Featured Letter: It’s time to look at the financial health of our island

To the Editor:

With a new town supervisor and new town board members, this is an opportune time to assess the financial health of the Island.

At the Meet the Candidates Forum last year, the supervisor candidates, the prospective chief financial officers of the town, were asked about the unfunded liabilities. Neither seemed to know what that meant. 

I’ll ask the question again: What is the amount of the unfunded liabilities (pensions and other employee benefits) and what impact will it have on future budgets?

The second issue is the prospect of doubling taxes over the next decade. Taxes increased 5.9% last year (with the help of dipping into reserves) while actual spending increased significantly more. At that rate, taxes will double in 12 years, or sooner, if reserves are depleted.

Ask yourself: Will your income double over the next 12 years? If you have investments or savings, will the return double over the next 12 years? Social security benefits increased 1.6% last year, consistent with the cost of living. Savings accounts yield about 1%.

The board is focused on a quixotic quest for affordable housing. Perhaps their greater concern should be whether current residents, and retirees, can afford to live here at this rate of tax increase. Will second-home owners, the lifeblood of our economy and real estate market, question the luxury of a home here, especially since local taxes no longer are deductible from federal returns?

We are fortunate at this time to be enjoying a robust economy, but the well is not bottomless. I urge the board to make fiscal responsibility its first priority.

Don Bindler