Bratt sales tax ill-timed, would cripple merchants
Editor of the Reformer:
As the debate heats up on the issue of whether or not to collect an extra one per cent sales tax in Brattleboro, I thought, as a downtown merchant, I should weigh in.
As owner of a successful Main Street business, Verde, now in it’s 12th year, I can tell you that the last five years or so have been quite a struggle. My fellow merchants and I have had to deal with a succession of problems over the last few years: sidewalks being torn up by Public Works, near traffic chaos with the installation of the new traffic light system, not to mention the Brooks House fire and Tropical Storm Irene. All of these disruptions along with the worst recession since the Depression and the new, very serious competition from the Internet, have many of us barely hanging on.
Owning and running a shop is not an easy way to make a living at the best of times. Most of us have been watching our profits going down through the recession to an alarming degree. Being a border town with "no sales tax New Hampshire," Brattleboro is already very vulnerable to the sales tax issue and upping our tax rate will increase this. You might not think this would be a problem with most shoppers, but visitors very often ask about our tax rate and are surprised at how high it is. Some of us with high ticket items are particularly affected, especially those in direct
However, with plans moving forward on the Brooks House renovation, I feel some hope that once that is completed in 2014, things may eventually pick up on the retail front as our town looks more vibrant. But we are not there yet and the Brattleboro merchant community, those downtown and those on the outskirts of town, are still faced with a very difficult retail climate.
I understand that it’s the Selectboard’s job to ensure that the town’s facilities are kept up to date and that there are limited ways of funding projects, especially ones as large as the proposed new fire and police stations. But, as one of my fellow merchants said, talking to me about this issue: "We’re all having to make do these days ...."
Clearly now is not the best time to think about imposing extra sales tax; maybe the town should make do for a little longer until our economy turns around. Imposing extra sales tax at this critical recovery period may lead to lower sales for us, which will in turn mean less sales tax collected by the state and town.
Guilford, Sept. 26
Politics: The ultimate gentlemen’s game
Editor of the Reformer:
The first thing they teach you at the Harvard Business School is: You can never go broke underestimating the taste or intelligence of the American public. In law school they teach you: When the facts are against you, argue the law; when the law is against you, argue the facts; when they are both against you, just argue.
Watching the first presidential debate I have to take my hat off to Mitt Romney, he learned his lessons well.
The 21st century snake oil salesman at his best: "Have I got a deal for you! Don’t ask me what’s in it, but it’s what you need. Forget what I said in the past; this is the stuff for you! I’ll cut your taxes, cut the deficient, give you jobs, health care. I can’t tell you the ingredients but its all in the bottle."
How can anyone doubt this guy?
His greatest political victory was making Massachusetts the first state to mandate universal healthcare including woman’s choice when it served his purposes; now it serves his purpose to repeal Obama care and appoint judges to overturn Roe vs. Wade.
Mr. Romney reminds me of W. C. Fields, cutting cards with a guy on a train. The guy cuts the cards and shows W.C. a Jack: "You don’t have to show me, it’s a gentleman’s game." W.C. cuts, looks at the card and places the deck back on the table: "Queen!" The guy: "Wait, I didn’t see it." W.C.: "No problem, it’s a gentleman’s game."
All’s fair in love; war and politics, so if you have to flip flop a little to make a sale or get elected, that’s OK: it’s a gentleman’s game.
Putney, Oct. 10
Skatepark questions still need answers
Editor of the Reformer:
I am a mom of two children who love playing at the Crowell Lot Park. It is our neighborhood park. The same park I grew up going to when I was a child. We walk to school every day and most days stop at the park to play after school. The Crowell Lot Park is very important place for our family and many other families with young ones. We have tried to take part as much as possible in the discussion of the skatepark along the way. I went with my newborn to an informational meeting back in 2010 to get answers about the plan and was given no answers to pertinent questions that they should have been able to answer if this skatepark was well planned. When trying to contact the Department of Recreation and Parks by e-mail to try to add suggestions and get information, I got no response. If parks and recreation can’t answer these questions, who can?
The only answer I have received is that BASIC is responsible for providing a new playground. Nothing is written as to when the playground will be installed. How long will our families be out of a playground? Will there be any money left? Who is responsible for choosing these new structures? They have already cut the playground in size by taking away one of the swing sets. Two are needed, one for babies and disabled and another for older children. Where will all these kids be going to the bathroom, in the woods?
The town will be responsible for taking care of this structure. It doesn’t even take care of the park now. The fence has been falling apart near the play structure for months. The swings are ripped and showing metal on the seats. There have been dirty sleeping bags and a quilt hanging over the fence for a month now. Obviously garbage that needs to be removed.
I urge the Selectboard to put a halt to this project until the members can answer these questions and listen to the residents that use and live next to this precious green space in our neighborhood.
Sharon Carlton Newton,
Brattleboro, Oct. 10
On Guilford schools ...
Editor of the Reformer:
I am in support of Guilford moving our 7th and 8th grade students to Brattleboro Area Middle School.
Guilford residents currently pay a premium for a middle school that offers less programs. For nearly the same cost per child, Guilford can send our pre-teens to BAMS, a school specializing in mid-level education. BAMS offers a foreign language program, accelerated math options, competitive sports teams, advanced music/arts department, enrichment classes for academic achievers and a restorative justice program. Also BAMS has an array of free extracurricular activities that include videography, songwriting, journalism, computer animation, youth leadership, wilderness adventure, culinary arts, and the list goes on and on.
With the same tax dollars, Guilford School can’t afford to offer these services. Does is make sense to pay the same amount of tax dollars to give our children less educational and social opportunities?
Some parents argue that "protecting" our children from social pressures associated with a larger school environment, outweighs the benefits of all the enrichment and extracurricular opportunities BAMS has to offer. I don’t agree. In fact, I have seen some of Guilford’s young adults become stifled, bored and even socially isolated in our small setting.
Transitioning into the more diverse community at BAMS before going to BUHS is developmentally appropriate. With parental support, BAMS can be a safe, exciting and successful school for our children.
Guilford, Oct. 8