent annual property tax increase for the next 29 years.

Vote NO on March 1 and March 15. Don't stick it to your neighbors who cannot afford this unconscionable 10 percent tax increase. Voting NO is the right thing to do. We will build/remodel the school, but first, we must re-adjust our moral compass.

Kenneth Swiatek, Williamstown


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